Overcoming Government Inertia

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Peter got off the phone from Nina with relief. He now had the support he expected from the Government, but it had taken numerous phone calls and persistence to get it. Within the Government department, Nina and her team had spent several frantic days trying to understand discrepancies in Peter’s records. It had taken a monumental effort working with counterparts in other departments to resolve inconsistencies between their systems. Unfortunately, these situations were becoming all too common taking team members away from delivering a proper service to citizens.

Too much time is spent handling queries rather than fulfilling citizens’ expectations

The department had been pursuing a strategy of digitisation for some time. It aimed to improve efficiency of its operations through automation and to present its services to citizens consistently and accurately. However, it was struggling to meet expectations because of issues integrating with applications in other departments, lack of visibility of information and differing versions of records. It was sapping the morale of Nina’s team.

Nina’s team was unable to rely on what systems were telling them, having to revert to the paper records whenever citizens queried the decisions made.  They spent hours on the phones each day asking other departments to check their paper records too so that they could piece together the truth and apply corrections.

Processing common records removes contention

Nina’s team was crying out for access to a single version of the truth, visible too to citizens and other departments. They knew that it is hard to resolve the issues between applications silos, but that the high cost of resolving issues between them could form the basis of a shared business case for transformation.

Such cost can manifest itself in various ways:

  • Time wasted working out the truth where inconsistency is presented by multiple systems of record
  • Time wasted reverting to paper records where these are trusted more than applications
  • Inability to access information held by other departments that results in inability to undertake an activity or in poor decision making

Blockchain technology offers the necessary transparency and openness. It holds a single version of each record, distributed across each department participating in the transactions that support the business process. Each department integrates its applications into the Blockchain ledger thereby complying with business rules they all agree. Nina would trust every record knowing that departments were accessing the same record, and that trust would remove the burden of resolving discrepancies from her team and having to revert to paper. Citizens would see the same records and people like Peter would have no reason to call in.

Adopt agreed data standards to reap early benefits

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK is using the Hyperledger Fabric on the IBM Cloud. Blockchain makes information from multiple parties available so that the FSA can better target inspections. They were up and running in three weeks – utilising agreed data standards – and immediately benefitted from new insights into the likely source of a liver fluke infection.

Ask yourself

How much of your time is spent resolving issues and dealing with exceptions? Do you have agreed data standards for working with other departments? Does everybody associated with a record see the same information? What else could you be doing if you trusted all the records in your operational systems?

This is the first in a series of blog posts on the ways in which Blockchain can help Governments deliver better services for citizens.

Government Industry Technical Leader, Europe; Executive IT Specialist. IBM Global Markets

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