Seamless Digital Government

Lessons from the ABS and the United Kingdom tax office

Events - 31 Oct 2018

Lessons from the 2016 Census and beyond for digital service delivery in Western Australia. 

Delegates heard from two highly experienced leaders about transforming government service delivery to capture the full benefit of digital.

‘More-with-less’‘anywhere-anytime’, these are just two of the many promises of digital government. At a deeper level, the OECD highlights the potential for a truly digital approach to government to be “a strategic driver to create open, innovative, participatory and trustworthy public sectors, to improve social inclusiveness and government accountability”

Digital transformation in many large organisations has proven to be tough. Key challenges include breaking down silos, overcoming legal barriers, fixing mindsets and internal conventions. Negotiating technological change on the scale of the government is especially difficult. 

Delivering services at scale in the United Kingdom, and the high profile troubles that plagued the initial 2016 Census roll-out, provide plenty of opportunity for us all to learn and improve digital government in Western Australia. 


Ruth Owen
Partner, Human Services
Ruth is EY's Oceania Human Services leader. She joined EY in 2017 from the UK, after leading and transforming the two largest customer service operations in Government (tax and welfare). Ruth led the transformation of both organisations, creating multi channel operating models and customer centric cultures, which enabled increased customer satisfaction, better outcomes, and higher productivity at lower cost and with higher workforce engagement. Ruth is skilled at operating within Government, supporting and being accountable to Ministers and Parliament, with a strength in translating policy objectives to business delivery objectives.
Ruth is recognised in the UK as an exemplary public service leader, with outstanding skills in inspiring and motivating large scale workforces. She was appointed Head of Profession for Operational Delivery across the whole of the UK civil service and has built capability at all levels from front line service delivery through to operational leaders (covering 280 000 people). 
As Director General, Customer Services, HM Revenue & Customs (UK tax authority)
UK’s largest national customer service operation (49m customers; up to 30,000 staff; and budget of over $1.5bn; collecting tax of $430bn) Ruth successfully
  • Transformed large scale operation to digital/multi channel model, customer focused business with online tax account serving over 10m individuals and businesses at 80% satisfaction (within 12 months)
  • Created and led an integrated operating model for all customer facing services
  • Turned around customer service levels; increased speed of call answering by 50%; launched new online service channels with customer satisfaction up to 90%;
  • Introduced robotic automation alongside Virtual Assistant (chatbot) and digital and new social media channels
David Kalisch
Chief Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics
David W. Kalisch was appointed the 15th Australian Statistician on 11 December 2014. As Agency Head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics he is accountable for the functions and operations of the Bureau. He has also been appointed as the non-judicial member of the Australian Electoral Commission.
Mr Kalisch is an economist with public sector experience in research and analysis, policy development and service delivery. He has an interest in labour markets, macroeconomics, retirement incomes, welfare to work strategies and health policy. He has pursued organisational performance and renewal through recent leadership responsibilities.
Mr Kalisch was previously the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for four years, a Commissioner at the Productivity Commission and a Deputy Secretary in the Commonwealth Department of Health. He has had Senior Executive roles in a range of Departments since 1991, has had two appointments at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, and was a member of the Australian Delegation to the OECD.
He studied economics at the University of Adelaide, is a Public Policy Fellow at the Australian National University and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.