We are currently seeing significant business transformation across the New Zealand state sector. This led us to host a boardroom breakfast in our Wellington offices with the Minister for Revenue, the Hon. Todd McClay, who shared insight on this change from the perspective of a government representative. The Minster was joined by Greg James, Deputy Commissioner Change of Inland Revenue and a group of CIOs and IT vendors and business consulting executives for a breakfast discussion.
The discussion was about the government’s approach to collaboration and engagement with outside sources, making sure the widest possible considerations are gathered and used to help shape services and business transformation.
Breakfast with the Minister for Revenue
The Minister spoke about the philosophy and approach being taken by the government in these areas. It was interesting to hear of the cross-agency partnering, the engagement with academics and students, the setting up of cross-sectoral advisory and functional working groups and the on-going call for submissions and input. I left the breakfast with the overwhelming feeling that if you are not being heard, you may not be speaking up!
Inland Revenue have embarked upon what will undoubtedly be the largest and most enduring technology programme that we will see delivered by our government this decade, by committing to offering better digital services. No member of the New Zealand public is unaffected by changes to tax generation and collection. It is our economic engine, enables participation in global trade and provides for our public and social services. It touches everyone (professionally and personally) and therefore by virtue of function permits the valid criticism and derision referenced earlier.
In increasingly seeing the public through a customer-centric lens, the government’s change in approach has been interesting to observe. There is a commitment to providing improved access to and easier ways to transact with our government agencies, after all it is you and I, the taxpayer or public at large, that our government serves. Much of the insight into what’s going on in this context is easily accessible through any of New Zealand’s state sectors central agency websites and www.beehive.govt.nz.
Understanding the Transformation
It’s easy for anybody, to criticise and deprecate the work that is being undertaken in a “business transformation” or “better public service” context. It all comes at a cost or investment and we are all in some way tax paying citizens with valid views and opinions that we want to be heard.
My insights are that this transformation is an enormous and complex undertaking, that there is genuine desire and intent from our state sector leaders to enact useful transformation and to do it well, and that this is simply a stage in our country’s development. We need to adapt to technological advancements and interact with our emerging next generations, so that we can continue to evolve the state sector and its services to meet changing societal needs and “customer” behaviours.
When I reflect on just how hard it has been to make improvements within businesses I have worked for and within my own personal life on a far smaller scale, particularly in serving others and just how complex people and their needs are, I get some appreciation on what it must be to try and enact these changes at a national level.
What I am finding interesting is the openness of the state sector to engage and acknowledge that it may not have all the right answers. That extended engagement with the public and business is the best way to ensure New Zealand gets the best public service outcomes for New Zealanders. Maybe I have simply been ignorant of this in the past?
Your Input is Valuable
My advice is to be informed, use the information available to you online and if you have ideas and input share it in a constructive way. You may just have that next great idea. My view is that we have a wonderful country with many positive attributes that afford us a high quality of life and lot of freedoms, and - reality check - it comes at a cost. Be conscious of your role in these processes, contribute your ideas and work at the constructive nature of your opinions.