DTA gets ball rolling on upgrading Australia's .gov.au administration service

The Digital Transformation Agency is fixing how .gov.au domains are administered and maintained.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) was last year charged with responsibility over the administration of Commonwealth's second level domain (2LD), .gov.au.

Domain names in Australia are mostly registered at the third level -- yourname.com.au -- with 2LDs comprising org.au, com.au, net.au, id.au, and asn.au open address; a closed csiro.au, edu.au, and gov.au address; the legacy conf.au address; and restricted local community group addresses such as act.au, nsw.au, and wa.au.

The .gov.au 2LD is usually reserved for the federal government and its initiatives. As the .gov.au registrar, DTA is responsible for approving and managing .gov.au domain names. Once approved, the .gov.au domain name data is passed to the Top Level Domain (TLD) .au registry, which maintains a master list of gov.au domain names, used to point internet users to the right websites when they search for a domain name.

Previously, domainname.gov.au was a self-service portal which included a payment service.

"The portal was a proprietary product, meaning we had limited control over it and could not build on it to improve the service. The portal was retired in early 2018 with the temporary solution that the DTA will pay for and provide manual processing for all .gov.au domains," the DTA explained in a blog post.

The DTA's mandate includes: Domain management, including changing name servers; assessing Australian government and state and territory government domain name applications against the policies, and registering once approved; support for the domainname.gov.au website; and 24-hour emergency support.

The federal government's agile department is currently building a "user-centred service" for 2LD administration, sending it into Alpha for testing and feedback.

After probing foreign solutions, the DTA also consulted with users, who told them they wanted secure and personalised access, renewals to be available and clear, a simple payment system and an easy way to view and manage their account, to enter information once, and the ability to opt-out of DTA DNS management.

"The next stage is Alpha, where we test our hypotheses by building and testing prototypes. The results of these tests will determine our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for Beta. We're looking forward to sharing our findings with you at the end of Alpha," the DTA wrote.

The .au Domain Administration (auDA) last year opened discussions on the current structure of domain name registration in Australia, seeking specifically feedback on the current .au structure, reserved names, eligibility and allocation rules, and domain name licence conditions.

"We might not think about it often, but the .au domain range has become a vital piece of national infrastructure," auDA Policy Review Panel chair John Swinson said at the time.

"The .au domain increases trust, which can in turn facilitate positive economic and community activity. When internet users both here and overseas see the .au domain they associate it with Australia's secure and stable environment."

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