Refreshed Australian digital transformation strategy to focus on people and reusable tech

Digital Transformation Strategy 2.0 to cope with the aftermath of a pandemic.

The federal government has doubled down on its plan to use public sector staff and reusable technology to usher in the digital service of the future, with a refreshed digital transformation strategy vowing to "invest in people".

"In the next five years it is critical we continue to build on our progress and focus on developing the people capability essential to achieving digital transformation," the Digital Transformation Strategy 2.0 discussion paper [PDF] reads.

As detailed over the last fortnight during the Digital Transformation Agency's Digital Summit, the paper says the Australian government is "moving from siloed capabilities to a landscape of connected platforms and services".

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"The vision is to enable better design and investment for connected government services and capabilities for Australia through initiatives such as sourcing reforms and a whole-of-government architecture," it says, pointing to the new permissions capability architecture announced in October. "This will support the identification of re-use opportunities and encourage the adoption of common platforms, implementation approaches, standards and integrated, cross-agency services providing a strong foundation for transformation."

In developing the 2018 Digital Transformation Strategy, the DTA said it identified five key principles, the first was putting people's needs first, proving trustworthiness, partnering, innovating, and delivering value for money.

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The discussion paper asks if, in addition to the above, anything else should be focused on.

It says it is also welcoming feedback on the opportunities and areas of focus for data and digital initiatives that would "deliver the best outcomes in assisting with promoting jobs and return to growth" in a post-COVID world.

On the whole-of-government architecture that is intended to support the standardisation of technology approaches across government, the paper asks what opportunities exist for greater reuse of capabilities across government.

It's also seeking feedback on "best practice co-design approaches that can deliver ambitious outcomes at a whole-of-government or whole-of-nation level" as well as how to "further embed innovation to securely deliver faster, simpler, and tailored experiences for users".

"The government is interested in exploring how others have achieved true agility and what lessons can be taken from the private sector," it adds in a separate question.

"Government is keen to explore innovative models and approaches to stakeholder engagement that lead to better outcomes."

In announcing the DTA would refresh the strategy earlier this month, the minister in charge of digital transformation, Stuart Robert, said he asked the agency to take into account the "changed world that we find ourselves in now".

"If we're going to reap the benefits of digital transformation, for all Australians, we have to keep moving … we're going to have to innovate and we're going to have to get the private and the public sector together perhaps in ways they've not done before," he said.

The federal government in November 2018 unveiled the current digital transformation strategy, with former Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan at the time labelling the vision as "bold".

The 48-page strategy, also prepared by DTA, focused on bringing all services online by 2025 to attempt to make Australia be counted as one of the world's top three digital governments.

"Since the launch of the Digital Transformation Strategy in late 2018 we have made strong progress towards the vision of a government which is easy to deal with, informed by you and fit for the digital age," the 2020 discussion paper states.

"The refreshed strategy will work to overcome barriers to digital transformation, including in funding and business case processes."

Submissions close 18 December 2020.

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