Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework

Helping the Australian Government to make the right digital and ICT-enabled investments, at the right time and in the right way.


The 2023-24 Budget is a timely reminder of how important technology is in today’s world - for people, businesses and governments.

The release of Budget Paper No. 4 shows how Government is investing in technology, with more than $2 billion in data, digital and ICT solutions. There are new digital solutions to improve service delivery, updates to modernise outdated legacy platforms and IT systems, as well as vital work to ensure critical data and digital investment is properly scoped and provides maximum value for the taxpayer.

The DTA’s mandate to advise on digital investment and our positioning as an agency within the Finance portfolio means we are uniquely positioned to provide Government with strategic advice on digital opportunities and support the Government to manage digital and ICT-enabled investments using the Commonwealth Digital Investment Oversight Framework (IOF). The IOF consists of six states, from strategic planning and prioritisation, through to procurement of digital solutions, initiative delivery and the realisation of planned benefits.

Over the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at each the six states. With the 2023-24 Budget delivered this week, we will first focus on the third State, Contestability.

State 3 of the Commonwealth Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework – Contestability

Here in the Investment Advice and Contestability Branch at the DTA, we assess all digital and ICT initiatives before they’re brought forward for Government consideration.

“We work with agencies to ensure that digital initiatives are robust and align with Commonwealth digital and ICT polices, standards and designs. This means that we work with agencies from the initial development all the way through to lodging their submission for consideration” said Mr Wayne Poels, General Manager Digital Investment Advice and Sourcing Division.  

The COVID-19 pandemic, saw a rapid increase in the demand for government services to be delivered online, resulting in significantly increased investment in Commonwealth digital and ICT initiatives.

What we do

When agencies bring forward an initiative, there are two assessments staff in the Contestability team work with agencies on. The first is to determine if an initiative is subject to the IOF. If it is, an agency is asked to complete the Digital Capability Assessment process that looks at the proposed investment’s alignment with several Commonwealth digital and ICT policies and standards—the Digital Service Standard, the Digital and ICT Reuse Policy, the Digital Sourcing Framework, the Secure Cloud Strategy, the Hosting Certification Framework, the Cyber Security Guidelines (published by the Australian Cyber Security Centre), and the Assurance Framework. We work to provide prompt and clear advice to enable agencies to achieve alignment with these requirements before proposals with digital elements are considered by the Expenditure Review Committee.

The second assessment is for investments that are meet high cost and high-risk thresholds under the ICT Investment Approval Process. This generally requires agencies to bring forward an initial business case to Cabinet to test the Government’s response to the idea and provide feasible options, including the use of digital technologies. At a subsequent point, the agency will bring forward a much more detailed business case (second pass) on the option agreed in the first pass business case. Mr Wayne Poels said, “while this holistic assessment requires a significant investment of time from agencies and investment advisers within the DTA, it helps ensure that the right digital services are being delivered in the right way to people and businesses in Australia. Our role in supporting agencies at this stage is an important contribution towards project delivery success.”

What a Federal Budget looks like for digital proposals

Budget time is always busy for us. Over 300 digital and ICT proposals have been assessed since the establishment of the IOF, with over 90 coming forward in the 2023-24 budget context with a combined value of over $2 billion This included feedback to agencies on 23 business cases under the ICT Investment Approval Process in the 2023-24 budget process.

“Our primary focus is on providing the best advice to Government regarding public sector digital investment and the best service that we can to each initiative that comes across our desk”, said Mr Simon Quarrell, Investment Advice and Contestability Branch Manager, “we want agencies to feel that they are supported through the life cycle of their initiative and that there’s never a moment too early to engage with us.”

Our staff are available to answer any questions or concerns that agencies might have through the budget process. In a recent survey conducted, 89 per cent of agencies rated their communication and engagement with the DTA as part of contestability as positive. For the 2023-24 Budget, approximately 80 per cent of agency survey respondents indicated that the quality of their proposal was strengthened through the guidance and engagement provided by the DTA. 

Of course, with one budget completed, the next begins. The Contestability team is quickly turning its attention to refining the way it works and reaching out across government to understand new ideas and digital proposals that will come forward in the future. In closing, Mr Quarrell invited agencies to start the process of engaging with the DTA on potential digital proposals. “If you’re a policy officer preparing an initiative that includes digital or ICT elements or a Chief Information Officer thinking longer term about your agencies technology needs, the DTA wants to hear from you. Please reach out to We look forward to working with you.”

Visit the Contestability page on our website for more information.

Next up in our IOF blog series, we will look at the second state – Prioritisation.