Supporting the Nova Scotian government to become a service-led organisation

The ambition

The Nova Scotian government wanted to make public services and technology better for everyone in the province.

Nova Scotia is a province in Canada, with a population of about 1 million people.

The government wanted to dramatically increase the quality of online public services, improve cyber security, respond effectively to crises, and ensure public servants had the technology and tools needed to do their jobs.

However, the province had split responsibility for the digital and technology agenda across many organisations. Huge amounts of time and energy were spent on maintaining risky legacy technology. And the level of internet-era capability within the government was limited. Reconciling these challenges with an ambitious political agenda and increased expectations of citizens was a huge challenge.

What we did

Public Digital has been a strategic partner to Nova Scotia since 2018, and supported the creation of a new ministry - the Department of Cyber Security and Digital Solutions.

Over this time, the Nova Scotia Digital Service has grown from a 30-person innovation team to an 800-person unified ministry operating across the whole government.

Public Digital has worked at ministerial, senior civil service and programme level to transition the Nova Scotian government to a consistent, service-led approach.

We have helped to embed new digital skills, capabilities, accountabilities and ways of working. Our teams have run service discoveries, conducted strategic reviews of legacy technology, created digital and data strategies and stepped in as interim executive leaders. We have worked in policy and programme areas including health, transport, justice, and communities.

What we achieved

  1. 1

    Nova Scotia is now widely recognised as one of Canada’s leading digital provinces, attracting high-quality talent from across the country.

  2. 2

    We provided coaching and support that a digital service that was estimated to cost $3.2m and take over 18 months to deliver was shipped for $800k in half the time.

  3. 3

    We gave leadership advice to help Nova Scotia respond strongly to the MoveIT cyber security incident, minimising damage and clearly communicating with affected citizens.

  4. 4

    We provided interim executive leadership for a major transport modernisation programme which was substantially reset, with new permanent leaders, product-centred ways of working, and an expanding investment approach.

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