I imagine the relationship between government agencies and their partners as being like the key building block of creation — the atom.

At the heart of every atom is the nucleus, a collection of protons and neutrons that, in my mind, represent the complex challenges in society the public sector is tasked with addressing. Around that nucleus spins a cloud of electrons that are key to the makeup of the atom — the government agencies, private sector providers, and technology vendors each contributing towards solving problems.

Much of the time it's a harmonious balance with productive outcomes. But, every now and then, a subatomic particle will shoot off, throwing everything into disarray.

Too often, we’ve seen the results in government when the harmonious balance is lost. Projects fall short of their expected outcomes, or, in the worst-case scenario, cause more harm than good. Public trust is eroded.

Datacom has a relationship with most local and central government agencies in one form or another. Our purpose is primarily fulfilled, not by the state of our balance sheet, but by helping to maximise the impact our public sector has in enabling Aotearoa/New Zealand and its people to prosper. We want to be at the core of enabling wellbeing. If we don’t think we can design, deliver, or manage solutions to advance those customer outcomes, we won’t take the contract or sign up for the project.

Being a trusted advisor is key to the long-term sustainability of our business. We understand the areas that need work to produce a more unified public sector and to tackle society’s most complex challenges. We need to seek out the sameness, move from compliance to care, and make room for the human.

What we're seeing is a desire in all quarters for a more unified public sector. One with deeper collaboration across agencies and with incentives for all to work towards common, well-understood goals. It's a big task, but by matching policy, public service, the needs of citizens, and the tools to bring it all together, we believe it's achievable and is a goal worth pursuing.

Using data for good

Experiences and services are enabled by data. We need to embrace the use of data across government to offer insights, match needs with resources, and transform the citizen experience. There's still work to do on data sharing among government agencies. Yes, there are legitimate privacy and data sovereignty concerns that go with data sharing in the public sector. But, just as we, as individuals, understand the value we derive from sharing our data with banks, online stores, and social media, we need to embrace the idea that we can enjoy better public services by doing the same within the public sector.

Some people are concerned about government over-reach if data sharing between agencies becomes the norm. We need to engage with the community and make the case that by sharing data we can achieve better outcomes.

We also need to experiment more in public service design and delivery. The tech sector has embraced the concepts of agile, lean, and try even if you fail (‘fail fast’) with great effect. By experimenting on a small scale, rapidly innovating and trialling processes, approaches, and technology, we can find out what does and doesn't work, without the expectation and cost associated with large, fully formed projects.

Datacom lives and breathes this approach. We aim to apply it more broadly with the government agencies we work with, which, when combined with the recommendations we’ve outlined above, will help deliver the more unified public sector our country needs.

Justin has more than 20 years of experience in driving successful business and digital transformation across industries spanning public sector, retail, manufacturing, automotive, utilities, and more.

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