Harnessing the Wave: Insightful Data Collection in Digital and ICT Government Expenditure – the Operations state.

Over recent months, we have taken a close look at each of the six states of the Commonwealth Digital Investment Oversight Framework (IOF). Our final blog in the series focuses on the Operate state (six).

In today’s data-driven world, the public sector is seeing a dramatic shift towards a more strategic and informed approach to expenditure, especially in the Digital. With over $13.65B in invested in digital across Non-Corporate Commonwealth Entities in the Australian Federal Government, the spotlight on responsible and effective spending has never been more focused.

Our basis for effective decision making is a process we refer to as "Wave", an approach to data collection that creates a foundation for insight, particularly in the Operations state of the IOF. By understanding and utilising Wave, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) provides advice to government to optimise value from Digital.

The Wave Process: Capturing the Data

The Wave data collection process takes input directly from agencies - all NCCEs in the Commonwealth – through two sets of collections, “Business as Usual” (BAU) and Projects.

The BAU collection gives the DTA an understanding of the expenditure across agencies capturing insights into Digital resourcing, planned digital expenditure for the financial year, risk and opportunity identification around Emerging Technology.

Our Project collection gives insight on performance of digital initiatives over the value of $10m and helps us to understand the benefits, delivery approach, alignment to Government outcomes, and the scope of the project. This data helps to understand lead and lag indicators of project success and ultimately provide insights back to other states within the IOF. Ideally, identifying projects at risk earlier so that interventions can be made to increase likelihood of delivery success before the issues escalate further.

Operations: Insight to Action

Insights from Wave collection process assists the government to make informed decisions on where to strategically allocate resources and identify areas that need improvement. It is also at this stage where trends, patterns, and correlations are identified, leading to strategic decisions that assure millions, if not billions, of dollars.

The collection process helps to identify new and emerging technologies that the Australian Government Architecture may need to develop around support, guidance or guardrails to ensure best success for technology implementation across the Commonwealth. It identifies shared capabilities – or candidates to become shared – to better reuse our existing investments, leading to an overall reduction in duplication of digital capabilities.

Skills Gap: The Demand for Cybersecurity and Automation Testers

One stream of information collected as a part of BAU or Agency Profiling is an understanding of the shortages that government is facing with digital skills and capabilities.

A significant shortage in skills and capability across the Australian Public Sector is felt most strongly in Cyber Security and Automation Testers. As agencies accelerate digital service delivery, it makes sense that the lifecycle of a digital service has increased demand in these specialties – with Cybersecurity designing, protecting, and securing our systems; and Automation testers ensuring that our services are well designed, secure and error free during development.

Our data collection at the end of 2022 identified that 82% (CyberSecurity) and 70% (Automation Testers) of agencies identified these skills as most in demand. We can share this information with our partners like the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) and the Digital Profession, to further shape and influence the skills that are targeted across Australia. The key to addressing this skills gap lies in strategic workforce planning, partnerships with educational institutions, and an increased focus on staff development and training.

Our data analysts play an indispensable role in transforming raw data into insightful narratives. They are the ones who can decode the language of data and tell its story, helping agencies to make more informed decisions about their digital spending.

The Path Ahead

Governments are transforming with data and digital across the globe. Australian Government has a lot at stake  with over $13.65B. The Operations state of the IOF serves to help guide this transformation.

Andrew Morrison, Chief Technology Officer at the DTA said, “by capturing and understanding agency digital operations data, and using those insights to make strategic decisions, our government can ensure that their digital spending is more effective, efficient, and value driven.”

As we move forward, the emphasis on data-driven decision-making, identifying potential for reuse, and the pressing need to fill critical roles will continue to be the key to optimizing expenditure in digital. Through our data collection and insights generation we are shaping a future where governmental operations are transparent, accountable, and driven by insights, ensuring every dollar spent is a dollar well spent.