Tom Pullar-Strecker at Stuff reports:
A planned “one-stop shop” to handle all public dealings with government departments could affect thousands of state servants.
The new ServiceLink organisation – a mega call-centre which could ultimately employ several thousand staff – is being set up in a plan for the one agency to handle everything from phone and internet inquiries to applications for benefits, tax returns, fines and other payments for state services.
In a way this would be catching up with local Government.
In the old days, there were dozens of phone numbers for say the Wellington City Council, depending on what service you wanted. Now there is just one phone number and the call centre deals with almost all inquiries.
- The government could save $100 million a year from “efficiencies” that would include avoiding the duplication of information technology systems and merging call centres. But officials said the goal was also to make services more convenient for the public.
Saving money is not a bad thing though, even if not the main aim.
Ms Pilott said the union supported initiatives that helped “join up services” and made life easier for the public. “But that change shouldn’t be used as an excuse to cut jobs.
“If jobs become surplus because of new initiatives, those workers should be redeployed to provide more extended services to the public. Also, if ServiceLink is going to be a success, an enhanced working environment … is vital for improving service delivery.”
I’m not sure if Ms Pilott is saying that the call centrc should have more staff than necessary, or calling for any savings from it to be invested elsewhere. The latter is what has been happening over the last two years anyway – there are 3,000 fewer public servants but there are (off memory) 1,500 more teachers, 1,000 more nurses, 500 more doctors, 300 more Police etc.