World’s first ‘sludge-a-thon’ to make government easier

The sludge-a-thon is an exciting opportunity to rapidly improve customer experience by identifying and eliminating sludge from government processes and services.



Government provides essential services that should be easy to access for everyone, but unnecessary frictions can get in the way of this. The term ‘sludge’ refers to this unnecessary administrative burden and effort, which can make it hard for customers to get things done, such as confusing instructions, complicated forms or hard to navigate websites.

A 'sludge audit' helps public servants to identify and quantify frictions that customers experience and prioritise which sludge to reduce first.

Streamlining processes

The sludge-a-thon was devised to rapidly support multiple sludge audits. In its first year, 11 customer processes were audited at the 2021 sludge-a-thon. The goal was to discover and reduce sludge to save customers time and effort.

Using behavioural science, public servants designed solutions that are projected to save customers $24.5 million annually and the equivalent of 141 years in time. For example:

  • A small change to the MyService login process flipped the default for customers accessing their account when they have forgotten their password.
  • This led to a saving of 7 minutes for each customer, who would otherwise have had to contact Service NSW for support.

processes costing 5.2 million customers about $190 million each year were streamlined during the first sludge-a-thon in 2021.

Saving time and effort

Reaching more customers in 2022

In 2022, the sludge-a-thon increased in scope, this time it opened to all areas of government. Participants worked to identify and reduce sludge in 12 customer facing processes across NSW, for wide ranging customer impact.

View the resources in the Sludge Toolkit that help government reduce sludge and deliver on its customer commitments – saving customers time, money and effort.

2022 sludge-a-thon


applications received.


services shortlisted for intensive support.


other services will receive assistance from the Department of Customer Service.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the sludge-a-thon. It’s about getting the right message to our customers at the right time without bogging them down with paperwork or jargon (sludge)."

– Sludge-a-thon participant

"We applied for sludge-a-thon with the intention to implement a solution and we will have a meeting with our manager tomorrow to discuss implementation."

– Sludge-a-thon participant

Find out more about the report

Case studies

See examples of how we embed a customer focused approach to services, programs and initiatives.


Find out how our customers are experiencing our services. They include the people, communities and businesses of NSW.

Customer Commitments

Read about our promise to customers on what to expect when interacting with our services.

Key metrics

Find how State of the Customer reports on our goal to deliver easy, effective, and trustworthy services.


See a range of services we deliver that cater to customers with different needs and circumstances.


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