Gov.au to replace 1500 government websites with an uber-portal

By Tom Burton

March 23, 2016

The DTO releases its alpha version of gov.au as it plans to cull from the 1500 websites the federal government already operates that are out of date and bewilder customers. Agencies will lose control under the new arrangement.

The federal government is to close down many of its more than 1500 websites, with the hope to offer an integrated coherent all of government service  through one mega portal website called gov.au.

The first alpha version of the website was released today by the Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation Angus Taylor and the Digital Transformation Office CEO Paul Shetler.

“Gov.au is designed to integrate multiple services from across government. It will guide people through complex tasks — for example, starting a business, moving into aged care, moving house, or travelling overseas — so they can get things done quickly and easily,” Taylor said.

“The Australian government currently operates more than 1000 websites, with information often duplicated and out of date. It can be incredibly frustrating to find your way within and across sites, and many of us know this from personal experience.”

Taylor said government needed to pick up its pace in delivering better public services through digitisation.

“Service transformation is about making life easier for everyone. The private sector has a strong lead over government. Just look at the banks and their move over the past decade to bring transactions online. Australians are also undertaking millions of transactions with government every year.  If we make access to government digital channels easier and faster, we will improve uptake of services and the user experience.

“People don’t want to have to work out which tier of government or which government department to deal with, they just want solutions to their problems.”

Shetler said DTO research confirmed there were over 1500 web sites across the federal government but that citizens did not have a mental model of government. He said much of the content on agency websites was outdated and hard to understand.

This meant they were confused about how to complete a transaction or had an incomplete picture of the information they needed to comply with regulations or to make an application.

Content will be created and managed in the departments as is done currently, but in line with the GOV.AU content style guide which is in development. How this is put together is a critical piece for agencies. The new portal is controversial within government public engagement land as it means many agencies will not be in direct control of their websites. How agency’s specific communications and engagement programs are managed in a technical and work co-ordination level is problematic.

It also means a massive program of content curation and the application of a consistent metadata to ensure the content can be found and has some underlying intelligence.

The DTO this week released its content approach to gov.au which will see four entry-levels: through search, through topics, through life cycle transition points (eg. having a baby ) and through direct links to key URLs.

The current portal Australia.gov.au is now part of the DTO and is expected to be incorporated into gov.au

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