The Role of Digital Standards in Managing Australian Public Service Innovation
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Digital services are a disruptive innovation helping the Australian government deliver public services to a greater number of citizens faster and more efficiently than ever before (United Nations, 2016). Over the last 20 years, the Australian federal government has been able to achieve nearly full availability of digital government services through public sector innovation. A recent commitment to such innovation occurred with the May 2015 release of a Digital Service Standard (DSS). Two years has passed since Australia introduced its DSS and this research reviews the role of this standard in fostering public service innovation. To perform this analysis, this research evaluates the alignment between the DSS and the commonly adopted approaches for managing organisational innovation of Innovation Process Management (Cooper, 1990) and Innovation Portfolio Management (Tuff & Nadji, 2012) in the public sector context. The analysis draws on publicly available data on 19 Digital Service Standard assessments from July 2015 to June 2017 and case studies of three assessments including: Digital Marketplace, MyGov and BloodNet. This evaluation found that the DSS exemplifies innovation process and innovation portfolio management in its use of gates, assessment criteria and reach across eight different agencies. The analysis also identified design limitations in the DSS as a whole of government innovation management approach due to its limited uptake in the majority of large government agencies and lack of specific standards to encourage different types of innovation. The paper proposes a framework to realign the DSS to better practices of innovation process and portfolio management, including tailoring the standard for new and existing services across a greater proportion of government agencies, and adjusting the DSS to encourage both incremental and disruptive innovations.
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