Service Vic not living up to its potential

·2-min read

It's meant to be a one-stop-shop for Victorians to deal with the state government, but Service Victoria is failing to live up to its potential.

An independent review of the agency and its digital platforms says it needs to be overhauled.

A lack of clarity surrounds the advisory roles of both Digital Victoria and Service Victoria, the review tabled in parliament on Thursday found.

Along with that, Service Victoria's efficiency and timeliness are often hamstrung by the fact it cannot offer some end-to-end services and instead has to cross over with other departments.

The government might want to consider further technical amendments to the Service Victoria Act to more effectively deliver digital services, and "future proof" the agency for potential service demands, the review recommended.

Among those amendments, the legislation could enable Service Victoria to work with non-government entities to deliver certain functions.

The government should also clarify the roles of Digital Victoria and Service Victoria in supporting the "digital transformation" of the public sector, the review says.

Service Victoria should be able to provide more services end-to-end, so it could, for example, issue a licence for a particular activity in its own right.

However, the review cautioned a limit should be put on that when it comes to complex licensing judgements, such as those on firearms and planning applications.

The government supported all the report's recommendations and will consider how to implement them, Government Services Minister Danny Pearson said.

A 2021 audit found Service Victoria wasn't fulfilling its purpose to help people with a wide range of government transactions, falling "well short" of its aim for whole-of-government digital reform.

Instead, people primarily went through the agency out of necessity to use COVID-related functions.

Victorians used the Service Victoria mobile app for QR code check-ins during the pandemic, and the agency also gave people access to border permits and exemptions.

Introducing COVID-19 functions increased Service Victoria's "transaction volume" to 2.57 million in six months, the audit found.

With that exception, the agency did not meet its objective of reducing the cost of government transactions and improving compliance with regulation.

As of June 2020, the state government had put $156.9 million into Service Victoria.

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