Morrison announces Services Australia
The Prime Minister has revealed plans to establish Services Australia within the DHS portfolio, tasked with overhauling government service delivery.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced plans to establish a dedicated federal government service delivery agency modelled after Service NSW.
The new organisation, Services Australia, will be part of the Department of Human Services’ portfolio. It will be overseen by a dedicated minister, with Stuart Robert appointed as the first Minister for Government Services as well as Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The new ministry effectively replaces the Minister for Human Service and Digital Transformation position. This role was previously held by Michael Keenan, who retired at the election, and has not been filled in the new ministry.
Announcing the new organisation, Morrison said its goal will be to make it easier for Australians to access the services that they rely on.
“I want to see congestion busting not only on our roads and across our major cities; I want to see congestion busting when it comes to bureaucratic bottlenecks and regulatory bottlenecks, so Australian can get access to those services in a more timely and efficient way for them, making better use of technology and better integrating service delivery across portfolios,” he said.
Services Australia will take its cues from Service NSW, which Morrison called “a very important reform in New South Wales and made dealing with government much easier”.
Service NSW was established in 2014 as a one-stop shop for digital government service delivery, bringing together services including births, deaths and marriages, roads and maritime services, energy rebate information and small business support.
At launch, the organisation was tasked with helping meet the state government’s commitment to ensure 80% of transactions with government can be conducted through digital channels. The organisation believes it is on track to ensure 70% of transactions are digital by the end of this year.
Services Australia’s remit will likewise also involve driving better use of IT and apps for government service delivery, Morrison said.
Morrison’s surprise announcement could indicate that the newly re-elected government is planning a radical new approach to the digitalisation of government services. This has left the fate of the current Digital Transformation Agency up in the air.
Observers have speculated that the agency could be subsumed within Services Australia, or that it could be dissolved, with the service delivery functions shifting to the new agency and the policy and procurement functions returning to its parent entity, the Department of Finance.
The DTA has faced challenges meeting its remit of helping the government enable end-to-end digital service delivery since it was established in 2015. These challenges have included objections from existing service delivery agencies, as well as challenges coordinating digital transformation projects across agencies.
Services Australia will regardless likely play a significant role in implementing the digital service reforms currently being spearheaded by the DTA, such as the myGov online services portal and the MyGovID whole-of-government digital identity system.
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