DTO launches a new standard of reporting

It is well known that the DTO is in partnership with government departments to challenge and where necessary, change the the way we report on government services. To do that, we’ve launched a new Performance Dashboard to make it even easier to find out how government services are performing explains Mariam Ibraheim.


The performance dashboard displayed on different devicesCaption: The performance dashboard displayed on different devices

This is not just a story about making data more open and accessible. It’s a journey about working with government departments to challenge and change the culture of reporting.

Road-blocks to visibility

Until now there has been no single place you could go to find out how government services are performing, or how well those services are meeting users’ needs.

Most of this information is produced and used internally by individual government departments to make decisions on service improvement.

Currently, if the general public wants to find performance information they have to trawl through many government websites, hundreds of pages of Annual Reports, or read through responses to Senate Estimates.

A new way to see what’s going on

The Performance Dashboard intends to make it dramatically easier to access this information.

Over the past 4 months we have worked hard to develop a publishing platform that will be used to publicly report the performance of government services.

The Performance Dashboard is not just a vehicle for public reporting on service performance. The purpose of the dashboard is to continue to drive the continuous improvement of services we deliver to the Australian people.

Making transparency a natural thing

At the DTO we want transparency to become a natural byproduct of every government service transformation and, more broadly, the way we do things in government.

Criterion 11 of the Digital Service Standard is all about performance measurement and reporting. Therefore, all transformation teams have a duty to keep this top of mind, as they develop their services from Discovery through to Beta and beyond.

There are 4 key performance indicators (KPIs) listed, which services must start to measure and report on.

They are:

  • user satisfaction
  • digital take-up
  • completion rates
  • cost per transaction.

In addition to these core 4, The Standard also recommends that transformation teams consider other service-specific metrics that they would like to report.

A clearer view of each service

From now on every government service that is transformed will have its own Service Dashboard on the Performance Dashboard. This means that anyone will be able to see how a particular service is performing against the 4 KPIs, as well as other metrics. Departments will be able to publish their service performance data and provide regular updates. For some this will happen monthly and for others it will be in real time. Departments with multiple services will have multiple Service Dashboards.

It’s not just about digital

Measuring service performance is more than just measuring the digital steps in the process. It is about the end-to-end experience. For each interaction in a service we need to measure the natural start and end-points in the process including those that happen offline – such as someone coming to sit a citizenship test.

It is only when we measure this lifecycle that we will get a full understanding of how a service is performing.

If the digital parts of the process work really well, and users are not able to complete their transaction with government, we have a problem. And we are only seeing one small ‘siloed’ part of the entire process.

Instead, we need to bring all parts together and measure the entire service performance to fully understand if all our channels and processes are working to support the right outcomes for our users.

This should frame our thinking, when it comes to setting up the methods and measures for service performance. It should guide us to put appropriate mechanisms in place at the right points, and give us a more accurate representation of how well the whole service is performing.

It’s about performance, not just the good news stories

We want to be open and we want to drive the continuous improvement of our services. This can only be done through real service performance data and reporting. Sharing positive news stories is encouraging, but actions speak louder than words.

We need to measure performance to understand how well the services are working for our users and identify where things can be improved.

The Service Dashboards will be used as tools for understanding the impacts of our transformations over time. And when things do go wrong, we will publish it. This openness and transparency becomes a call to action to improve the parts of the process that aren’t working for our users.

Data might not always be available and here’s why

It’s not an exact science and, from time to time, even if we want to be transparent it may be difficult to do so, as departments will not have the information they want to report. The Performance Dashboard allows departments to publicly state that they don’t have the data available for a particular metric or KPI.

So each time you see a ‘no data’ published on a Service Dashboard, you will know that the department is really saying— ‘we are being transparent about the fact that we don’t have this information yet, and here’s the reason why’.

This shows a positive intent that departments are working hard to put the appropriate mechanisms in place to provide this data on their Service Dashboards as soon as possible.

This is a huge step forward. It is a true demonstration of willingness and commitment by departments to be open and transparent.

Not all services are created equal, but similar services are

Some services, by their nature, are much more complex than others (for example renewing a vehicle registration versus completing a tax return). So it’s important we don’t directly compare all services to each other.

As we start to bring more and more services onto the Performance Dashboard, it will eventually become possible to compare like-for-like services.

This will be an important step. It will mean departments can gain insights into how the same types of services are performing, while helping to identify opportunities for further service improvement. Other departments will be able to re-use and learn from the same approaches where things have worked well.

What’s next for the Performance Dashboard?

The Performance Dashboard has now moved into Beta and we have big plans for the future. We feel that the real transformation will happen as we bring together individual service dashboards to provide a holistic view of the end-to-end user experience.

This will give everyone a chance to see how all of the multiple parts, delivered by different government departments, are performing.

The Performance Dashboard is more than individual departments and one-off services. It is about the sum total of all us working together, looking at government service performance from the user’s perspective, and driving change as one government.

See the Performance Dashboard