Shifting to Online Government Services

Thursday, March 24, 2016

For the first time, most New Zealanders' 10 most frequent transactions with government services are digital.

The December 2015 quarter shows that almost 53 per cent of people who had to deal with the government did so online. This is up from 46.3 per cent in the same quarter in 2014, and well above the baseline of 29.9 per cent in June 2012.

Ohariu-based list MP Brett Hudson, whose background is in IT, says Kiwis, who use information, services and products online, on demand, anywhere, at any time, have a right to expect the same service from the public sector.

He says he's delighted at the shift. "This progress puts the Government on track to meet one of its Better Public Services targets: that, by next year, an average 70 per cent of Kiwis' most common transactions with the government will happen online."

Another issue involving the public sector and businesses that work with the Government reflected in the New Zealand Business Number Bill, now before Parliament. It aims to reduce complexity and cost to businesses interacting with government agencies.

Brett, who spoke in the Bill's second reading debate, says, "At present, businesses must maintain a separate set of credentials for each government agency it must deal with, even for its most basic public information, such as physical and postal addresses. This is both needlessly costly, but also frustrating, particularly for small businesses."

The Bill will let businesses identify themselves to government agencies using a single number. Later, if those businesses need to update their details, they'll be able to do so at the agency of their choice and make the update only once. This change might save businesses $60 million a year.

He says, "The Opposition seems to think such change can be made by waving some magic wand. I thought it important to set them straight on that. They also don't seem to have thought through the consequences of using an existing identifying number, such as the IRD number."