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As part of New Zealand’s National Action Plan for 2018-2020, one of the goals is to improve openness and engagement between government and New Zealanders. Dave Moskovitz shares the preliminary results in this blog.

The Digital Service Design Standard (the Standard) was published in mid-2018 on 

Improving openness and engagement

The purpose of the Standard is to help the public sector provide easily accessible, inclusive and trusted services to people. You can see how applying the Standard consistently and measuring agencies’ implementation could make people’s online experiences with government more positive. This is why we’re drafting a preferred assessment framework for the Standard.

A final report meeting this commitment will be published shortly here on, but I’d like to share the preliminary results with you in this blog.

Workshops and surveys

A critical part of this work was consultation with practitioners and others who will use the Standard. So during May of this year, I ran a number of workshops in Wellington, Auckland, and online. The workshops brought people together to discuss the Standard, agency’s experiences implementing the Standard so far, and ideas for assessing and reporting on use of the Standard throughout government.

The workshops were followed up with a survey to collect more quantitative data on how agencies were using the Standard, how it could be improved, and how it should be reported and assessed.



  • The Standard is not well known or used within government, but those that know it like it a lot and would like to see it used more widely.
  • The Standard has not received much publicity inside or outside of the public sector, and support resource (other than the information on is almost non-existent.


  • A “Getting Started Guide” would go a long way toward helping people responsible for designing new services start applying the Standard and get ready for potential mandatory compliance.
  • Workshops and e-learning would also help people upskill themselves. Central support should also be made available, both in terms of passive support such as more resources on and active support such as consulting services provided by the Department of Internal Affairs.
  • The community of digital practitioners in government will no doubt expand over time as digital transformation takes hold ever more widely. This community should be developed and provided with the resources it needs to thrive, enabling collaboration across units and agencies, sharing best practice, and ensuring that our future digital services are of the highest possible quality.


  • In its current form, however, it isn’t really a “standard” as it lacks clear measurable outcomes that must be met.
  • Private sector providers should be on a level playing field with internal IT.


  • Workshop participants felt that the Standard must have consequences for non-compliance, or the chances of it getting resourced in agencies is reduced. They also felt that the compliance burden should be commensurate with the importance and impact of the service in question.
  • Consequences for non-compliance could include increased remedial support, increased visibility (such as “league tables”), withholding further project funding, or performance management.


Workshop participants offered a number of ideas for creating an effective compliance plan.

  1. Add specific measurable, assessable, reportable outcomes to each principle in the Standard.
  2. Establish thresholds for mandatory assessment and reporting.
  3. Phase in mandatory compliance over the next two years.
  4. Establish consequences for non-compliance.
  5. Require standards compliance in all Requests for Proposals published by central government.
  6. Run an awareness campaign.
  7. Refactor the Standard to make it clearer, adding best practice and case studies.
  8. Provide education and ongoing support.

Next steps

The Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) will publish the full report soon and it’ll provide more details and the background behind these recommendations.

The Standard ensures that as we digitally transform, our new services will provide New Zealanders with a better digital experience of government, as well as increasing efficiency and reducing costs. Implementing an assessment and reporting framework will help ensure the benefits of digital transformation will be experienced by everyone.

For more information about the Standard see the Digital Service Design Standard on

Update - October 2019

The full report has been published:

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