Victorian auditor-general unhappy with government's digital strategy

Victorians want online state government services available on all digital devices, according to the auditor-general's report on service delivery, but the government is being vague about its strategy implementation.

The Victorian Auditor-General's Office (VAGO) released a report into the state government's digital readiness, finding that an effective, state-wide coordination does not yet exist.

The report, Delivering Services to Citizens and Consumers via Devices of Personal Choice: Phase 1 - Interim Report, allowed Victorian Auditor-General John Doyle to go over the IT strategies of the state government sectors as a whole with a fine-tooth comb. The audit examined strategies for delivering services online via digital devices; how these strategies were being implemented; and the extent to which services were already being provided.

The auditor-general's report claimed that about 52 percent of consumers are satisfied with government services online; however, there are increasing demands for government services to be delivered online and to be accessible anytime, anywhere, via any digital device.

Additionally, the report found that the disruption of the government's IT strategy has played a part in the ill monitoring of the industry.

"Since 2013, responsibility for the whole-of-public-sector ICT portfolio has transferred twice -- from the Department of Treasury and Finance to the former Department of State Development, Business, and Innovation, and, most recently, to the Department of Premier and Cabinet," the auditor-general said in his findings.

The audit found that monitoring and reporting of the digital strategy across government departments fell short of harnessing appropriate performance measures. This resulted in agencies not being held accountable for reporting progress of their respective implementation processes of the digital strategy, the audit said.

Whilst measures are in place to provide the state with a more digital government experience, the report said that "a coordinated and effective whole-of-public-sector approach to digital service delivery has yet to be achieved".

Doyle had promised taxpayers that despite the limited resources and outdated mandate he finds himself with, he will keep on top of the issue.

"My office will continue to apply greater scrutiny and analysis of ICT projects and initiatives through the conscientious lens of independent enquiry," he said.

Despite the disjointed reporting, the audit found that some departments and government agencies are pushing ahead with delivering services online via digital devices. The report stated that phase two of the report will examine this further.

Phase two of the VAGO report is expected to be made available mid 2016.

This VAGO report comes in the same week that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) released its study on the use of mobiles for voice, messaging, and internet access in Australia.

The ACMA report found that 21 percent of Australians are mobile-only internet users who rely on their mobile device -- whether a mobile phone, tablet, or mobile broadband connection -- to access the internet.