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New DHS ICT plan, WofG digital services platform en route

by Justin Hendry •
Free resource

Topics: IT Services; Software; Hardware; ICT Strategy; Digital Transformation; Fed.

A Whole-of-Government (WofG) digital services platform will be the centrepiece of a new four-year technology plan to be released by the Department of Human Services next month.

Speaking at the 2016 CeBit Conference in early May 2016, DHS Chief Technology Officer Charles McHardie said that the department wanted its new technology plan to look very different to its last.

“We wanted to hang our hats on a core tenet, something that people can grab hold of and gravitate towards”, he said.

“So we’re focused on building a digital services platform, and we see it as almost a WofG services platform for customer centric interactions.”

When approached for comment by Intermedium, a spokesperson said that DHS was creating a 2016-2020 Technology Plan, but would not confirm whether it was developing a new or existing digital services platform.

“Following the successful delivery of the DHS Technology Plan 2012-2016, the department is developing the DHS Technology Plan 2016-2020 which will be published internally in July. A public version will also be published in July.”

The department’s current digital services platform, myGov, received $45.1 million in the 2016-17 Budget to support the “core operational component” of the service over four years. A further $5.4 million has been allocated to modernise myGov over two years in consultation with the Digital Transformation Office (DTO), the Department of the Treasury, and other staff from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

According to the DHS website, “implementation of the myGov improvement work has commenced and will end on 30 June 2017”.

The expansion of the existing platform, or development of an entirely new platform, matches the vision put forward by then-Minister for Human Services Stuart Roberts, who told Intermedium in December 2015 that significant digital transformation was on its way at the department. This transformation will happen in parallel with the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) Programme.

Roberts was also a strong proponent of myGov continuing to develop as the single platform for digital citizen accounts, with the WPIT Programme providing the back end for core citizen transactions, and of a single payment system across government.   

There was some suggestion earlier this year that myGov would be moved within the purview of the DTO, but this appears unlikely given DHS’s suitability as a host agency. DHS has one of the largest in-house ICT capabilities within the APS, and is also the second most active government buyer of ICT after the Department of Defence, contracting over $200 million each year.

McHardie considers DHS to be the foremost agency for outward interaction with the Australian public, and therefore well positioned to deliver the platform.

“If you look across the Federal Government agencies, the one department that does the majority or the largest amount of interaction with the Australian public is DHS”, he said.

“We see ourselves as the key customer service provider to the citizen.”

McHardie expects DHS to work closely with its large strategic partners to implement the Technology Plan, including IBM, SAP, Telstra, and Microsoft.

DHS signed a $484.2 million contract with IBM to continue support for its mainframe in March 2016, touted by Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge as an “investment in better IT services for the millions of Australians that use our online services for a wide variety of payments”.

Update: A DHS spokesperson told Intermedium on 13 September 2016 that the plan is still yet to be published.

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