New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is building a new Government Online Engagement Service (GOES) in order to improve efficiency of the government’s interactions with citizens and stakeholders to inform policy and decision-making processes.
The GOES will be a shared online engagement service that standardises and automates key elements of engagement management, communication and contribution analysis, allowing agencies to identify appropriate engagement methods and share expertise on digital engagement practices.
Nadia Webster, Senior Advisor for Government Information Services at DIA, says, “Many New Zealand public agencies have begun experimenting with online channels for engagement. However, the approach so far has largely been to replicate paper-based processes such as posting downloadable PDF discussion documents and request formal written submissions by email.”
Webster added that due to the lack of a single comprehensive online consultation and engagement service for the New Zealand Government, agencies are duplicating investment in digital engagement channels and have disproportionate access to online engagement expertise.
Moreover, more New Zealanders are now seeking user-friendly public services online as FutureGov wrote about here. The Kiwis Count Channels Report 2013 found that the internet is the preferred channel for citizens looking for information on or dealing with public services.
The New Zealand Government’s strategic thinking emphasises user-centric service and information delivery, sharing solutions, reusing common technology and delivering better services at low cost. It has also committed to providing more open and transparent governance.
Addressing this situation, DIA formed a cross-agency working group to build a service vision for creating a shared approach to online engagement and improving the efficiency of the government’s use of the digital channel for communication and information exchange.
“The GOES project aims to provide a single source all-of-government online engagement service that assists agencies with the end-to-end management of the engagement process and improves the service delivery to participants,” said Webster.
The project is currently in Phase 1 (August 2013 – January 2014) where DIA has established a ‘Community of Practice’ to gather the knowledge of engagement practitioners to co-create best practice online engagement guidance.
It is also outlining the user-centric design of the base GOES platform, (known as Minimal Viable Product or MVP GOES platform). DIA is currently securing commitment from key agencies to GOES when it is delivered, as it prepares for Phases 2 and 3, where they will build the MVP GOES platform. It will undergo several rounds of launching and refining based on user feedback, before deciding the product roadmap and future steps.