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Australia maintains international e-government standing

by Justin Hendry •
Free resource

Topics: IT Services; Software; Telco; Digital Transformation; Fed.

Australia has retained its second place ranking on the United Nations’ latest E-Government Survey and is hot on the heels of the top scorer, thanks to improvements to its online service delivery result since 2014.

The ninth edition of the biennial e-government maturity Survey, which measures the progress of all 193 UN member states, ranks Australia behind the United Kingdom, who knocked long-time leader South Korea off its perch for the first time since 2010.

Australia has ranked in the Survey’s top ten for eight out of the last nine reports – 2014, 2010, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2001.

However, other international surveys have scored Australia less favourably in recent years. The 2015 Waseda-IAC International e-Government Rankings, for instance, places Australia seventh, behind the USA and Japan. Whereas, in the UN Survey, both countries fell just outside the top ten.

The UN rankings are based on the E-Government Development Index (EGDI) and its three components: the Online Service Index (OSI), Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII), and Human Capital Index.

Australia received a weighted EGDI score of 0.9143 for 2016 – a marginal improvement on its score in 2014, with the biggest improvement stemming from the OSI, which increased sharply from 0.9291 in 2014 to 0.9783. In contrast, the UK elevated its score from 0.8695 to 0.9193.

Despite suffering from a number of authentication and operability issues since its launch in 2013, Australia’s myGov platform was considered one of the more successful single sign-on portals among the top 50 countries.

“The Australian government has been one of the early adopters of an extensive one-stop national portal, offering citizens a secured single sign-on for access to various interactive services, both at the federal and local levels...”, states the Survey.

The creation of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) in July 2015 was also highlighted as having contributed to Australia’s ranking.

“The establishment of the Digital Transformation Office... signalled another milestone in advancing the government’s commitment to lead the transformation of services...”

Australia’s EGDI was only undercut by its TII score, which fell from 0.8041 in 2014 to 0.7646 in 2016. The UK’s TII score also fell from 0.8534 to 0.8177 during this period.

Long time coming

Despite having consistently ranked highly in the Survey, 2016 marks the first time the UK has taken out the top spot.

The UK’s slight lead over Australia mostly comes down to the significant improvements it has made to its online service delivery approach since 2014, which has seen its OSI increase from 0.8976 in 2014 to 1.0000.

Initiatives such as the GOV.UK portal, the ability to book driving tests online and self-assessment tax filing are identified in the Survey as having contributed to the ranking, as were other “efficiency gains which resulted in savings of £1.7bn in 2014 through its digital and technology transformation.”

However, with a number of projects focused on digital reform in the pipeline – many of which have been borrowed from the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS), and the DTO now pressed to accelerate the digitisation of government services in line with the Coalition’s Policy for Better and More Accessible Digital Services, the next iteration of the Survey in 2018 could see Australia dethrone the United Kingdom.

Digital 5

Apart from the UK, South Korea and New Zealand – which climbed one place to eighth – all other Digital 5 leaders fell outside the top ten.

Estonia, which is considered one of the world’s most ‘digitally native’ governments, has improved its score marginally – from 15th in 2014 to 13th in 2016, while Israel has fallen three place to 20th.

The Digital 5 was formed by the UK in December 2014 to provide a “focused forum” that shares best practices, identifies how its members can improve digital services, collaborates on common projects, and supports each of the member’s growing digital economies.

Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and France also ranked in the top ten.

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