The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) is laying the final touches on its plan to make public services more mobile-friendly, according to Australian Government Chief Information Officer Glenn Archer.
The development and release of the Whole-of-Government Mobile Strategy is one of the immediate term action items listed in the Government’s ICT Strategy, released in October last year.
Archer told the Finance and Public Administration Legislation senate committee last week that the Chief Information Officers Committee (CIOC) would be the first advisory body to have their say on the document when it next sat at the end of this month. It will then be put before the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board (SIGB) for final approval during its next meeting on 22 March.
“There are two thrusts, kind of, within the mobile strategy,” he said. “One is to look at how the government can better deliver services to citizens and businesses through mobile-enabling its electronic systems. The second is really to look at how agencies can make better use of mobile technologies for the operations of agencies.”
“We have looked at a number of specific examples to identify evidence of good practice in terms of mobile enabled web sites to provide advice to agencies about what represents good practice in this area,” he added.
Successful mobile-enabled projects at the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Finance and Deregulation, and the Victorian Department of Health will almost certainly have attracted the attention of the team behind the strategy.
The DHS website, one of the most popular across Government, has now been optimised for a mobile phone. The Department is also progressively rolling out a suite of apps tailored to key segments of its customer base, such as students receiving study payments, Newstart recipients, and pensioners.
While they have produced a lot of public relations mileage for the DHS, Chief Information Officer Gary Sterrenberg has said in the past that they have not had a significant impact on the DHS ICT budget.
“From a technology side, we have been using the existing web based services, so the cost to produce the apps was quite low,” he told an October round of Senate Estimates.
However the top ranked government website across all Australian jurisdictions – registering 32.6 billion hits in 2011-12 – has not been optimised for mobile access.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) website is currently ranked by web data analysts Alexa as the 21stmost popular website in Australia – the top ranking for a government agency, and would almost certainly be a target for a Federal mobile strategy.
Other high-traffic Federal Government sites include:
- The Australian Taxation Office;
- The Department of Human Services;
- The Department of Immigration and Citizenship; and
- The Australian Government portal Australia.gov.au.
However the Department of Finance and Deregulation is more likely to take a carrot rather than a stick approach to encouraging agencies to participate in its mobile plan, added Archer, dispelling any expectations that the Strategy would feature mandated outcomes.
“We prefer to get people to do the right thing without setting rules,” he said. “Sometimes if we do not get actions we get a bit heavy handed in Finance”.
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