Digital government snapshot released

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Thursday, 18 April, 2019

Digital government snapshot released

A new report on major federal and state government data and digital transformation activities outlines current and future initiatives.

The Australian Digital Council has published an overview of the main data and digital transformation initiatives across Australian federal, state and territory governments.

The State of the Data and Digital Nation report is designed to act as a snapshot of data and digital initiatives across six categories — policy and strategy, the user experience, products and services, service enablers, internal capabilities, and data sharing and linking.

The report found that the federal and each state and territory government are all engaged in at least one digital strategy. At the federal level, this includes the Digital Transformation Strategy, the Digital Economy Strategy, the Digital Capability Strategy, and the Digital Continuity, Information and Data Strategy.

Examples of policy and strategy initiatives at the state level include a South Australian Government initiative to digitise paper forms and save an estimated 850,000 pieces of paper annually, Western Australia’s Regional Telecommunications Project to establish 231 mobile base stations across regional areas of the state,

User experience initiatives include multiple projects aimed at digitising the process of dealing with government during life events such as births, deaths and marriages.

For example, the Digital Transformation Agency has established life event communities of government agencies from across 30 federal, state and local agencies, with the long-term vision of designing seamless government services that work across all layers of government.

Digital products and services being developed, tested or deployed across Australia include the NSW Government’s digital driver’s licences, the Queensland Government’s streamlined application process for working with children checks, and virtual assistants for welfare support at the federal level.

Service enablement initiatives comprise identity verification processes such as the federal Digital Identity Program and a ‘Tell us once’ authentication proof of concept being trialled in Queensland, as well as web, application development and other solutions aimed at improving service design delivery.

Internal Capabilities initiatives are aimed at building digital capability within government and addressing skills shortages. These cover a wide range of initiatives including skills development programs and frameworks, cybersecurity strategies, API standards and frameworks, and digital investment roadmaps.

Finally, the report finds that most jurisdictions have implemented or are developing data sharing legislation aimed at providing a legal framework for agencies to share data.

These include the federal Data Sharing and Release reforms, the upcoming introduction of the Consumer Data Right and various initiatives to develop data governance frameworks and policies.

Digital Council

The first meeting of the Australian Digital Council was held in Sydney in September 2018, and was formally opened by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. The Council comprises state and territory Ministers with responsibilities for public data and digital transformation. The Council met again in December 2018 and April 2019, with another meeting to be held at a time that was to be decided after the federal election.

A communiqué released at the conclusion of the April meeting made specific mention of efforts to make it easier for businesses to engage with government by improving procurement processes, and also efforts to address the ‘digital divide’.

“A common theme across all jurisdictions is the complexity and cost of government procurement arrangements. It can be difficult and time-consuming for businesses to interact with governments at all levels. Ministers agree to a joint Commonwealth, State and Territory working group focussed on streamlining and improving these arrangements. The working group will liaise with the Australian Procurement and Construction Council and report on its findings later in 2019,” the communiqué said.

“The Council noted the importance of ensuring no one is left behind in the digital transformation of public services. This was of particular importance for jurisdictions with large regional and remote communities. Ministers discussed the range of digital inclusion initiatives already underway across jurisdictions and considered opportunities for further collaboration.

“Ministers agreed to continue to prioritise digital inclusion when agreeing future digital transformation initiatives.”

The Ministers also settled on some new areas of future focus, including:

  • Working towards national Application Programming Interfaces (API) design guides to simplify interactions between people, businesses and systems.
  • Scoping a project to improve services associated with skilling up Australians to participate effectively in the workforce, including in STEM fields, taking into account actions being progressed by COAG councils with responsibility for skills and training.

The Ministers also agreed to consider the questions of e-invoicing and e-planning at the next Council meeting, and further agreed to consider prospects to collaborate on policy matters concerning emerging technologies where national approaches are required, “particularly where friction points exist”.

Australian Digital Council projects
Project Description
Transforming services around life events
Birth The ‘birth of a child’ pilot is aimed at streamlining and digitalising the process for new parents to register the birth of a child.
Death The ‘end of life’ pilot is aimed at streamlining the process to notify governments about a death.
Jobs The ‘looking for work’ pilot is aimed at streamlining engagement with government when looking for employment.
National data approach
Disabilities This project is building a longitudinal and cross-jurisdictional data asset on people with a disability which can be used by governments to improve services for people with disability.
Birth defects This project aims to integrate Western Australian and Commonwealth data to explore the pharmaceuticals taken by mothers while pregnant and potential adverse effects on babies.
Making government easy to deal with
Dealing with government This project aims to share approaches and best practice between jurisdictions to streamline and simplify businesses’ interaction with governments.
Digital identity and access management This project aims to identify and resolve issues of online identity verification across jurisdictions including how to participate in the Commonwealth’s digital identity program, GovPass.
Building trust and community engagement
State of the data and digital nation publication This project aims to publish a document highlighting key data and digital transformation initiatives underway across jurisdictions.
Digital inclusion This project aims to share insights on practical actions that jurisdictions can implement to enable the benefits of digital transformation to be realised by all Australians.
Building and maintaining community trust This project aims to encourage a unified strategy across jurisdictions on building trust with the public when developing new data sharing projects and/or digital reforms.
Security and resilience
Secure building management systems This project relates to developing a strategy to protect and increase the resilience of jurisdictions’ critical infrastructure assets, as building management systems become more automated and digitised.
New projects
New projects for consideration at the next Council meeting
  • National API design guidelines
  • Facilitating the skilling of Australians to participate effectively in the workforce, particularly STEM fields
  • Collaboration on e-invoicing and e-planning
  • Collaboration on policy matters relating to emerging technologies.

Table adapted from the State of the Data and Digital Nation report, courtesy Australian Digital Council and PMC.

Image credit: ©šan Janković.

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