The challenge

Delivery of public services

Digital technology is expanding exponentially into all areas of society, changing the way we do business and govern society, and creating the possibility of a very different future.

In 2015, Queensland's Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation engaged CSIRO’s Data61 to identify key technology trends and create plausible marketplace scenarios that may shape demand for, and delivery of, Queensland Government services out to 2025.

The Fast Forward Report identifies four key scenarios for the digital marketplace for public services in 2025. It is intended to help Queensland Government agencies and the ICT/digital industry identify, select and implement optimal strategies for a better future.

Our response

The changing trends and plausible scenarios

Queensland’s government has 20 departments delivering services, with seven of them each spending over $1 billion a year, ad providing around 1600 types of services. Guaranteeing the best services over the next decade requires a thorough understanding of how digital technology will interact with government service delivery.

Scenario 1 – Heritage

Despite limited advances, technology penetration is bumpy and uneven. There is little change to business models. The landscape for public services is similar to today. But if the rest of the world develops and adopts digital technologies what happens to incomes and job opportunities in Queensland’s economy?

Scenario 2 – New Order

Service delivery occurs with mostly current-day technologies combined with bold new organisational designs and innovative institutional arrangements. Can the new institutional arrangements perform adequately without much change in technological capabilities and use?

Scenario 3 – Turbocharge

Rapid advances and adoption of digital technology improves service delivery capabilities and modes but organisational and administrative structures are relatively unchanged. Will our existing structures perform adequately for a digitally enabled service delivery setting?

Scenario 4 – Stargate

A complete reinvention of digital technologies and the institutional landscape and a deep dive into the knowledge and services economy transforms service-delivery systems. This is an exciting world laden with amazing opportunities for individuals and society. But does everyone make the transition?

The scenarios needed to be relevant to the private and community sectors. To look at the future for service delivery, the Strategic Foresight team developed four scenarios, ranging from very little change to a rapid, profound alteration to both the institutional landscape and digital technology penetration.

The aim of the scenarios is to pinpoint the way forward for digital delivery of government services, including healthcare, education, transport, and policing. They will also inform the regulatory environment and policy settings that affect citizens and business.

Scenarios such as these are a generalisation of a much more complex array of future possibilities. In real-world planning problems, it is unusual for an organisational strategy to perform equally well under all scenarios.

The results

The changing face of public service delivery

In coming years the landscape for public service delivery models in Queensland could be substantially reshaped, given accelerating rates of technology advance and consumer uptake.

A scenario approach was ideal for identifying the possible future service delivery and regulatory policy environments. With a finite set of candidate strategies, choosing the best is a multi-objective decision problem with trade-offs.

A range of plausible future scenarios means it is possible to ‘wind-tunnel test’ strategic plans for public service delivery. From there it is possible to generate strategic options, test them against the scenarios, measure their outcomes against agreed performance criteria, then choose the strategy that provides the best overall outcome.

Download a copy of the report

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