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Australia

Digitization of Government Services (AU0007)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Australia National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Digital Transformation Agency (policy@digital.gov.au)

Support Institution(s): Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Non-government organisations (including Australian Open Government Partnership Network), private sector and the public

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Australia End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Australia Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Objective and description: Australia will continue to invest in digital technologies to make government services simpler, faster and cheaper, making it easier for the public to work and interact with government. We will do this by preparing a digital transformation roadmap, and establishing public dashboards to improve transparency around the performance of government services. Status Quo: The Digital Transformation Agency is an executive agency within the Prime Minister’s portfolio. Its mission is to lead the transformation of government services to deliver a better experience for Australians. Innovative use of digital technologies supports the open government agenda, through the provision of faster, cheaper and more accessible government services. While some progress has been made, there is an opportunity to seize the benefits of the digital revolution to improve the way government interacts with the public. The Australian Government’s Digital Service Standard requires that services are designed to ensure accessibility to all users, regardless of their ability and environment. It requires that people who use the digital service can also use the other available channels (face-to-face and telephony) if needed, without repetition or confusion. Ambition: To use digital technologies to promote transparency and public participation in government service delivery, engaging early and often with users throughout, so that government services meet the needs of the people who use them. The Digital Transformation Agency will work with government agencies to deliver a roadmap for the digital transformation of government services with clear milestones, including delivery timelines and key performance indicators. It will also continue to work with Australian Government agencies to use dashboards to transparently measure the performance of services as required under the Digital Service Standard., and which will be benchmarked against best practice in the private sector. Relevance: This commitment will advance the OGP values of technology and innovation and transparency by: increasing public access to government services; making government services more efficient and cheaper; and increasing transparency around performance of government services. COMMITMENT DETAILS: OGP Grand Challenge Improving Public Services. Timeframes December 2016 – Ongoing. Lead agency Digital Transformation Agency (policy@digital.gov.au). Other actors involved. Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Non-government. Non-government organisations (including Australian Open Government Partnership Network), private sector and the public

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Digitally transform the delivery of government services

Commitment Text:

Australia will continue to invest in digital technologies to make government services simpler, faster and cheaper, making it easier for the public to work and interact with government.

We will do this by preparing a digital transformation roadmap, and establishing public dashboards to improve transparency around the performance of government services.

[…]

Milestones:

  1. Deliver a whole-of-government digital transformation roadmap.
  2. Release agency-level digital transformation roadmaps.
  3. Release and promote a beta version of the Digital Marketplace for ICT procurement.
  4. Release and promote a live dashboard measuring the performance of government services, with user satisfaction being one of the key performance indicators.

Responsible institution: Digital Transformation Agency

Supporting institution(s): Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and various non-government organisations

Start date: December 2016 End date: Ongoing

Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text, see the Australia National Action Plan available at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Australia_NAP_201....

Context and Objectives
This commitment relates to the release of information about the development and use of digital technologies in the delivery and transparency of government services.

There are currently more than 1,500 commonwealth government websites, with more than 44 million content items.[1] The Commonwealth Government’s Digital Transformation Agenda was announced in the 2015-16 Federal Budget.[2] It involved establishing the Digital Transformation Office, which has since been transformed into the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA).[3] It also included funding initiatives related to the digital delivery of government services, such as developing a digital services standard, and common platforms to facilitate digital transformations within agencies.[4]

The development of digital delivery of government services is primarily the role of individual government agencies. The role of the DTA, along with other agencies, such as the National Archives of Australia and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, is to assist agencies in developing their digital delivery systems while developing common platforms and standards. The distributed nature of the development of digital services makes it difficult to monitor those developments and establish and compare their performance in the delivery of government services and facilitating interaction with government, including use, efficiencies and user satisfaction, across agencies.

The establishment of a whole-of-government roadmap will provide further information about the process and timing of the various initiatives making up the digital transformation agenda. Similarly, agency-level roadmaps are likely to provide further information about the nature and timing of initiatives relating to digital delivery of services within individual agencies.

The Digital Marketplace is part of the Commonwealth Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, announced in December 2015.[5] It is intended to provide an online marketplace where government agencies can outline a ‘brief’ of their digital product or service requirements and providers of those services, who have already been assessed on their corporate stability and digital expertise, can respond.[6] As Mel Flanagan, an open data advocate, content creator and developer suggests, the Digital Marketplace may make it easier for small to medium suppliers of digital and associated expertise to compete for government contracts and allow them to pitch innovative solutions.[7]

The Digital Transformation Agenda’s aim to increase the transparency of digitisation projects also includes providing users and government with access to data and analytics about the performance of digital delivery services and development, as well as making public key performance indicators on the initiatives within the Agenda as well as other whole-of-government activities. One of the ways in which these indicators will be made available will be through a live Performance Dashboard indicating compliance with the DTA’s Digital Service Standard.[8] The Digital Service Standard applies to all new, redesigned or high volume transactional services, allowing individuals and business to transact with the government, including providing information, money or goods, or new or redesigned services providing information to the public.[9] The Standard includes requirements for services within its scope to measure and report on indicators relating to user satisfaction, take up of the digital service, completion rate and cost per transaction.[10] Those reports will be made publicly available through the live dashboard which is the subject of milestone 4.

This commitment is of medium specificity. The commitment overall is objectively verifiable but some of the milestones could benefit from more detailed scope. For example, how the Beta version will be promoted, and how feedback and its development will be managed, is not clear. In terms of relevance to OGP values, the live dashboard will allow the public to have access to government performance in delivering services.

The commitment overall is of minor potential impact. A live dashboard would make it easier for the public to access information about government services and, to the extent it includes measures relating to user satisfaction and service accessibility, go beyond existing reporting requirements relating to expenditure and legislative compliance. As suggested in the Beta version of the Dashboard, the data underlying the performance measurements is made public on data.gov.au in an open format, further increasing its potential use in scrutinising and comparing government service performance. As a Beta version, the operation of the Digital Marketplace will also be subject to feedback from potential suppliers of digital services, increasing opportunities for civic participation.

The impact of the dashboard will depend on the extent to which its use is monitored and enforced, especially the extent it is applied to existing high-volume transactional services. Even if fully realised, the impact of the dashboard will also be limited by the criteria to be applied in evaluating service delivery performance and the public perception, at least, that it relates to the performance of the digital delivery aspect of the service rather than the user experience of the service considered as a whole.

In terms of the roadmap, stakeholders interviewed raised concerns over the relatively undefined nature of the criteria to be applied in assessing compliance with the digital services standard, and the resources and influence of the DTA in being able to enforce compliance. The roadmap is also not likely to be directly enforceable or otherwise provide for accountability in the completion of the initiatives mapped.

Completion

Milestone 7.1: This milestone was completed. The whole-of-government digital transformation road map[11] was launched on 15 December 2016.[12] It provides only a one-page overview of the main elements of the Digital Transformation Agenda, and strategies relating to ICT and Procurement, Digital platforms, and program management mapped against expected timelines. It includes Agency Transformation plans that were due to be completed by mid-2017, and Consolidated sector/domain transformation plans to be developed from April 2017 through to the end of 2018.

Milestone 7.2: This milestone was not started. The IRM researcher could find no evidence that Agencies had released roadmaps at the time of writing. Despite both email and phone communication with the DTA, an interview with the IRM researcher could not be arranged within publication deadlines. The Government’s Mid-Term Self-Assessment report states that the DTA is on track to support agencies in the creation of sector-wide roadmaps, indicating that sector-wide roadmaps may now be given priority over agency-specific roadmaps. In its submission to the Finance and Public Administration Committee inquiry into Digital Delivery of Government Services, the DTA listed as one of its priorities for 2017-18 the development of a digital transformation roadmap which shows how users interact with government across different portfolios, including tracking ‘life journeys’ involving engagement with government in finding work and growing a business.[13]

Milestone 7.3: This milestone was completed. The Digital Marketplace continues to be publicly available online in its Beta form.[14] It was expanded in February 2017 to accommodate an unlimited number of sellers and an increased number of product and service categories including cyber security, data science, content and publishing, marketing, communications and engagement, support and operations and emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and virtual reality.[15] The DTA has promoted the Marketplace through media releases, social media and internal government communications.[16] However, Mel Flanagan, indicated that she became aware of the Marketplace after involvement with the OGP process and was concerned that it was not being widely promoted, particularly in sectors not traditionally involved with government software and hardware procurement.[17]

Milestone 7.4: This milestone was completed. The Beta Version of the Performance Dashboard was made publicly available in February 2017.[18] The DTA has promoted the Dashboard through media releases, social media and internal government communications.

Early Results (if any)

The Government’s Mid-Term Self-Assessment report claims that the Digital Marketplace has 'dramatically increased SME involvement and made procurement of a range of services easier'. At the end of September 2017, the Marketplace had 275 opportunities from Government, 620 sellers of services approved, and registered more than 760 buyers from the Commonwealth, State and Territory and Local governments.[19] More than $40 million in government contracts had been awarded. Mel Flanagan suggested that it was too early to assess whether the Marketplace had made it easier to identify, and, importantly, be successful in securing opportunities to supply digital products and services.[20]

As at the end of September 2017, the Performance Dashboard monitored eight government services and products.[21]

Next Steps

Further information about the Government’s use of digital services should be made publicly available and widely promoted as an incidental part in their development as a way to increase their use and value to the community. Agency or sector-specific roadmaps could be developed and continually reviewed by the DTA as part of providing information to the public on the potential benefits of future developments. The DTA’s proposed use of ‘life cycle’ maps, reflecting how developments of digital services will impact on the way individuals engage with governments, may be a useful approach if they included collaboration with civic society and other interested individuals. However, their minor potential impact on increasing public access to government information or enhancing public participation limits their value in being included in future action plans.

The Digital Marketplace has the potential to not only match up government buyers and private sellers of digital services, but increase transparency over the approach taken by government agencies to procurement of government services. The Marketplace could be expanded to include reporting on the lifecycle of projects, including where possible the terms on which sellers were engaged and the outcomes, if any, of the projects undertaken or individuals engaged.

The Performance Dashboard also potentially provides a useful insight into the performance of government programs if it is comprehensive and accurate. However, unless incorporated as part of a process of holding agencies accountable for their performance, perhaps including the involvement of civil society and other user groups, the impact of this milestone is not likely to be sufficient to warrant inclusion in the next national action plan.

It should also be noted that the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee commenced an inquiry into the Digital Delivery of Digital Services on 16 August 2017.[22] After two extensions extension, the Committee is now due to report by 14 May 2018. This report may give rise to additional recommendations relevant to the elements of this commitment.


[1] DTA, ‘Digital Delivery of Government Services’, submission to the Finance and Public Administration References Committee inquiry into Digital Delivery of Digital Services, 29 September 2017, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Finance_and_Public_Administration/digitaldelivery/Submissions

[4] DTA, ‘The Digital Transformation Agenda in the 2015-16 Federal Budget’, https://www.dta.gov.au/blog/the-digital-transformation-agenda-in-the-2015-16-federal-budget/.

[6] National Innovation and Science Agenda, ‘Digital Marketplace’, https://www.innovation.gov.au/page/digital-marketplace

[7] Interview with Mel Flanagan, Nook Studios, 23 August 2017.

[8] The Digital Service Standard, https://www.dta.gov.au/standard/; It came into effect on 6 May 2016 (see DTA Blog, ‘Digital Service Standard goes live’, https://www.dta.gov.au/blog/standard-goes-live/.

[9] DTA, ‘Scope of the Digital Service Standard’, https://www.dta.gov.au/standard/scope-of-standard/

[10] DTA, Digital Service Standard, ‘11 Measure performance’, https://www.dta.gov.au/standard/11-measure-performance/.

[12] DTA, ‘Digital steps to benefit users’, https://www.dta.gov.au/news/digital-steps-to-benefit-users/

[13] DTA, Submission to the Finance and Public Administration Committee Inquiry into Digital Delivery of Governments Services, 29 September 2017, at p 4, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Finance_and_Public_Administration/digitaldelivery/Submissions

[15] DTA, ‘Digital Marketplace opens for new sellers’, https://www.dta.gov.au/news/marketplace-expansion/; Other areas include strategy and policy, user research and design, and software engineering and governance: See Digital Marketplace, ‘what you can buy’, https://marketplace1.zendesk.com/hc/en-gb/articles/115011271567-What-you-can-buy.

[16] Interview with Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra ACT, 7 September 2017.

[17] Interview with Mel Flanagan, Nook Studios, 23 August 2017.

[18] Performance Dashboard Overview, https://dashboard.gov.au/

[19] Digital Marketplace, https://marketplace.service.gov.au/; See also DTA, Submission to the Finance and Public Administration Committee Inquiry into Digital Delivery of Governments Services, 29 September 2017, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Finance_and_Public_Administration/digitaldelivery/Submissions

[20] Interview with Mel Flanagan, Nook Studios, 23 August 2017.

[21] Performance Dashboard Overview, https://dashboard.gov.au/; See also DTA, Submission to the Finance and Public Administration Committee Inquiry into Digital Delivery of Governments Services, 29 September 2017, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Finance_and_Public_Administration/digitaldelivery/Submissions.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 7. Digitally transform the delivery of government services

Commitment Text:

Australia will continue to invest in digital technologies to make government services simpler, faster and cheaper, making it easier for the public to work and interact with government.

We will do this by preparing a digital transformation roadmap, and establishing public dashboards to improve transparency around the performance of government services.

[…]

Milestones:

  1. Deliver a whole-of-government digital transformation roadmap.
  2. Release agency-level digital transformation roadmaps.
  3. Release and promote a beta version of the Digital Marketplace for ICT procurement.
  4. Release and promote a live dashboard measuring the performance of government services, with user satisfaction being one of the key performance indicators.

Responsible institution: Digital Transformation Agency

Supporting institution(s): Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and various non-government organisations

Start date: December 2016                          End date: Ongoing

Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text, see the Australia National Action Plan available at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Australia_NAP_2016-2018_0.pdf.

Commitment Aim:

This commitment related to the release of information on the development and use of digital technologies in the delivery and transparency of government services. It includes establishment of both whole-of-government and agency-level roadmaps to provide further information on the process and timing of the various initiatives related to the digital delivery of government services. It will also encourage the development of standards and platforms, including a single Digital Marketplace to facilitate procurement of digital services by government and dashboards to provide information on the performance of digital delivery services.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

By the midterm of the first national action plan this commitment had seen substantial completion. The whole-of-government digital transformation roadmap was launched on 15 December 2016 (milestone 1), [80] but agency-level roadmaps had not been released (milestone 2). Milestone 3 was completed, with a Digital Marketplace available in a beta form and expanded to accommodate an unlimited number of sellers and an increased number of product and service categories in February 2017. The beta version of the Performance Dashboard was also made publicly available in February 2017 (milestone 4). Both the Digital Marketplace and Performance Dashboard were promoted through various digital media channels.

For more information, please see the midterm Progress Report.

End of term: Completed

This commitment has been completed, though with roadmaps for individuals [81] and business [82] replacing agency-centred roadmaps as originally proposed. The roadmaps provide an approximate timeline for projects intended to improve government digital service delivery. The improvements are grouped into themes of personalised information and advice, simplified, streamlined, and joined-up services, and, for businesses, simplified identity for interactions with government. A user can filter the projects based on various options (such as education, age, family, and health for individuals, and various stages of a business). A brief description of the relevance of the project, delivery goal, government agency involved, and where to find more information, is also provided.

In the two years in which the Digital Marketplace [83] has operated, it hosted 1,000 opportunities relating to digital technology and services, involving contracts in excess of AUD$248 million. As of September 2018, based on information provided by the DTA, [84] the marketplace had more than 1,700 buyers from almost 100 government agencies, with more than 100 sellers or providers of digital services listed.

The Performance Dashboard [85] provides information for 11 services showing current and historic performance against four criteria: user satisfaction, cost per transaction, digital take-up, and completion rate. Some services have additional metrics that are also provided. It is possible to download the data underlying the dashboards. The services range from a redesign of the website for the Department of Human Services [86] to the Australian Citizenship Appointment Booking Service [87] and include the Performance Dashboard itself. [88]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Overall this commitment has only had a marginal effect on increasing access to government information. The roadmaps now provide a publicly accessible link to information on government digital projects that previously would have required monitoring of individual websites or opportunities to tender as part of the government procurement process. However, there is no public means to be notified of changes. The individual and business roadmaps, while completed and publicly available, continue to be refined and include several broken links.

As described above, the Performance Dashboard [89] includes a limited number (i.e., 11) and range of services. The information on some services seems out of date, [90] and there is a limited amount of information available for some services. [91] According to information on the Performance Dashboard itself, there were insufficient responses to determine user satisfaction in using the Dashboard. Between 616 and 1,288 people used the Dashboard each month during 2018, with usually less than 50 percent going beyond the first page to the dashboards for individual services. Additional metrics indicated that less than 20 percent of users returned to the Dashboard, the most popular means by which they found it was through search engines, and that all services provided data to it manually. [92]

The Digital Marketplace is generally perceived as having provided a useful means to link up providers of digital services with government agencies seeking those services. In interviews for this report, James Horton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Datanomics Pty Ltd and member of the Open Government Partnership Forum, suggested that further independent analysis would be required to indicate whether the Digital Marketplace had created additional opportunities for suppliers to pitch innovative products, or whether suppliers are able to get access to additional information than was previously available. [93]

Carried Forward?

The second national action plan does not include commitments relating to improvement of government digital services or further development of the milestones in this commitment. [94] The midterm Progress Report emphasised the routine needed to make available and widely promote further information on the government’s use of digital services. The report recommended a more consultative approach to the development and prioritisation of digital service projects be adopted, [95] and evaluation of the projects’ impact made publicly available.

The Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee delivered a report on digital delivery of government services in June 2018. [96] The Committee recommended that a whole-of-government vision and strategic plan be developed, with establishment of key performance measures centred on user experience evaluated and reported on regularly, to improve accountability in digital services procurement decisions, and that there be regular reporting on steps taken to further improve digital capability within the Australian Public Service. If adopted by the government, these recommendations may be suitable for inclusion as commitments in future national action plans.

[80] Government Digital Transformation Roadmap, https://www.dta.gov.au/what-we-do/transformationagenda/roadmap/#image (accessed 29/4/2019). [81] DTA, Roadmap of service improvements for individuals, https://beta.dta.gov.au/our-projects/digital-transformation-roadmaps/roadmap-for-individuals (accessed 19/9/2018). [82] DTA, Roadmap of service improvements for business, https://beta.dta.gov.au/our-projects/digital-transformation-roadmaps/roadmap-for-business-users (accessed 19/9/2018). [83] DTA, Digital Marketplace, https://marketplace.service.gov.au/. [84] DTA, Digital Marketplace celebrates 1000 opportunities in 2 years, https://www.dta.gov.au/news/digital-marketplace-celebrates-1000-opportunities-in-2-years/ (accessed 19/9/2018). [85] The Performance Dashboard, https://dashboard.gov.au/. [86] Gov.au, Performance dashboard: humanservices.gov.au, https://dashboard.gov.au/dashboards/11-humanservices-gov-au. [87] This service allows a person to reschedule a citizenship test appointment, see gov.au, Performance dashboard: Australian Citizenship Appointment Booking Service, https://dashboard.gov.au/dashboards/2-australian-citizenship-appointment-booking-service. [88] Gov.au, Performance Dashboard: Performance Dashboard, https://dashboard.gov.au/dashboards/8-performance-dashboard-dashboard. [89] The Performance Dashboard, https://dashboard.gov.au/. [90] For example, the Australian Citizenship Appointment Booking Service Dashboard was last updated on 23 March 2017; the Import Permit Validation Service Dashboard was last updated on 6 April 2017. [91] At the time of writing, 10 of the 44 main performance indicators displayed on the dashboard front page had no data available. For example, the humanservices.gov.au dashboard does not have data for digital take-up and completion rate. The Dashboard information states that measurement of digital take-up of a redesigned web information service is still being developed, and that completion rate will be reported on in second quarter 2018 after additional polling is conducted (see https://dashboard.gov.au/dashboards/11-humanservices-gov-au). Some dashboards include a range of additional metrics: see the myGov dashboard which includes nine additional metrics, including linked member services (see https://dashboard.gov.au/dashboards/1-mygov). [92] Gov.au, Performance Dashboard: Performance Dashboard, https://dashboard.gov.au/dashboards/8-performance-dashboard-dashboard. [93] Telephone interview with James Horton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Datanomics Pty Ltd and member of the Open Government Partnership Forum, 27 September 2018. [94] PM&C, Australia's second Open Government National Action Plan 2018-20, https://ogpau.pmc.gov.au/australias-second-open-government-national-action-plan-2018-20. [95] Department of Social Services secretary Kathryn Campbell recently emphasised the need for co-design in the delivery of government services and its impact on policy development (see Stephen Easton, Frontline feedback is essential for policy, might have spared DHS from robodebt fury, The Mandarin, https://www.themandarin.com.au/99320-former-dhs-head-more-co-design-could-have-limited-robodebt-fury/?utm_campaign=TheJuice&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter). [96] Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee, Digital delivery of government services, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Finance_and_Public_Administration/digitaldelivery/Report.

Commitments

  1. Strengthen Anti-Corruption Framework

    AU0016, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  2. Political Donation Transparency

    AU0017, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  3. Data Sharing

    AU0018, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Improve Public Service Practice

    AU0019, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Access to Information

    AU0020, 2018, Access to Information

  6. Enhance Public Engagement Skills in the Public Service

    AU0021, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. Independent Review of the Australian Public Service

    AU0022, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Expand Open Contracting

    AU0023, 2018, Access to Information

  9. Whiste-Blower Protections

    AU0001, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  10. Beneficial Ownership Transparency

    AU0002, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  11. Extractive Industries Transparency

    AU0003, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  12. Combating Corporate Crime

    AU0004, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  13. Data Innovation

    AU0005, 2016, Access to Information

  14. Public Trust in Data Sharing

    AU0006, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Digitization of Government Services

    AU0007, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Information Management and Access Laws

    AU0008, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Freedom of Information

    AU0009, 2016, Access to Information

  18. Access to Government Data

    AU0010, 2016, Access to Information

  19. Electoral System and Political Parties

    AU0011, 2016, Political Integrity

  20. National Integrity Framework

    AU0012, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  21. Open Contracting

    AU0013, 2016, Access to Information

  22. OGP NAP

    AU0014, 2016, Public Participation

  23. Public Participation

    AU0015, 2016, Capacity Building

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