Agencies to link in $25m australia.gov.au revamp

Finance Minister Lindsey Tanner yesterday announced that EDS had won an AU$25 million contract over four years to create australia.gov.au, a 'one-stop-shop' for all government information and services.

Finance Minister Lindsey Tanner yesterday announced that EDS had won an AU$25 million contract over four years to create australia.gov.au, a "one-stop-shop" for all government information and services.

Users will be able to create an account and personalise the site so they can easily access information or services from different government agencies. The portal will also be able to pre-populate forms with details from their profile, and allow users to complete the forms offline.

The link to different agency accounts from the australia.gov.au sign-in will be enabled by the Centrelink authentication HUB which was launched in March 2007. It provides single-sign-on to the Centrelink, Medicare Australia and Child Support Agency websites.

The hub will be scaled up so australia.gov.au can access information and services from the department of human services as well as other Australian government agencies, according to a spokesperson for the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).

Scaling the hub up will not be difficult, the spokesperson said: "The technical solutions are already established — it is about agencies connecting their existing online authentication processes to the hub."

Because the hub does not store information itself, instead it enables links between australia.gov.au and the individual agency sites, and it will protect users' privacy, according to a spokesperson for the Finance Minister.

"The project will not create a central citizen database, manage citizen identity or share personal information about citizens between government departments," the spokesperson said.

The authentication hub is based on the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 standard, the spokesperson continued. The end product and the hub link will have to comply with government security standards and be reviewed by the Defence Signals Directorate.

The new platform will be opt-in, and users will have complete control over the agencies they link to, according to the spokesperson.

The site is being revamped to address satisfaction issues with e-government, which were highlighted in the Australian's Use of and Satisfaction with e-Government Services survey conducted by the AGIMO, according to Tanner.

The new australia.gov.au site will be launched in the first quarter of 2009, with a second release scheduled for 2010.

The complete project to upgrade the australia.gov.au, including the EDS contract, has a budget of AU$42.4 million.