PM&C’s ‘clear-headed’ ICT strategy encourages new ways of working and agility

By Shannon Jenkins

November 13, 2020

Phil Gaetjens has suspended his ‘who knew what, when’ inquiry into claims of an alleged rape at parliament house in 2019.
Phil Gaetjens has suspended his ‘who knew what, when’ inquiry into claims of an alleged rape at parliament house in 2019. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s new information and communications technology (ICT) strategy aims to put the customer at the centre of service delivery while maintaining public trust, according to department secretary Phil Gaetjens.

In the new strategy released this week, Gaetjens says the Australian Public Service has the opportunity to deliver better services by embracing data and digital technology, but it is currently behind. He notes that the 2019 APS Review found that 58% of APS agencies believe they’re under-skilled in the digital aspects of service delivery.

In light of the events of 2020, PM&C must “harness the full power of technology” in a way that supports and promotes trust in government, Gaetjens says.

“During this period we have been reminded of the importance of the need for our ICT systems and processes to be as strong and streamlined as possible. We also need to approach all government capabilities from a whole of enterprise viewpoint, and ensure we are disciplined in our use, reuse and enhancement of assets,” he says.

“Responding to shifting circumstances with agility and within a complex and evolving cyber security environment demands a clear-headed strategy, one that enables valuable, resilient and secure digital assets as well as intelligent and trusted services and advice.”

The new strategy will guide the department’s investment decisions, approaches and practices through to 2023.

“By setting ourselves up to evolve and adapt, we will be well-positioned to not only serve the government of the day, but also maintain the public’s confidence that we are doing our best, with the best tools available, in their best interests,” the secretary says.

Read more: How government agencies are building digital capability across the workforce

The department has developed four strategic priorities for 2021-23, including to: adopt new ways of working that are customer centric and outcome focused; build flexible, scalable and efficient foundations across the organisation, processes and tools; provide secure, resilient, reliable and reusable digital assets that are valued and trusted; and develop confident and knowledgeable digital capabilities so the department can work at its best in a complex operating environment.

The strategy outlines 24 actions to achieve these priorities, including using automation to streamline processes and services, enhancing PM&C’s cyber maturity, building data skills and capabilities, and developing multi-disciplinary and agile delivery teams.

To drive informed decision making and better outcomes, the department will better utilise common and shared data sources to improve reporting and analytics, the document says. The department will also aim to improve demand management and capacity planning functions, and embed security, resilience, privacy requirements and ethical considerations through policies and controls.

The strategy notes that how people interact with government services — and how governments work together — will continue to change. In order to help the APS tackle future challenges, PM&C must:

  • Ensure it can quickly respond to emerging government priorities, and provide new services,
  • Ensure agencies and the government have easy access to meaningful information for timely decision making,
  • Design processes and technologies that can transcend organisational boundaries and maximise interoperability within the APS enterprise,
  • Work closely with corporate counterparts to ensure the workforce is skilled and digitally enabled,
  • Enable a changing workforce and changing ways of working, and remain an employer of choice,
  • Maintain the highest standards in cyber-security, underpinned by strong privacy and security protections,
  • Enhance the cyber security culture, making sure staff are cyber aware and vigilant,
  • Ensure the ICT capability is fit for purpose so it allows the department and partner agencies to achieve their mission and satisfy statutory obligations.

Read more: CSIRO and Microsoft heads want the Australian public and private sectors to build their digital literacy


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