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Australian government digital transformation plan light on ID

Government to make entire public service available on any device in people, business-focused overhaul
Australian government digital transformation plan light on ID

Australia has formally announced an ambitious plan to make the entire Australian Public Service available online in a way that is accessible to every single Australian by 2025 in its bid to become one of the top three digitally-enabled governments in the world. The as-yet vague outline appears to follow Estonia in terms of provision and Denmark for its perceived application of AI in processing services.

The Digital Transformation Agency has posted its strategy outline, promotional video and published a 25-page top level document, the Digital Government Strategy with its aims and ambitions. Though as a public-facing introduction, there is little in the way of a technical plan, even with the “Architecture alignment” section.

The documentation also does not mention how users would verify or authenticate themselves for remote service access. The only mention of identity is in the diagram of how the new strategy interacts with others such as the Digital Economy Strategy and National Data Security Action Plan. The National Identity Security Strategy and Trusted Digital Identity Framework are the only strategies other than the Data Interoperability Maturity Model which sit apart from the fifteen or so other strategies.

The Digital Transformation Agency, which is undergoing a budget and staff cut, is keen to stress that the Strategy is much more than a “refresh” of the 2018 Digital Transformation Strategy. The reports suggests that the agency considers Estonia and Denmark as making up the rest of the global top three for digital governance.

Again, there is a top-level statement that, “Australians in regional and remote areas will benefit from government delivering digital services and Government will continue to make services available to those who do not have access to digital technology.” The approach remains to be seen.

One benefit of making all government services available digitally might be an overhaul of how departments interact. “A consistent approach to digital service design and delivery will allow us to easily collaborate across government, share and process data, and deliver connected services,” states the report.

Transparency is part of the plan for the country’s digital identity system that its Digital Transformation Agency is also establishing, within its Trusted Digital Identity Framework. The ID is optional for citizens and Australia does not have a traditional national identity scheme. The country is set to establish an oversight body for digital identity via the Trusted Digital Identity Bill.

There is a great deal of activity around the development of digital ID and digital wallets to hold it, including biometric access. It is not yet clear how this might integrate with the Digital Government Strategy.

Voting is mandatory in Australia and the federal government is considering making the presentation of ID at polling stations mandatory too. The new Digital Government Strategy does not mention how digitized elections may become and how this might become part of the new services.

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