Tom Burton: myGov shopfronts open doors to digital federalism

A new myGov shopfront in Sydney opens the possibility of delivering many government services — national, state and local — through common platforms. But it will require leadership.

The opening of a new myGov shopfront in Sydney’s Martin Place this week represents a major shift in the delivery of public services — and a possible model for a major rethink of the whole architecture of government.

At surface level the shopfront brings together a series of federal government services under one roof, with staff from the Department of Human Services, Australian Tax Office and Medicare offering tax, job search, e-health, veterans’ affairs and disability services. All staff are in generic office uniforms and are trained to handle a multiplicity of services now being offered under the banner of myGov, the federal identity portal linking Australian government services.

The shopfront follows a successful trial in Brisbane of a similar concept and emulates the work the New South Wales government has being doing around Service NSW and the bringing together of over 400 different applications into one system.

Both provide what the industry calls “self service” — digital applications which enable citizens and customers to manage their own affairs with government through the internet, with human assistance where needed.

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