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Keenan lays out priorities for modernising APS

Later today, at the Indonesia–Australia Digital Forum in Jakarta, the cabinet minister Michael Keenan will offer the first look at his digital transformation priorities since picking up responsibilities in the latest ministerial reshuffle.

In his own words, what’s coming is a 24/7 government that everyone can access from anywhere: “We are going to improve the experience of people dealing with government and modernise the Australian Public Service by using technology to help people.”

A new sub-committee of Cabinet — the Digital Transformation and Public Sector Modernisation Committee — has been created to achieve this. Keenan will chair.

In his new role as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation, Keenan has four key priorities:

1. Digitising more government services

SmartGates at Australian borders is the go-to exemplar of digitised government services, halving passenger processing times at airports. Expect more areas of government to be told to replicate that success.

“But the benefits of quality online services extend beyond the improved access to services. During 2016-17 some 81.8 million digital messages and letters were sent to Australians via myGov – saving time, labour and postage costs.

“The myGov inbox is estimated to have saved the taxpayer $100 million since it was launched in 2013. This is another vital outcome from digital transformation done well, a considerable saving to the taxpayer.”

It doesn’t sound like the government will tolerate a sloppy job of digitisation though. Keenan notes that around 40% of Australians will experience a problem accessing and using government services.

2. Delivering better digital services

The government is looking to My Health Record as the case study of digitisation upgrading the value of services and making citizens’ lives better:

“By digitising their records Australians are able to easily share their health information with general practitioners, hospitals, pharmacies or aged care residential services. More than 5 million people currently have a My Health Record, connecting them to more than 10,000 healthcare providers.

“Connected health records improve the patient experience by better coordinating care for people seeing multiple healthcare providers and reducing duplication in diagnostic tests. This leads to better informed treatment decisions, fewer adverse drug effects and less hospital admissions.”

3. Improving the return on ICT investment

The Turnbull government has already conducted a review of how government’s ICT products and services are procured, which lead to a cap on ICT contracts to $100 million over three years to assist smaller businesses getting a foot in the door.

Other shifts include more whole-of-government procurement arrangements to reduce costs. SAP Australia was the initial beneficiary.

This focus continues to develop, with the government’s new Secure Cloud Strategy to be released today.

“Transitioning to cloud technology will allow us to explore common platforms, remove the need for big upfront investments and reduce the amount of maintenance required for services to ‘keep the lights on’.

“The strategy is designed to support agencies looking to adopt cloud services, and address the barriers and security concerns around moving to cloud.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel for every individual agency to access cloud based services and a whole of government approach will save time and money.”

4. Harnessing the power of data

Much has been said on how the government intends to use data to design better services based on real human behaviour. That was supported financially in the last budget with $131 million to establish the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA).

“The government should not hoard data, the vast store of information we have is a national resource providing enormous opportunity for the public and private sectors. DIPA is a coordinated investment to maximise the use of this asset.

“We have already established three data analytical units that will use integrated data to solve complex policy issues in areas such as industry, health and welfare, and the environment.

“For example in Centrelink we use data analytics to look at complaints, establish patterns and then using that information to improve services. Better use of data will help to provide answers to complex policy challenges both now and in the future.”

Top photo: Michael Keenan visiting Centrelink in Mirrabooka after being named Minister for Human Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation.

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The Mandarin

The Mandarin staff journalists.