August 6, 2020

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Australia’s Architecture Taskforce releases beta concepts and canvases

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The Whole of Government Architecture Taskforce is developing an architecture-based understanding of existing opportunities, to reuse common capabilities and platforms across agencies. The aim is to further streamline government services.

Image credit: https://www.dta.gov.au

This whole-of-government (WofG) architecture will provide a better user experience through cross-agency design and investment decisions. The vision is to improve from ‘siloed capabilities’ to ‘connected platforms and services’.

The initiative was announced in November 2019 and the WofG Architecture Taskforce was established to begin the work. The taskforce is made up of secondees from the large government agencies, supported by DTA architects.

The taskforce work supports increasing the visibility and re-use of existing and planned cross-government services and platforms.

The focus is on providing tools and capabilities to support agencies and government to invest in integrated capabilities.

An objective of the taskforce is to take government from siloed capabilities to a landscape of connected platforms and services.

Architecture concepts

One stream of the taskforce’s current work is to develop a framework of architecture concepts. The term ‘concepts’ refers to categories of architectural components relevant to the taskforce’s objective. We selected these concepts from the range of components needed to conduct the business of government.

For example, one concept is ‘Government Service’, shown in the diagram below. This is the end-to-end means of meeting a user need, such as applying for the age pension, or lodging a tax return.

Another concept is ‘Platform’. Agencies can reuse this building block in many government service delivery contexts. A platform is a ‘black box’ that exposes services — called ‘Enabling Services’. These are used by many systems and processes that deliver government services to people and businesses.

Government architecture concepts; Image credit: https://www.dta.gov.au/

The line of visibility

A ‘line of visibility’ separates the concepts. Those above the line relate to the reasons people and organisations engage with government. The concepts below the line relate to the means of government service delivery. The central concept, ‘Government Service’, straddles the line of visibility. It also links to the current and potential initiatives to develop new platforms and shared capabilities.

The purpose of the concepts model

The concepts model provides an easy-to-understand structure to simplify the complexity of government. It defines core architecture concepts and illustrates them with examples and clarifications, offering a new way of looking at government architecture. It emphasises improving service delivery for users and identifying common capabilities.

The selected architecture concepts provide a foundation for the Taskforce’s other streams. For example, the Taskforce is also cataloguing existing platforms. It will list the enabling services each platform provides and map them to the relevant business capability.

Applying the concepts model

The Beta concepts model includes architecture canvas templates, which we have trialed with the agencies involved. The canvases are 1-page views of a single government service or business scenario. They show the government components contributing to the service or scenario.

For example, in the scenario of a person needing income support, the customer may access several government products or services. These might be services like JobSeeker, Veteran’s Pension, Carer Allowance, or tax offsets. Another example is the scenario of a business importing goods from overseas. They will access government services such as Import Permit, Customs Duty Assessment, and Biosecurity Clearance. A scenario canvas shows all these possibilities and the important components that enable their delivery.

A canvas focused on a government service maps the details of the components to deliver that service. The canvas view gives a clearer insight into what makes a government service work.

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