Delivering a single vision for digital

Our blog series continues to explore the Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework (IOF). Today’s entry looks at the Strategic Planning state, the vision it lays out and how agencies can align their investments to deliver on the Government’s goals.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is mandated to provide leadership on whole-of-government ICT and digital investment. We’re uniquely positioned within the Finance portfolio to provide advice on digital opportunities and support the management of these investments. We do this through the Investment Oversight Framework.

Strategic Planning is the first of the IOF’s six states and articulates the vision for Government Digital and ICT. This ensures that agencies approach their investments and progress the Government’s objectives in a cohesive way.

Importantly, this state has no defined edges. Planning for a digital or ICT initiative can start months or even years before it’s brought forward for a decision, as long as it’s informed by the whole-of-government strategies defined in this state.

One of the most important will soon be the Data and Digital Government Strategy.

Data and digital, finally together

The DTA are working with the Department of Finance to release the Australian Government’s first ever Data and Digital Government Strategy. The initial Strategy was published in May 2023 for consultation and feedback, with the final version set for release by the end of the year.

It’s the first time data and digital strategies have been brought together, a recognition of their inseparable connection and enabling potential. Five missions steer agencies on how to align their data and digital investments to deliver simple, seamless and interconnected Government services.

An agency’s proposal must support these outcomes when they bring it forward for a decision. The DTA can support agencies by identifying capability gaps and opportunities to reuse solutions and platforms across the government ecosystem.

Lauren Mills, DTA Branch Manager for Strategic Planning, said ‘the Strategic Planning state of the IOF is vital in bringing agencies together to achieve a common vision for how Government delivers its digital initiatives for people and businesses.’

Strategy never stops

While Strategic Planning is its own state, the Data and Digital Government Strategy underpins works at every state of the IOF.

For example, at the second state of Prioritisation, new initiatives will be assessed against the Strategy’s commitment to people and business as the centre of digital transformation. An agency might want to consider how well their proposal serves this outcome and performs on the criteria of ‘ease of individuals’ engagement with Government’ and ‘efficiency for business, industry and other organisations’.

In the third ‘Contestability’ state, proposals are tested against digital policies that speak to the strategy’s intent, such as the Digital Service Standard’s reinforcement of the Government’s commitment to digital inclusion and accessibility.

This flow of strategic intent continues all the way through the Assurance, Sourcing and Operation states.

Taking in the landscape

Of course, the Data and Digital Government Strategy is not the only whole-of-government initiative that impacts how agencies might plan their investments.

The Australian Government has committed to the APS Reform agenda, the Cyber Security Strategy 2023-30 and the review of the Privacy Act 1988. These, amongst other reviews and a tightening fiscal environment, all shape the Commonwealth’s priorities and investments in data and digital.

The DTA helps agencies navigate this landscape when planning and preparing to bring forward their investment proposals.

A living plan to bring strategy to life

A strategy is only as good as its implementation. Agencies shouldn’t feel they have to interpret the Data and Digital Government Strategy on their own.

When the final strategy is released by the end of 2023, it will be accompanied by an implementation plan. This is being produced by the DTA and the Department of Finance to guide agencies on how their plans and investments can deliver on the Strategy’s vision.

It will be an iterative document, updated to support budget cycles, providing up-to-date clarity, transparency and success stories on how the Australian Government is delivering upon the Strategy’s outcomes.

‘Tracking our achievements against a set of published criteria on an annual or bi-annual basis will provide us with more clarity on proposals that need to be prioritised to fill gaps where strategic outcomes are being under serviced,’ said Lauren Mills.

In summary

  • ‘Strategic Planning’ can begin as early as an agency wishes to.
  • It ensures planned initiatives align with Government strategies from the start.
  • While not the only strategy or agenda, the Data and Digital Government Strategy will influence each state of the IOF.
  • The implementation plan will provide practical, frequently updated guidance and performance metrics to agencies.
  • With its whole-of-government perspective, the DTA can support agencies to understand and embed strategic thinking early and often.