Abetz to reshape e-government agenda

Special Minister of State Eric Abetz is expected to announce a renewed push to improve e-government services by the end of the year.Abetz foreshadowed the new policy in a release announcing his keynote speech to an e-government conference in Japan on Thursday.

Special Minister of State Eric Abetz is expected to announce a renewed push to improve e-government services by the end of the year.

Abetz foreshadowed the new policy in a release announcing his keynote speech to an e-government conference in Japan on Thursday.

"In the coming months I will unveil the government's bold new e-government agenda, and I hope to be able to use some of the information gathered from meetings in Japan to inform this strategy," he said.

Abetz has been proactive on the policy front in recent times, issuing a number of guides for agencies. The most recent, A Guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies, positioned open source software as a genuine option in government procurement.

The last policy on e-government (Better Services, Better Government) came in 2002. Government IT was then coordinated by the now-defunct National Office for the Information Economy, and overseen by Senator Richard Alston. The new statement is expected to stress a whole-of-government approach to online service delivery.

A source familiar with the plans told ZDNet Australia&nbsp there would be two main themes to the statement: improving government service delivery to citizens, and improving government operations. A number of new guides, frameworks and goals will accompany the statement, the source said.

The flagged statement follows an ad-hoc approach by the public sector to the first e-government policy. As a result, there would be a focus on cohesive approaches to online service delivery and collaborative efforts between agencies, the source said.

The new policy could have implications for some of Australia's largest government departments. The Department of Human Services, which includes customer-facing agencies such as Centrelink, could be one of those most affected. Responsible for six service delivery agencies, the Department is one of the largest providers of online services.

The whole-of-government push follows the recent introduction of the australia.gov.au domain. The portal, which groups the services of a number of government departments, is expected to be a reference point for e-government coordination.

Also a factor behind the upcoming statement is the recent report, Australians' use of and satisfaction with e-government services, produced for the Australian Government Information Management Office. The report included the conclusion that agencies needed to better understand operations across the three levels of government in order to design services to meet future demands.

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