Conroy outlines online services push

Comms minister's address to IBM Smart Government conference

Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy

Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy

Communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, yesterday told an IBM Smart Government conference in Canberra that research by his department indicates people prefer to access government services online.

One example of public take-up of government services cited by Conroy was the popularity of the Department of Human Services' January introduction of simplified log-on system for customers.

"As at the first of June this year, more than 32,000 customers had chosen to do so which tells us this is something end users support," Conroy said.

Conroy noted that the budget has provided $2.3 million for its 'Tell Us Once' initiative that aims to let people use a single set of log-in credentials for accessing government services online.

Conroy stated during the launch of the National Digital Economy Strategy in Sydney on 31 May that the Government's goal was to have four out of five Australians choosing to engage with the government through the Internet or other type of online service by 2020 following the roll out of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

He added that the move to online services would make life easier for departments with high use such as Centrelink, which began an IT consolidation along with Medicare in 2009, to have a single website for Human Services.

"Currently about 62 per cent of Centrelink transactions, that's 69.5 million transactions per year, are made onsite, which involves people travelling to a Centrelink office, with the inconvenience and cost that can entail," Conroy said at the Smart Government conference.

"As the National Broadband Network rolls out across Australia it will allow new and innovative government service delivery models, reducing costs and increasing consumer satisfaction. Over time, clients in both metropolitan and regional areas will be able to obtain services online instead of travelling to a government shopfront."

This could also mean advantages for frontline government staff as they would have more time to offer what he called face-to-face "tailored services" for Australians who needed special assistance.

"Clients can also choose when and how they interact, in turn freeing them from the constraints of physically attending appointments. This will save them time, money and stress," Senator Conroy said.

However, offices would not be closed and he said the Gillard Government did not intend to remove face-to-face services from "those who want and need them."

"The truth is so many people much prefer to be online. It suits them better and can often be a more effective and efficient way of delivering government services."

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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