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Australian Government Updates Digital Government Strategy

The federal government of Australia released an updated digital government strategy as part of its goal to make Australia one of the top three digital governments in the world by 2025. The updates have been in development for over a year, and the culmination of consultation is an updated 28-page digital government strategy. Under the strategy, the government has set out three priorities for its services in trying to achieve that goal. These priorities are making all government services digitally available, easily accessible, and people and business-centric.

The updated priorities are not too different from those in the previous digital strategy, which had set out priorities of making government easier to deal with through the adoption of myGovID and informing citizens about the government’s use of data.

Delivering the new strategy will entail uplifting digital ecosystems, reusing certain technologies to deliver value for money, and expanding the government’s digital workforce, the Minister responsible for whole-of-government data and digital policy said.

The strategy refresh came days after a Senate committee the federal government lacking in its progress in auditing its IT capabilities. The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration said that progress on an “urgent audit” that the government agreed to undertake was lagging, which has caused delays for its IT advancement. The audit was agreed to based on recommendations made in an independent review of federal government agencies.

The committee also noted that the federal government currently has no central data collection process related to IT expenditure across the government. The independent review uncovered that the government needed to approach uplifting digital capabilities differently.

Together with the strategy refresh, several other digital government movements were also announced including a new whole-of-government architecture, re-use policy and catalogue, whole-of-government digital and IT oversight framework, and trials of cyber hubs.

The new whole-of-government architecture consists of standards, guidance, products, and tools to support federal government agencies for designing digital capability and implementing and operating technologies, Robert said. The architecture would also give industry guidance on the federal government’s IT direction, including the digital capabilities it wants to be built in a reusable way.

The Minister stated that through the whole-of-government architecture, the DTA has worked in concert with government departments and agencies to map out all the strategic capabilities that we require as a government. They are now working towards identifying the existing digital and ICT assets across the whole of government and the capability gaps that need to be filled.

The architecture will be complemented by a re-use policy and catalogue designed to provide government agencies with a more informed view of emerging or existing government platforms and what could potentially be reusable platforms.

Outlining the whole-of-government digital and IT oversight framework, it was noted that all future digital and IT spending proposals put forward by agencies would be required to comply with various government policies, ranging from its digital service standards to cybersecurity guidelines to the re-use catalogue.

In addition, all digital and IT proposals must contain an assurance plan signed off by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) and the relevant department as part of this new oversight framework. This provides an important institutional lever for the government to monitor high cost or high risk digital and ICT-enabled investment proposals, and ensures these proposals align with whole-of-government digital policies from the earliest point in the policy development process, the Minister said.

With regards to the trials of cyber hubs, the Minister explained that the federal government would develop four cyber hubs that will be tasked with protecting all departments and agencies. The cyber hubs will be modelled off Services Australia’s 24/7 Cyber Ops Centre. The trial is an expansion of the DTA’s cyber hub pilot from earlier this year where Home Affairs, Defence, and Services Australia were providers in the pilot. Services Australia, Tax, Defence, and Home Affairs will each be a provider for one cyber hub in the trial.

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