Annual Report 2015–16: 2. Report on program performance

Report on program performance for the DTO Annual Report 2015–16.

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Annual performance statements

Statement of compliance by the accountable authority

I, as the accountable authority of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO), present the 2015–16 annual performance statements of the DTO, as required under paragraph 39(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). In my opinion, these annual performance statements are based on properly maintained records, accurately reflect the performance of the entity, and comply with subsection 39(2) of the PGPA Act.

Paul Shetler
Chief Executive Officer


The DTO’s purpose is to facilitate the digital transformation of Australian Government services through innovative and collaborative development of service delivery policies and standards, platforms and joined-up services.

As the DTO did not have a corporate plan in 2015–16, the DTO’s purpose for the reporting period has been aligned with its portfolio outcome:

Outcome 1: To improve the user experience for all Australians accessing government information and services by leading the design, development and continual enhancement of whole-of-government service delivery policies and standards, platforms and joined-up services.


In its inaugural year, the DTO set an ambitious agenda to implement a new approach to service delivery and product development in the Australian Public Service (APS). To achieve its purpose, the DTO established deliverables that required key service delivery agencies to embrace the unknown and believe in the vision and capability of the DTO. The DTO found great allies across the APS who embraced the opportunity to transform government services through an agile approach that focused on user needs.

Digital Service Standard

Through consultation with consumers and stakeholders across government, the DTO published the Digital Service Standard on 6 May 2016. The standard ensures that all digital teams across the APS build government services that are simple, clear and fast for all users.

The standard is being applied to all public-facing Australian Government services and information sites administered by non-corporate Commonwealth entities. The standard applies to:

  • new and redesigned government services, informational and transactional
  • all high-volume transactional services (over 50,000 transactions a year), existing or being designed/redesigned.

The publishing of the standard created a need for expert advice and facilitation to enable agencies to transition services to the new standard. The DTO established two digital transformation hubs, one in Canberra and one in Sydney, which provide dedicated workspaces for redesigning key government services.

In addition, many agencies undertook the development and redesign of services in house. View the DTO’s assessments of such services measured against the standard.

Easier ways to access government services

In conjunction with releasing the Digital Service Standard, the DTO began developing five platforms to provide individuals and businesses with easier ways to access government services.


In March 2016, the DTO publicly released the alpha version of GOV.AU, a program of work with the vision of creating a place where users can find anything to do with the Australian Government without having to visit multiple websites to access key services. This was a major step in providing customers with a simplified and navigable mechanism for accessing the enormous volume of information and services that the government and APS provide in digital form. In conjunction with the development and release of GOV.AU, the DTO worked with entities across the APS to develop a content style guide to assist government as a whole to shape its voice, project consistency, convey trust and communicate clearly.

Digital Marketplace

As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the DTO has started development of the Digital Marketplace.

The aim of the Digital Marketplace is to transform the way government buyers procure digital and technology services and to make it easier for businesses—especially small and medium enterprises and start-ups—to deliver digital services to government.

The DTO took the first step towards establishing the Digital Marketplace in March 2016, by publishing a request for tender for digital specialists interested in providing services to government in an agile way.

This process established a panel that will be accessible through future iterations of the Digital Marketplace. This will connect federal, state and territory government buyers with a range of digital sellers pre-approved to bid for government work.

The discovery phase commenced in April 2016, and involved six weeks of user research with government buyers and ICT professionals. The team then entered the alpha phase and tested the prototype with users.

In 2015–16, the DTO developed the first version of to make delivering and operating digital services easier. The platform makes it easier for teams to release, monitor and grow user-facing digital services, by:

  • providing the infrastructure, monitoring and delivery tools required to release and operate user-facing web applications that meet user needs
  • making it simpler for teams to adopt best practices in releasing software
  • simplifying the security accreditation process for new services.

The platform has been tested with teams in the DTO delivery hubs. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is also using the platform.

Performance Dashboard

The DTO has created the Performance Dashboard, a platform to assist government entities to publicly measure the performance of services against the metrics defined by criterion 11 of the Digital Service Standard. The platform will increase the visibility of how well government services are performing and drive the continued improvement of services for users.

In May 2016, a working alpha version was released with performance data for myGov.

Digital authentication and verification

The DTO commenced the discovery phase of the digital authentication and verification program in January 2016. The program aims to provide a platform that will allow users to establish their identity once only when using different government services online.

In 2015–16, the DTO began building an alpha version of a service to verify the identity of individuals to a level that means they can access government services. To make it easier for government agencies to work together, the DTO also began development of the Trusted Digital Verification and Authentication Framework.

Exemplars and partnerships

In 2015–16, the DTO partnered with other agencies to deliver exemplar projects in its delivery hubs. The DTO has worked with:

  • the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to deliver a new online appointment booking service for citizenship applicants, and a digital permits service to simplify the import of goods requiring a permit.
  • the Department of Human Services to deliver a simpler Medicare enrolment process for newborn children (currently under trial), and improvements to the myGov user experience
  • the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to deliver a service to help users understand if their hobby is classified as a business
  • the ACT Government to deliver an appointment booking service for new parents with ACT Health
  • the Queensland Government on a pilot program of improvements to the senior citizens’ entitlements service.


Table 1 outlines the DTO’s performance against portfolio budget statements performance criteria.

The key performance indicators (KPIs) for 2015–16 were defined when the DTO commenced in the Communications portfolio, and retained when the DTO was transferred to the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio. The targets for 2015–16 were defined in the Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17.

Table 1 Performance against portfolio measures (KPIs)
KPI1 Target2 Action Comment
Improved levels of public satisfaction with the government services as measured by a public digital dashboard Positive change in stakeholder feedback

The DTO conducted research to establish a baseline for user satisfaction, and published a summary of the results.

The DTO has released the alpha of the Performance Dashboard, which reports on user satisfaction of government services.

The first tranche of service dashboards have been released.

Increased use of common ICT platforms across government, with a resulting decline in entities developing systems for their individual use Number of agencies using common ICT platforms has increased An Australian Government moratorium prevents Commonwealth entities from investing in new, or duplicating, service delivery capability. This helps to limit the fragmenting of users’ experiences across government.

The DTO started working with Commonwealth entities on the design, governance and funding of whole-of-government service delivery platforms. The DTO also made substantial progress on the delivery of a number of platforms, including for online publishing and digital authentication and verification. The DTO aims to deliver beta and live versions of those platforms in 2016–17.

Several agencies have adopted the DTO’s common ICT platforms, including the Performance Dashboard and

The DTO is working with the Department of Finance to ensure that whole-of-government service delivery platforms are considered by agencies in their development of business cases under the ICT Investment Approval Process.

Entities meeting the timeframes for digitising services specified in the Digital Transformation Plans 90% of entities are on schedule to meet the requirement of each Digital Transformation Plan The DTO worked with Commonwealth entities to develop Digital Transformation Plans for the key service agencies, including the departments of Human Services and Immigration and Border Protection, and the Australian Taxation Office. The publication of plans was delayed due to the election in July 2016.
Entities adhering to the Digital Service Standard when designing new services or redesigning existing services 80% of agencies adhering to the Digital Service Standard for new services Since the release of the Digital Service Standard in May 2016, many Commonwealth entities have undertaken redesign or development of services in line with the standard. They include the DTO and the departments of Industry, Innovation and Science; Immigration and Border Protection; and Human Services.

By 30 June 2016, the DTO had done nine assessments against six services (some services were assessed at both alpha and beta stages), and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science had assessed and reported on one service.

Change is occurring but it is too early to determine what proportion of agencies are adhering to the standard.
  1. Key performance indicators from the Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2015–16, p. 63.
  2. Targets from the Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, p. 134.


The DTO was established as an executive agency in the Communications portfolio in July 2015 and transferred to the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio in September 2015.

The DTO had a rapid start-up in its first 12 months. This involved recruiting a workforce, including a large number of contractors; establishing bases in Canberra and Sydney; developing organisational capacity and enabling services; and delivering whole-of-government priorities.

It is rare for a Commonwealth entity to be built from scratch rather than shaped from an amalgam of parts of other entities. As a brand-new organisation, the DTO did not have its own corporate memory and culture and did not inherit all the necessary corporate support systems and administrative processes.

The result was a split in key priorities, between the need to rapidly build technical capacity to meet the demands of the DTO’s mission, and the need to build the administrative, management and governance processes required by a government entity. This split limited the DTO’s ability to operate to its full potential.

Nonetheless, throughout 2015–16, the DTO built capacity across both technical and corporate areas. This has allowed the agency to set the foundations for key program and organisational capability that will be built on in the year ahead.

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Report on financial performance

The DTO recorded an operating surplus of $1.92 million for 2015–16. At 30 June 2016, the DTO had net equity of $5.4 million, representing $13.3 million of assets offset by $7.9 million of liabilities. The assets balance primarily relates to appropriation receivable of $9.3 million, while the majority of liabilities relate to suppliers payable of $5.9 million.

The DTO’s financial statements are presented in Part 4 of this annual report. The Australian National Audit Office issued an unmodified audit opinion of the statements on 16 September 2016. As 2015–16 was the first year of operation for the DTO, there are no comparative figures presented in the financial statements.

Tables 2 and 3 summarise the agency’s total resources and total expenses for the year.

Table 2 Resource statement
    Actual available appropriation
for 2015–16


Payments made


Remaining balance

(a) – (b)

Ordinary annual services1        
Departmental appropriation2   32,025 22,215 9,810
Total   32,025 22,215 9,810
Total ordinary annual services A 32,025 22,215  
Departmental non-operating        
Equity injections   2,226 2,226
Total   2,226 2,226
Total other services B 2,226  
Total available annual appropriations and payments   34,251 22,215  
Total resourcing        
A+B   34,251 22,215  
Total net resourcing for DTO   34,251 22,215  
  1. Appropriation Act (No.1) 2015–16 and Appropriation Act (No.3) 2015–16.
  2. Includes an amount of $1.500 million in 2015–16 for the Departmental Capital Budget. For accounting purposes this amount has been designated as ‘contribution by owners’.
Table 3 Expenses for Outcome 1
Outcome 1: To improve the user experience for all Australians accessing government information and services by leading the design, development and continual enhancement of whole-of-government service delivery policies and standards, platforms and joined-up services Budget1



Actual expenses2





(a) – (b)

Program 1.1: The Digital Transformation Office
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation2 30,525 28,013 2,512
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the budget year 498 848 350
Total for Program 1.1 31,023 28,861 2,862
Total expenses for Outcome 1 31,023 28,861 2,862
  2014–15 2015–16  
Average staffing level (number) 0 37  
  1. Full-year budget, including any subsequent adjustment made to the 2015–16 Budget at Additional Estimates.
  2. Departmental appropriation combines ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act Nos 1, 3 and 5) and retained revenue receipts under section 74 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
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