A digital service for Nova Scotia

Natasha Clarke
Nova Scotia Digital Service
3 min readNov 29, 2019


We have an announcement to make: today marks the official launch of the Nova Scotia Digital Service, a new team within the Government of Nova Scotia.

We have a mandate to apply internet-era ways of working to service delivery in the province. Very soon, we’re going to need to hire more people to help us do that.

I’ll come back to the hiring thing later. First, let me tell you how we got to where we are now.

We’re pivoting to put people first

The Nova Scotia Digital Service (NSDS) is responsible for:

• Delivering excellent services, built around the needs of users

• Providing public servants with the digital services and tools they need to enable collaboration, add value and be effective

• Support and enable the Nova Scotia public service in how they can use new approaches to deliver better government in the digital era

We’re called a “digital” service for a reason. It’s because we want to help the government of Nova Scotia work the way that people expect things to work these days.

Our friend Tom Loosemore, from UK-based consultants Public Digital, defined digital as:

“Applying the culture, processes, business models and technologies of the internet era to respond to people’s raised expectations.”

The internet era has changed how most of us shop, travel, communicate, exercise, watch TV, everything. It’s changing how we interact with government services too — but if we’re going to make that work, government needs to respond.

That’s why we have the NSDS.

We’re new, and we have a new name, but we’ve already done a few things you may have heard about:

Heating Assistance Rebate

Ticket Lottery Permits

Online Dealer Service

We’re going to need some help

As Nova Scotia’s first Chief Digital Officer, it’s my privilege to be leading this team as it takes its first steps.

If you look again at Tom’s definition of digital above, you’ll see the first thing he mentions is “culture”. Culture starts with people, and that’s where we’re starting too.

We’re going to be investing in teams, giving them problems to solve, and letting them find the best way to solve them. Those teams will be made up of a diverse mix of people with different backgrounds and skills. We will give them air cover to work differently: they’ll have the OK to continuously experiment, iterate the services they build as they go along, and document what they learn in the open for everyone to learn from.

Investing in people on the team helps us deliver for the people who matter most: the citizens of Nova Scotia.

This is going to be tricky, complicated, hard work. But it’s work that matters, because the results will have a direct positive effect on the lives of our friends, families and neighbors in Nova Scotia.

We’re going to need more people who care about delivering great services, protecting citizens’ information, and making it easier for other public servants to do their jobs.

If that sounds like work you want to be part of, stay tuned. We will be advertising some roles soon, and we’ll publish details about them here.

Watch this blog for more updates, or follow me on Twitter: I’m @tashclarke73