Making the GNWT Work for Us!
> There’s no doubt there are barriers to innovative investments in the NWT. Things like high power rates, expensive and unreliable internet, and a bureaucracy which can be hard to navigate. I believe with smart policies, we can remove these kinds of barriers and attract the investments we need to build a more resilient economy.
> The GNWT is great at creating large ambitious mandates, terrible at fulfilling them, and even worse at implementing what is passed. We are a small government, but in relation to population, the NWT is severely over governed. So the GNWT needs to step back and evaluate what it is capable of doing, and what it is not. This platform is filled with lots of new ideas, but it also proposes streamlining and in some case completely removing of GNWT regulations that are simply not accomplishing what they were intended to do.
> The issue with many of our regulatory bodies is that they fail to conduct assessments of what percentage of people are simply breaking the law because the process is too inflexible. Creating inflexible safety regimes actually causes unsafe situations, in that it encourages people to act outside the law and never approach the regulatory body in the first place.
A User-Friendly Government
> If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that dealing with a public government shouldn’t be hard for the public.
> Unfortunately, something everyone can also agree on, is that accessing services from the territorial government can turn into meandering wild goose chases around poorly-indexed websites, or ceaseless games of telephone tag.
> Governments, like any entity providing services, must be client-centred, helping us climb through the spider web of the bureaucracy in every way possible.
> I believe politicians can play an important role in advocating for a more citizen-centric government, even if the solutions lie in clever policy rather than political rhetoric.
> Let’s look at these two common problems, and how I’d propose we fix them:
The Never-ending Relay
> Pretty much anyone who’s interacted with the territorial government a reasonable amount has experienced something like this:
Call, wait, push #5 for a human.
> GNWT: "GNWT Department of ***, *** speaking, how may I help you?"
> Me: "Hi my name is Rylund and I'm looking to speak to someone about [something to do with a permit process]."
> C: "That's the **** department you're looking for, but just one moment and I'll transfer you to [someone else]"
> C: "Hello?"
> M: "Hi, my name is Rylund and I'm looking to speak to someone about [something to do with a permit process]."
> C: "OK, you're looking for *****, just one moment and I'll transfer you to them"
> *cold transfer*
> Voicemail: "Hi, you've reached the voicemail of **** and I'll be out of the office for..."
....hang up, rinse and repeat.
First Call Resolution
> The best way to end the relay is a simple policy called First Call Resolution.
> The basic idea is to deal with the customer the first time, so you don't double your efforts on a second call, triple them on a third, etc.
> A big part of this comes down to what’s called a warm transfer. A warm transfer is when you call over to the next person, make sure they can answer the phone, and relay any pertinent information before transferring the customer and introducing them to the new representative. Using only warm transfers is key to any First Call Resolution policy.
> It’s a simple concept, but the benefits are many. People are more agreeable when they don't have to repeat themselves several times on a call, their calls aren’t dropped into a black hole, and there are no needless, time-wasting callbacks as client and employee alike all scramble to get back to square one as the cycle starts again.
> I want to see this adopted in our public service. Beyond that, I want it to become part of the culture here.
> We trust our servers at the Woodyard to get us info about the food even if they don’t cook it. Shouldn’t we try and get the same results from our government?
Fear and Loathing in GNWT Web Land
> The ugly cousin of the never ending relay is the lonely, frenetic search for that one piece of information on a department’s website you need to put your mind at ease.
> Maybe it’s about health, student loans, or business grants — whatever public program you helped pay for you now want to try and benefit from.
> But alas, 15 minutes later you’ve gotta go pick up your kid from hockey, or go to band practice, or whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing other than perusing the programs and services page on your chosen department’s site. You’ll deal with it another time.
> It doesn’t need to be this way — I promise.
Single-User Web Portals
> There are often big groups of people looking for similar things. Innovators and entrepreneurs could be looking for business support. NGOs might be looking for grants. Others may be looking into how to immigrate to the Northwest Territories.
> We can use single-user portals with information tailored to the audiences interacting with our government most the info they need fast.
> There are already great examples to follow from the public sector. Innovation Canada’s funding portal is super intuitive. Our own government already uses the BizPal portal for those navigating licencing and permitting in businesses.
> It’s not realistic to expect the GNWT to produce a portal as intuitive as an iPhone. But as more of our residents use the web as their primary information source, it should be our aspiration.
Share Your Stories
> Let’s start a conversation about a user-friendly public service.
> Have you had a tough experience accessing government services? Have ideas for solutions? I want to hear them. Shoot me an email or get @ me on Facebook or Twitter with your stories or ideas.