One form does it all — vision or hallucination?

By John Glenn

April 11, 2022

Public sector-led initiatives relying on traditional advice from traditional sources deliver yesterday’s answers for tomorrow’s problems. (Anatoliy Karlyuk/Adobe)


The AFR article (End to multiple forms as ‘tell us once’ becomes possible, 1 April 2022) suggests that “Citizens will be saved from having to complete multiple forms to access government services, including emergency payments following fires and floods, after the senate supported a new public data sharing law.”

Be wary of flying pigs.

The Data Availability and Transparency Act (DATA), passed in the last days of parliament, was in gestation for five years. It provides a legal environment that will allow you to register for something once, and for the information to flow across agencies and states.  

Data sharing could be a huge step forward if it ever gets implemented. Unfortunately, all we have done in five years is allowed for something to be done.

Hardly success in a modern world that, in five years, has seen: bushfires, floods, Black Lives Matter, Trump, COVID, Brexit, Megxit…Blockchain, cryptocurrency, cloud, Xaas (everything as a service). Bet you can add a few more.

Five years to write, with a five-year sunset clause. If we want something done, we best be looking for action, not activity. Not a public sector strong point.

International companies are prohibited from participating, and Australian private sector players may only gain access after a review in three years. It is being left to “mature” as a public sector tool.

Leaving it to government doesn’t seem a good option if you want outcomes. I have just been through the challenge of dealing with the passing of my parents. Couldn’t even fill in a pdf online. Download, print, handraulic and snail-mail. Have you tried MyGov? Multiple logins, no data sharing, an inconsistent experience even within a single jurisdiction.

Hardly evidence of ground-breaking success after the millions (billions) spent on the lauded digital transformations. Competitive businesses would wither, and the non-performing executives pruned, with that performance.

The legislation was slow in coming and hardly perfect. But it’s useless without execution, stymied without pressure, competitive or otherwise. I’m okay with it being led by the public sector if they are held to account: outcomes in useful timeframes.

Public sector-led initiatives relying on traditional advice from traditional sources deliver yesterday’s answers for tomorrow’s problems. Rinse and repeat isn’t good enough.

It’s time to try something different, to deliver effects not activity – and to add a third leg of Consequence to the two-legged stool of Responsibility, Accountability.


Problem-solving data privacy to plan for whole-of-life digital health

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