​Australian govt gives startups access to tech with digital marketplace

The federal government has launched the digital marketplace to give startups access to government's AU$5 billion annual spend on IT projects.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The federal government has launched the first stage of an online digital marketplace to give startups the opportunity to access an online catalogue of services, people, and technology that could assist them with service transformation.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said the marketplace has been developed to give smaller businesses access to government's AU$5 billion annual spend on IT projects.

"We're keen to open this up to smaller and newly-established businesses who have traditionally found it too big a burden to prove their credentials to government. There have been too many hoops to jump through, so they simply haven't bothered to apply for government ICT work," he said.

"That's a lost opportunity, because we know lots of businesses are on the cutting edge of digital innovation and can provide exciting solutions for governments to deliver better services at a lower cost."

The launch of the marketplace, which is set to go live in April 2016 with a public beta version to be launched at the end of the year, has been led by the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) and forms part of the government's AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda that was released at the end of last year.

In conjunction to the launch, the DTO has also been working on establishing a series of targeted panels of providers, with the first being a digital specialists' panel. Professionals in the field and interested businesses are being encouraged by the government to apply to be part of the panel through the government's tender website, Austender.

Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said the panels will help make it easier for governments to access digital expertise to supplement their in-house teams.

In addition, the government announced it will replace multiple websites with a single domain, Gov.au, to simplify government services online that are often complex, such as processes around starting a business, moving homes, or travelling overseas.

While only a prototype version of the website has been designed, Taylor said the aim of delivering Gov.au is to integrate multiple government services together to improve the uptake of government services and user experience.

"The Australian government currently operates more than 1,000 websites, with information often duplicated and out of date. It can be incredibly frustrating to find your way within and across sites, and many of us know this from personal experience," he said.

A public beta version of the website will be available late 2016.

The alpha launch of Gov.au follows on from remarks previously made by DTO CEO Paul Shetler, who said last August that it is the agency's goal to simplify people's access to the government.

"We can provide things to them in a way such that they don't need to worry about that this coming from the state, is this coming from that city, or that department or agency, because sometimes when people have to get things done, like having a baby or are starting a business, they're doing things across those different boundaries," he said.

Shelter reiterated the DTO's goals in September, saying unifying services cannot only occur via an online portal, but also across more accessible communications channels.

The DTO -- which received a AU$245 million boost from the 2015 federal budget -- was launched last March, primarily tasked with creating a single online myGov portal for dozens of government-related services.

The next task for the DTO over the coming months, according to the government, will be to look at obstacles that block IT suppliers from providing digital products and services to government.

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