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CEO Gavin Slater outlines five key priorities for Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency

Photo credit: DTA

Speaking an Australian Information Industry Association event, DTA’s CEO, Gavin Slater outlined five priority areas for the agency. The delivery of these priorities would require not just collaboration among all government agencies, but also public-private participation, as all the capabilities required are not present within the Australian Public Service (APS).

These priority areas are related to three broad objectives in the government’s digital transformation ambitions: 1) To see continued migration of government services to digital channels; 2) To significantly improve the experience for individuals and businesses; and 3) To get improved outcomes from taxpayer’s money spent on ICT.

The first priority for DTA is to develop a clear digital service delivery roadmap for the whole of government to ensure money is being invested in the transformation initiatives that will have the biggest impact on people using digital services.

The second priority follows on from the first. It is about improving the core platforms that support the big service transactions and life events, in order to enable the initiatives that have the most favourable impact.

“This means there needs to be ongoing regular delivery of increased functionality and improved user experience across platforms, like myTax, myHealth, myGov and business-facing platforms,” Mr. Slater said.

(DTA is working with the Department of Human Services to steadily improve myGov. A revamped version with a new look and feel was launched in May this year.)

There is also a need to rationalise and simplify government websites and millions of pages of content. But Mr. Slater clarified that he did not mean that one website is the answer.

Quick and easy online identification, verification and authentication of individuals and businesses would be key to this priority.

(In May, Australia post announced that it will work with the DTA to integrate its own identity technology into the Commonwealth's Digital Identity Framework.)

The third priority is to building capability to effectively monitor the performance of the whole-of-government ICT project portfolio. Mr. Slater explained that it would be an approach similar to how venture capitalists treat the businesses they have invested in, constantly scrutinising the performance of the portfolio to decide which projects they have low levels of confidence in and others that require an intervention to increase their chances of success.

The ongoing monitoring would allow DTA to identify successful initiatives, key delivery risks, areas of duplication, provide advice on remediation, and opportunities to leverage common platforms and cloud services.

(Earlier this year, the creation of a new Digital Investment Management Office within DTA was announced to provide a comprehensive picture of the government’s ICT and digital technology investments.)

DTA’s fourth priority is to continue to level the playing field for small and medium Australian businesses looking to do business with government.

The Digital Marketplace initiative currently connects 655 buyers and 533 registered sellers. 217 opportunities have been posted and more than AU$33.7m contracts have been awarded. But more need to be done.

Mr. Slater mentioned issues faced by small business owners. For example, there is still a lack of willingness on part of the government to move away from large entrenched supplier relationships and giving a chance to a small suppliers due to the perceived delivery risk. Another barrier is the upfront investment required to achieve the necessary security clearances for staff and product solutions before the small suppliers can work with government. Mr. Slater reiterated DTA’s commitment to eliminating these barriers to entry.

The fifth priority is to establish a sustainable program for uplifting the digital capability of staff across the public service

In support of this, Mr. Slater talked about plans to set up innovation labs in DTA’s Canberra and Sydney offices. The labs will provide the environment to bring in staff from across the APS.

“It will be where they can learn how to approach issues with a fresh perspective and with customer-centred design thinking, rapid prototyping, building alpha and beta versions, launching, measuring and iterating,” Mr. Slater said.

Read the complete speech here

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