Digital access to information and services: Learning from examples.

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangarangatanga maha o te motu, tēnā koutou.

New Zealanders increasingly expect to be able to access information and services digitally. As part of our Information theme, we carried out a performance audit that looked at how three public entities made information and services available through their websites and/or mobile applications.

The public entities that we looked at were the National Library of New Zealand (which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs), Greater Wellington Regional Council, and Quotable Value Limited.

We found good examples of information and services being made available to New Zealanders digitally. These examples had resulted in:

  • increased access to services and improved services to more people; and
  • improved public perceptions about the reliability of services.

We contracted an independent assessor to assess the three public entities' websites and mobile applications against government-approved web standards and guidelines. Although they did not fully comply, the results were encouraging. For example, the independent assessor told us that the National Library's website received the highest score out of all the government websites that they had assessed.

Lessons for other public entities

The experiences of the three public entities have provided lessons for others considering making their information and services available digitally. The main lessons from our audits are:

  • The complexities and challenges of digitising information and providing digital information and services need to be well understood and managed. It can be easy to underestimate the time and intensive work required.
  • There is an opportunity to learn more about how people use and reuse digital information and the benefits produced. This will allow public entities to tailor their digital services to people's needs and encourage greater use and reuse of digital information.
  • Anticipating future needs means that governors and managers will need to identify emerging technologies and customer expectations that could affect their business. Governors and managers need to keep up with these changes and consider how they affect the way that information, business processes, organisational culture, and behaviour are managed. The need to think about and plan for the future is ongoing, because technology is constantly changing, and these changes will bring new opportunities and new risks.
  • Ensuring that digital information is available to third parties could improve people's access to services and lead to new ways to use the information.

I would like to thank the staff from the Department of Internal Affairs (including the National Library of New Zealand), Greater Wellington Regional Council, and Quotable Value Limited for helping us complete this work.

Nāku noa, nā,

Signature - GS

Greg Schollum
Deputy Controller and Auditor-General

14 June 2018

Photo acknowledgement: Chris Tse