Helping the Australian Government to consider the right digital and ICT-enabled investments.

“The first thing that guides me is I believe very deeply that we should be using public money in the best way possible, efficiently, delivering outcomes.” Finance Minister Katy Gallagher on 11 May 2023, discussing the Budget with the Australian Financial Review.

This consideration is at the heart of the prioritisation state of the Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework (IOF) which sees the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) support the strongest digital and ICT proposals coming forward for consideration in the Budget process with weaker proposals referred back to agencies to reconsider.

Working closely with our partner agencies across the Commonwealth, the prioritisation state of the IOF provides a whole-of-government portfolio (or horizontal) view of expected digital investment proposals coming forward in the upcoming Budget. These investment proposals are considered within longer-term digital investment themes to give Government a fulsome view how investments in this budget will influence future budgets.

The DTA works in partnership with Commonwealth agencies on early details of proposals and planned investments. Our role is to assess them against government digital policies and broad digital objectives before they come forward for consideration by Ministers. Proposals are scored against strategic criteria and ranked by a DTA-led, cross-agency evaluator group ensuring diversity to build consensus and minimise unintended bias.

Overwhelmingly, agencies bring forward investment proposals that use public money to efficiently deliver outcomes for the community. Proposals that don’t meet the mark are simply not advanced until they have addressed the DTA’s suggested improvements.

Lucy Poole, General Manager for Digital Strategy, Architecture and Discovery Division at the DTA, said “The work in the prioritisation state of the IOF is shared across the DTA, such as when Budget proposals are contested, and assurance processes are applied to approved by Government. This information is fed back to improve the prioritisation process and future investment decisions. This is a key element that sets it apart from other Government processes.”

An overview of digital and ICT prioritisation

As advice to Government in the Budget-context, prioritisation reports are not made public. What we can say, in general terms, is that prioritisation of digital and ICT-enabled investments involves:

  • identifying the pipeline or themes of digital and ICT enabled investments over a 10-year horizon
  • considering digital investment proposals for each Budget and Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook individually and as a part of the collective investments
  • analysing the whole-of-government pipeline of investments to identify weaknesses and opportunities and improve the visibility, coordination, and value of future digital initiatives across government
  • assessing each major investment proposal against the Government’s digital objectives
  • delivering targeted advice taking into account digital and ICT proposals as a whole to support the Government to strategically plan what to invest in and when.

Outcomes for government include:

  • more informed decision making on digital and ICT proposals in each Budget
  • improved longer-term digital and ICT investment planning
  • understanding of priorities and capability opportunities to deliver on government digital and ICT objectives at a whole-of-government level

Lucy Poole, General Manager for Digital Strategy, Architecture and Discovery Division in the DTA, said “…prioritisation supports whole-of-government outcomes through a One APS approach to digital and ICT investment.”

Digital and ICT investment prioritisation criteria

Diagram showing the six prioritisation criteria currently used for proposal assessment<br />

Further information on prioritisation is set out here, including the 6 criteria that proposals are currently assessed against.