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Turnbull announces UK-style Digital Transformation Office

by Chris Huckstepp •
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Malcolm Turnbull’s remarks at the 2014 CeBIT GovInnovate conference on the need for a bigger start-up culture within the Australian Public Service have been acted upon. The Minister for Communications and Prime Minister Tony Abbott have issued a joint statement announcing the establishment of a Digital Transformation Office (DTO) within the Department of Communications.

The DTO will work across government and focus on the “end-user” by investigating ways to ensure that government services are “available anytime, anywhere,” according to the media release.

“Interacting with government should be as easy as Internet banking or ordering a taxi through an app.”

The UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) could provide indications about the type of outfit Turnbull is suggesting. The GDS’ stated intent is to “help government make digital services and information simpler, clearer and faster.” They were responsible for the development of Gov.UK which has streamlined access points to Government, amalgamating 392 websites into one. Gov.UK aims to facilitate a majority of the 1.43 billion transactions with government per year, from scheduling prison visits to student finance and job searches.

An initial challenge for the DTO is to create a single “digital identity” for citizens and to streamline the portals through which services are accessed.

“By designing digital services that are consistent and simple to use, fewer people will need to come into a shopfront or make a phone call.”

According to the media release the DTO will collaborate with other Australian jurisdictions, “including ways to make better use of myGov.”

As reported by Government News, Turnbull told an industry breakfast in September 2014 that “we want everybody to have access to one, single digital mailbox which we will make available to all governments for free – I mean state and local – so that there is greater and greater incentive for people to interact with government digitally.”

The move should hasten the Government’s progress towards achieving the goals set in its eGovernment Policy, including that all correspondence, documents and forms will be available in digital form as well as hard-copy, and that all interactions that occur more than 50,000 times per year are to be put online, by 2017.

myGov has around 5 million registered users according to Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications.

Staff at the DTO will include developers, designers, researchers and content specialists, according to the statement.  

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