Making it better isn’t good enough

William Heath is the latest person to experience the joys of online tax disc renewal.  As usual, his analysis is spot on:

Hurrah for the car tax disc renewal process. It used to be both inconvenient and pointless. Now it’s just pointless.

Not being inconvenient is, of course, a big step forward, but still falls into the trap of self-importance.  As I wrote a few weeks ago:

People in government often like to think that government is important, failing to realise that they are seeing it from a rather unusual point of view.  For most people, most of the time, government is most successful when it is least visible, or perhaps least intrusive.

This is a hard lesson for any service provider, particularly one which is, quite rightly, enjoying near universal praise for its service.  But there is a category of services for which invisibility is the greatest virtue.  Tax disc renewal must surely be one of them.  Getting it right then requires changing the question you think you are answering.  As long as tax disc renewal is the question, the current DVLA online service is not far short of being as good as it gets.  Changing the question to something on the lines of, how do we best ensure that cars are insured and basically roadworthy and that we know who they belong to, while raising a chunk of revenue for government, would open up the possibility of some very different answers.