​Canberra to deliver digital transformation strategy in early 2019

The minister responsible for digital transformation has said it will allow the government to be held accountable for technology-based decisions.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan has promised the federal government's digital transformation strategy in the new year, labelling it a way for the Commonwealth to deliver tangible results and be held accountable.

"This strategy has three areas of focus: First our engagement and service delivery, to make government interactions and engagement easier for citizens and businesses; second, our decision-making to make smarter and more innovative decisions through the use of data and analytics; and thirdly by supporting structures and business models to make government fit for the challenges of the digital age by adopting new and emerging technologies and challenging the mindset and processes," Keenan told the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo on the Gold Coast on Monday morning.

"I'm going to make sure that this strategy, once released, delivers tangible results to the Australian people and we're going to do that by keeping ourselves accountable to it."

Keenan said the strategy will be accompanied by a roadmap, which will set out milestones, including when they will be reached, across all areas of focus.

"The strategy will continually be renewed and refreshed to make sure we account for new technology developments and the emergence of new trends," he continued.

In announcing the strategy earlier this year, Keenan said his goal was to become one of the top three digital governments in the world by 2025.

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"I'm very confident that the strategy will deliver on this," Keenan said on Monday. "As Minister for Digital Transformation, my focus is to make sure that we use technology effectively to have a positive impact on the lives of all Australians. This means ensuring that every agency, every department across government will deliver on these drivers."

The Minister used his keynote address to offer an example of where a technology-based government initiative has reaped rewards for the public -- the rollout of SmartGates at airports in Australia.

He said in 2016-17, SmartGates cleared more than 25 million people.

"I always like to use it as an example because when we decided to rollout SmartGates over a decade ago, there was enormous resistance amongst some of the public ... they were very concerned we were using biometric information to identify people and there was all sorts of catastrophic scenarios about what this might mean if we rolled out SmartGates," Keenan said.

"But of course what we've actually done by rolling out these SmartGates is instead of waiting half an hour or 45 minutes to go through the Australian border, you can now do so literally in seconds.

"It's a great example I think of how important it is to keep your nerve when you roll out new technology and we continue to make arguments about why we're doing it and what we hope to achieve from it

Keenan said he will continue to use SmartGates as an example of digital transformation in action.

"To achieve impact, we must overcome some of the challenges associated with maintaining peoples' trust by ensuring our data and digital reforms are designed from the ground up with privacy and security at their very core," he said.

"Dealing with complexity, which has the propensity to flourish and span multiple government agencies ... and ensuring our agencies have the structure and culture, business and funding models that can drive the results.

"Having the right foundations -- because we do need to do that if we're going to build future capability. My overall focus, as minister, since I got the job in December last year has been putting these building blocks in place."

Disclosure: Asha Barbaschow travelled to Gartner Symposium/ITxpo as a guest of Gartner.


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