Government digital transformation to deliver AU$20.5b in cost savings: Report

A Deloitte report has acknowledged the work of the federal government's Digital Transformation Office will provide the government and citizens with huge cost savings over the next 10 years.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has highlighted in order for Australia to remain a prosperous, first world, social welfare economy, the only solution is to enhance the country's productivity levels.

As part of the launch of the newest Deloitte Access Economics report, commissioned by Adobe -- Digital Government Transformation: Unlocking the Benefits of Digital Customer Transactions -- Turnbull said on Monday that the country needs a new era of reform, which will be "critically dependent on a more innovative culture and a wider usage of digital platforms".

He highlighted the launch of the government's Digital Transformation Office, which was provided with AU$254.7 million as part of this year's Budget, will help pave way for the government to improve its overall productivity levels. The office will be responsible for the overall implementation of the digital strategy, and will redesign services to be digital by default.

Turnbull added that one part of the DTO's Digital Transformation Agenda is the myGov portal, which he said has made a "fair bit of progress", but still requires more work, particularly to get the state and local government on board.

"Imagine if you were operating a business and you could transact with your local government about garbage collection; the state government about payroll tax; and federal government with about Centrelink, the ATO, and Medicare. Imagine you could access all of that online," he said.

The Deloitte report highlighted that Australians conduct 800 million transactions at federal or state government level every year, including completing tax returns, registering for or renewing passports or drivers licences, and receiving benefits payments.

However, 40 percent of these transactions are still completed through traditional channels, such as by phone, mail, or in person. But Adobe Asia Pacific president Paul Robson has said that if this percentage could be reduced to 20 percent over a 10-year period, it could deliver efficiency benefits to both citizens and government valued at AU$26.6 billion, achieved at a cost of around AU$6.1 billion. This would equate to net benefits of AU$20.5 billion, or around AU$2,000 per Australian household.

An area in which the report identified where cost savings could be made by the government included redeploying 50,000 staff, which currently hold traditional jobs such as data entry and mail sorting. Another potential cost saving area is eliminating the need for people to complete forms online and offline, and answer a multitude of questions in order to work out whether they are eligible for government benefits.

Deloitte partner and research author John O'Mahony pointed out the report showed there are quantifiable benefits for the government.

"Australia is doing well in some areas; it's patchy in some other areas. Overall we estimate over 60 percent of government transaction services are already digital. That leaves about 40 percent of transactions which are still done through traditional methods either via mail, in person, or by telephone. But that overstates some of the progress that has already been made," he said.

Turnbull said while the potential savings will be a real thrill, the net benefit of the government setting a digital example will be that businesses and citizens will eventually be able to copy it in their own lives.

"People will see the power of the government's digital engagement, and they will then emulate and copy it in their own lives and in their own work," he said.

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