Digital transformation — it's personal

James Burnett took the leap from the private sector to help improve government services. For him, the experience has been personal. In this post, he shares his work helping agencies to get started with digital transformation — and how this is improving the experience for our users.

James Burnett delivering training on assessing against the Digital Service Standard.

Caption: James Burnett delivering training on assessing against the Digital Service Standard.

Taking the leap from the private sector

Creating better government digital services is personal for me. I grew up in a small town in coastal NSW. People living in regional Australia don’t have the same shopfront access to government services as those in cities. When the government creates services online and puts user needs first, it makes it easier for my family to get things done.

After a career as a vocational education teacher, I joined the DTA at the beginning of May this year to design and deliver training on the Digital Service Standard, which helps digital teams create services that are simple, clear and fast.

And it’s my experience in the private sector that is highly valued here. The DTA aims to bring together people with all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. That diversity builds empathy for the different users of government services and brings different perspectives to the table.

Working in the public service is challenging and rewarding. I’ve had the chance to network with amazing people, work alongside colleagues who are passionate about what they do and contribute to projects that improve digital capability across government.

Building better public services

The government provides services to the public in many ways every day. What separates government services from the private sector is that people who use them don’t have a choice. So services need to be straightforward, easy and quick to use. If government builds great online services, people won’t need to pick up the phone. If we put the user first, they are more likely to be able to do things without extra help. And ultimately, that helps government too.

The Digital Service Standard applies to new and redesigned public facing services across nearly 100 Australian Government agencies. It came into force in May 2016, and since then we have trained over 1300 government employees on the Standard, helping agencies makes services that are simple, clear and fast.

The vision of the Standard is straightforward — when we make services easy for people to use, we make their lives better. We don’t promise a massive tax return or a successful application for a benefit or rebate. But we do want people to walk away and say ‘that was easy’.

In my role as an educator, it’s my job to be a guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage. It’s the same way I see the Digital Service Standard. As champions of digital transformation across government, we are here to change mindsets and build everyone’s skills.

If you don’t yet work in government but are thinking of making the move, I cannot recommend it more. Working to improve services for everyone in Australia is exciting and every day is different.

For those already in government, we are continuing to run training sessions in Sydney and Canberra to help people meet the Digital Service Standard. You can find more info and register for courses at our training page.

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