DTA proffers ‘six keys to success’ with whole-of-government digital service platforms

By Stephen Easton

Thursday December 13, 2018

Hot on the heels of the federal Digital Transformation Strategy comes the Digital Service Platforms Strategy, which tells of “six keys to success” when public sector agencies build online service delivery systems to be shared by their counterparts across government.

The latest musings from the DTA provide “essential” guidance for the Australian Public Service, according to Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan. The name of the game is whole-of-government digital platforms and “reusable building blocks” that should strive for the six outcomes:

  • Build trust and confidence – we will need to earn the trust and confidence of the public, governments and other users of digital platforms.
  • Transform our culture, skills and capabilities – we will need a culture that cultivates innovation, and access to the right people with the right skills and capabilities to make digital platforms successful.
  • Use technology and data to connect and unify government services – we will develop digital platforms that are interoperable, flexible and extensible.
  • Strengthen digital leadership, governance and accountabilities – we will define clear roles and accountabilities to govern digital platforms.
  • Address funding and legislative barriers – we will work across government to remove barriers that stop or hinder cross-government collaboration or adoption of digital platforms.
  • Foster collaboration and innovation across government and beyond – we will collaborate and engage with a much broader audience to fully realise the benefits of digital platforms.

Keenan launched the latest Digital Transformation Agency publication today along with a new online directory system for search engines that list providers of government funded and regulated services.

The new website, branded Service Connect, is presented as an example of the kind of whole-of-government “platforms” that are the focus of the new strategy document. So far it hosts a search engine called Child Care Finder, which is exactly what it sounds like, and is to be used as the base for other similar kinds of services in future.

The DTA’s new service platform strategy is paired with an “operating model” that intends to explain how to put it into action and is available to Australian Public Service agencies by request. “In addition, detailed documents will be developed to provide further guidance on building and adopting digital service platforms.”

The platforms strategy includes its own related “roadmap” with three stages labelled as “horizons” and a list of specific initiatives for the next three years, grouped under the six “keys to success” listed earlier.

One aim of shared platforms is “a more consistent user experience across all government services” and a citizen-centric approach, rather than one based around the structure of government, the minister said in a statement.

“This is the only way we will be able to deliver services that are tailored to the needs of Australian people and businesses,” said Keenan. “Service Connect is a strong example of a flexible, interoperable and scalable platform that will deliver a world-class experience to Australians and, at the same time, accelerate the transformation of services by removing the need for individual agencies to design, build, operate and maintain their own services from scratch.”

Keenan’s statement describes the new plan for platforms as “one of the key enablers” of the wider Digital Transformation Strategy he launched at the National Press Club last month and says there is a “strong emphasis on the protection of individual privacy and security” in both.

“The platform strategy makes it clear that security and trust must be built at the core of all platforms that we develop. This is already the case with the platforms that are already in operation, such as myGov, which now has over 14 million users. Privacy and security are also at the very core our new digital identity platform, myGovID.”

Earlier this week the DTA published the first in a series of blog posts about the overarching Digital Transformation Strategy and roadmap that looks out to 2025, explaining its “Tell Us Once and Notifications” platforms.

The new document goes through the theoretical advantages of shared platforms, assuming they can meet the varying needs of different departments, and notes that in the past they have often gone their own ways, operating independently of one another in ways that can appear illogical if the government is viewed as a single entity.

“Over a long period of time we have invented, developed and gathered a large collection of processes, systems and information that are used in the day-to-day delivery of services. This collection of assets is not easily shared between Commonwealth agencies or with state and territory agencies, forcing new processes to be invented, new systems to be built, and the same information to be gathered multiple times from the community. This also leads to increased costs, duplicated effort in government and inconvenience to the user.”

It argues the various bespoke assets that have been narrowly designed for specific purposes at one particular point in time represent poor value for money, and lead to a “fragmented user experience” for citizens.

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