Research report

New models for digital government: the role of service brokers in driving innovation

26 Nov 2014

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Executive summary

Digital Government strategies are being rolled out in many Australian and international jurisdictions, ushering in a fundamentally different approach to the design and delivery of public sector services. Digital Government makes digital services (usually delivered through internet and mobile channels) the default delivery channels for the majority of services, and places them at the centre of innovating, designing and operating government services.

Public sector or independent service brokers are increasingly important to delivering and designing these services. Service brokers are organisations or businesses that enable customers to interact with other organisations through easy-to-use and seamless interfaces.

In the digital realm, a public sector service brokers example is one that provides a customer-focussed portal, such as the Federal Department of Human Services’ MyGov website.

Independent service brokers from the private or community sectors can also provide greater service choice and innovation in how people interact with governments. Models for independent service brokers include Digital Mailboxes and Personal Safeboxes (eg Australia Post); public transport information service brokers (eg TripView, Tripgo and Google Transit), taxation service brokers (eg Xero and MYOB Online), community service brokers (eg HubCare) and access brokers for government services (eg public libraries, online access centres, etc) to assist those unable to access digital services.

It is likely that the ambitious goals for large-scale adoption of digital government will only be achieved if governments encourage the involvement of independent service brokers to complement the role of public sector service brokers. However, there is currently little guidance on best practice models for agencies seeking to collaborate with independent service brokers or the other way around. This report addresses this critical knowledge gap by providing a practical guide to the service broker model. It explains the different roles of public sector and independent service brokers and provides case studies of service broker models. This will help to inform digital government strategies and policies to encourage the development of public sector and independent service brokers.

It also considers how the emergence of a marketplace of service brokers will raise important issues such as how customer data is managed and protected, identity assured and how research and analysis of the data generated by these digital services can help inform better public policies and service improvement.

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