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Reviews show Australia curbed investment in nascent digital ID system

Reviews show Australia curbed investment in nascent digital ID system

The long-term funding for Australia’s national digital ID system is in doubt, with the release of gateway reviews from 2021 and 2022 showing that the business case funding ran out last year and was not replaced.

The reviews, spotted by InnovationAus, show that the traffic light-themed pace rating has slipped from green in 2021 to an even mix of green and amber in 2022. The Digital Transformation Agency has continued to work on the project, using sustainability funding that will run out next year, but has also “de-emphasised program management functions that were not funded during this phase.” Other agencies involved have continued to manage their own parts.

The final budget of the Liberal government led by Scott Morrison set aside AU$1.8 million (US$1.15 million) to continue advancing legislation, after allocating $161 million previously. The first budget of the new Labor government did not include any new funding for the digital ID program, according to InnovationAus.

Parts of the program were paused last year, and the 2022 review identifies a need for operating funds to keep the current services working.

Labor put $26.9 million into the program in May, when it funded the next year of operation for its online public service access program, MyGov.

The 2022 review also suggests that funding decisions could be tied to the user audit of MyGov, which was completed in January. No new funding announcement has followed so far.

Stakeholders told InnovationAus that continued delays risk the cooperation of private sector participants.

The next budget could therefore be critical to the long-term health of Australia’s national digital ID project. Between now and then, another gateway review will be started, and an overall digital and data strategy published.

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