Digital Service Platforms Strategy

This strategy is intended to provide guidance for Australian Government departments and agencies who create or manage digital service platforms. 

Foreword

Australia has one of the world’s most advanced public sectors with the Commonwealth Government introducing a broad range of digital initiatives over the past decade.

These government initiatives have already seen the development of easy-to-use digital services that facilitate better policy decisions and faster, cheaper delivery. The global UN E-Government Survey 2018 ranks Australia No.2 in the world behind Denmark in e-government performance and effective delivery of public services.

Our vision is to make it simple and fast to get things done with government, through any channel. Whole-of-government digital service platforms are critical to realising this vision. They provide common business capabilities, such as making a payment or updating your details, which can be utilised by people and businesses.

Providing common, reusable business capabilities through digital service platforms benefits:

  • people and businesses – through convenient, secure and reliable access to government services through any channel
  • government at all levels – through ‘reusable building blocks’ that are quick and easy to adopt, removing the need for agencies to design, build, test, and operate these capabilities themselves

At a whole-of-government level, digital service platforms will:

  • encourage innovation and interoperability where both the government and market can collaborate to drive innovation 
  • build public trust and confidence in government’s handling of sensitive and personal data 
  • support the integrity of the government ecosystem and services offered by government
  • increase government’s agility and responsiveness to meet changing circumstances and expectations
  • increase the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery by shifting service delivery to faster and better digital channels and removing duplicated effort across government

The Whole-of-government Digital Service Platforms Strategy outlines how we will achieve the benefits of reusable platforms. It is also supported by the digital service platforms operating model, a separate document that provides guidance on how to operationalise the Strategy. Contact platforms@dta.gov.au for a copy of of the guidance document. In addition, detailed documents will be developed to provide further guidance on building and adopting digital service platforms. 

Overview

The Australian Digital Transformation Strategy outlines our vision to be a world leading digital government for the benefit of all Australians.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has developed the Whole-of-government Digital Service Platforms Strategy (the Strategy) to help enable the Digital Transformation Strategy. The Strategy is intended to provide guidance for Commonwealth Government departments and agencies involved in digital service platforms. The Strategy applies to whole-of-government digital service platforms developed by the Commonwealth Government, but state, territory and local governments may choose to follow the Strategy if they wish.

Developing the strategy

We explored the current strategic context including examples from other governments around the world, our current Australian government context and constraints, as well as other related strategies. We developed specific vision, goals and principles for digital platforms to ensure these platforms support the broader Digital Transformation Strategy. The Strategy is supported by the  Digital Platforms Operating Model which provides the leading practice for the organisation, capabilities and processes, skills and culture, technology and data applicable to digital platforms. Contact platforms@dta.gov.au for a copy of Digital Platforms Operating Model. In addition, it outlines the governance and performance frameworks, and funding considerations required to enable whole-of-government collaboration and outcomes.

A diagram indicating the relationships between the strategic context, the digital platforms vision and the six keys to success.

Figure 1: the Digital Platforms Strategy Framework. A text description is also available.

Whole-of-government digital platforms

A whole-of-government (WofG) approach to developing government services is needed to ensure that these services are easily accessible, convenient and meet user needs. This approach will enhance the value and experience delivered to people and businesses, while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of government. 

WofG digital platforms increase the  integrity and consistency of government service delivery, and provide a unified and seamless user experience. WofG digital platforms provide capabilities that are shared across policy areas, and deliver greater value through common technical foundations.

WofG digital platforms include a range of technologies that enable departments to develop, exchange and connect services, without needing to design, test and operate the underlying systems themselves.

WofG digital platforms can be adopted with minimal customisation to take full advantage of the efficiencies these platforms offer.

The benefit of digital platforms is the ability to share functionality, consolidate services and develop methods of exchanging data to deliver better value and experiences for users.

The key characteristic of digital platforms is that they are reusable building blocks of simple, common, non-business specific services that are needed across government. They are accessed via simple, common government Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) which in turn provide access to the underlying infrastructure, and can be easily replaced as needed.

    A digital platform is:

    • a collection of reusable business services that can be accessed by consumers (such as departments and agencies) in delivering information, services and experiences to end users (such as people and businesses)
    • able to support government and market-driven innovation by providing open frameworks, standards and tools (where relevant) allowing producers to create new digital services
    • applicable across policy and service delivery areas and deliver value and enhanced integrity to the whole government ecosystem, enabling more efficient and effective delivery of government services
    • aligned with the Digital Transformation Strategy, with central leadership and oversight to ensure consistent user experiences and better policy and service delivery outcomes across government

    Digital Platforms should display the following characteristics:

    • address common needs shared by a range of departments and agencies across government
    • easy and cost efficient to adopt to avoid duplication of effort and implementation of separate solutions to meet the same user need
    • interoperable by design to provide the ability to integrate and exchange information with other platforms and systems with ease through open standards and APIs
    • independent and channel agnostic to provide the ability to run independently, avoid technology ‘lock-in’ and provide the ability to be consumed via different channels 
    • secure and compliant with adequate security measures in place to meet legislative, regulatory and other compliance requirements
    • reliable and highly scalable to give confidence that services will perform as expected, are accessible and can scale to meet user demand
    • continuously improving with the ability to monitor, measure, and analyse performance and generate useful insights to keep the platform relevant
    • meet technical and design standards such as DTA’s Digital Service Standard and API Standards

    Our Platforms landscape

    The Commonwealth already operates many external (for example, myGov) and internal (such as End User Services) WofG platforms. Currently, there are multiple platforms in various stages of development or enhancement, as well as some that have been identified for development in the future. 

    Platforms currently in development

    myGov

    Interact with government, in one place with a single login. This is currently being enhanced to meet Australians’ growing expectations from government digital services.

    Digital identity

    Verification and authentication service to increase security, privacy and enable data exchange.

    Tell Us Once

    Provides a set of services that gives users the ability to maintain common attributes about themselves (initially name, address, email) and have updates distributed to those agencies they give consent for.

    Inbox and notify

    A secure inbox to receive and reply to messages and directly link with actions, and a set of services to give users control over how they are notified of any government interactions. 

    Digital humans

    Personal avatar assistant’s that can talk in a user’s preferred language, understand their needs and provide a familiar face when dealing with the government.

    Capabilities to be developed into platforms in the future

    myGov Dashboard

    A personalised dashboard to access and keep track of government services

    Payments In

    A set of services allowing users to pay a government invoice with their preferred payment type, and for agencies to receive payment and reconciliation reports without having to manage payment types.

    End user services

    Improved service delivery, decision making through smarter use of data and back office support functions.

    Business Registers

    Provides a set of business registry services to establish a reliable, accessible and trusted source of business and company information in Australia.

    Current platforms landscape
    Experience Consistent UX / UI - users move across government seamlessly and tasks across departments fit together neatly. Life event journeys - end-to-end journeys for common events are clearly mapped out for people, eg, becoming a citizen Consent driven - transparency about why, what an dhow data is being shared. Users have control and final say about how the complete tasks Authorisation - permission for families, partners, dependents and businesses to complete selected transactions on behalf of others
    Multiple entry points - users interact with government when and where it suits them, online and offline Proactive notifications - proactive and predictive transactions driven by data, event-driven architecture and AI  AI and data - tailoring services to individuals using AI and data holdings to predict and target what users need Help and support - admin accounts and virtual assistance to ensure that users can get the help they need online, on the phone and at a shop front 
    Platforms to be developed myGov dashboard Payments in End user services Business registers
    Platforms in development Digital identity Tell Us Once Inbox Notifications

    Multiple platforms have been identified to lay the foundations and enable whole-of-government capabilities over the next 3 years. This has been divided into 3 horizons, each focused on enabling both growth and innovation for platforms. Further detail on the three horizons and the underpinning activities has been provided in the digital platforms strategic roadmap section of this document.

    In the future, additional capabilities could be identified as additional WofG platforms. This strategy will help to guide the development of all current and future platforms. 

    Our strategic context

    Significant investment in digital initiatives have already seen the development of easy-to-use digital services that facilitate better policy decisions, and faster, cheaper delivery.

    However, opportunities exist to better collaborate and leverage investments and capabilities across government.

    A whole-of-government (WofG) approach to digital platforms is needed to sustain Australia’s reputation as one of the most advanced digital governments globally and continue to deliver benefits to the Australian people and businesses.

    Why we need digital platforms

    Developing reusable digital platforms of common business services will help reduce the burden on people and businesses, deliver greater benefits to the economy, and speed up digital transformation across government, enabling us to deliver the vision of the Digital Transformation Strategy

    Digital platforms will help shift the delivery of government services to faster and better digital channels that are easily accessible, making government more responsive, convenient and user-focused. Improving digital services also helps boost the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery and facilitate improved integrity and policy outcomes across government services. A WofG approach to identifying, building and operating digital platforms is the solution to a range of current challenges in government.

    Constantly re-inventing the wheel resulting in duplicated expenditure

    Over a long period of time we have invented, developed and gathered a large collection of processes, systems and information that are used in the day-to-day delivery of services. This collection of assets is not easily shared between Commonwealth agencies or with state and territory agencies, forcing new processes to be invented, new systems to be built, and the same information to be gathered multiple times from the community.  This also leads to increased costs, duplicated effort in government and inconvenience to the user.

    Current processes encourage ‘bespoke’ builds designed to meet the needs of a single agency

    The opportunity to reuse a public service asset is often impeded by that asset having been developed or gathered for a single purpose. This asset often only reflects the point-in-time need of the initiating agency, and often cannot be easily reused by other organisations or even the same agency for a different purpose.

    Fragmented user experience

    Agency specific approaches to delivering government services often lead to a fragmented user experience when using more than one government department or agency. Users are also required to provide the same information multiple times, such as when updating their address. This makes sharing information and data between agencies far more time consuming than it needs to be.

    Benefits of digital platforms

    The key benefits that we could achieve by developing whole-of-government digital platforms include:

    • making it easier for people and businesses to deal with government by providing easily accessible, secure, reliable and tailored services, through multiple efficient channels
    • improving integrity of the government ecosystem and services offered by the government by linking different parts of government
    • increasing agility and responsiveness of government by having highly interoperable and flexible platforms that are easy to adapt to changing needs, policies or legislation
    • improving effectiveness and efficiency of government policy and service delivery by supporting both digital and non-digital channels and interactions
    • reducing costs and increasing speed of delivery by enabling reuse of resources and redirecting government resources towards improving service delivery outcomes
    • enabling innovation and use of technology to deliver digital services that are simple, clear and fast.

    Strategic alignment and dependencies

    The Strategy was developed with consideration of other key initiatives and strategies, some of which are outlined below. The Strategy will be reviewed and updated as needed to maintain alignment with relevant government initiatives and policies as they arise.

    The Digital Transformation Strategy

    The Digital Transformation Strategy sets the Australian Government’s 2025 vision to be a world leading digital government for the benefit of all Australians. This vision will help to make it easy to deal with Government, provide excellent services through smarter use of data and the use of contemporary digital capabilities.

    The Secure Cloud Strategy

    The Secure Cloud Strategy was developed to guide agencies beyond current business restrictions and move towards a more agile method of service improvement. It is a framework for sustainable change within the Commonwealth so that all agencies can make use of what cloud has to offer. This strategy provides guidelines and principles for agencies preparing or undergoing the transition to cloud.

    Hosting strategy

    The Hosting Strategy provides a WofG approach for hosting services used by the Commonwealth Government. This strategy provides guidance for different hosting service models, including agency hosted, managed service provision, and cloud-based software-as-a-service.

    Cyber Security Strategy

    The Cyber Security Strategy establishes five themes of action for Australia’s cyber security to be achieved by 2020:

    • a national cyber partnership
    • strong cyber defences
    • global responsibility and influence
    • growth and innovation
    • a cyber smart nation

    Information Security Manual

    The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) produces the Australian Government Information Security Manual (ISM). The manual is the standard which governs the security of government ICT systems.

    ICT Procurement Reform

    The Digital Transformation Agency is making it simpler, easier and faster for Government departments and agencies to buy Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The reform involves the setup of new procurement arrangements or updating of existing arrangements.

    Building Digital Capability Program

    The DTA is working with the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) to establish the Digital Capabilities program. The program aims to:

    • attract digital talent to the Australian Public Service
    • create clear career pathways
    • help managers create digital teams
    • inspire leaders to take a visionary approach to creating digital services

    Supporting whole-of-government Initiatives

    The Department of Finance and the DTA will continue to explore different funding and internal charging arrangements to support WofG initiatives.

    Data sharing and release legislation 

    The Government is developing new Data Sharing and Release legislation to better realise the value of public sector data and modernise the Australian Government data system. The goal of  the new legislation is to streamline the process for sharing public sector data and improve data safeguards across the public service.

    The whole-of-government digital platforms ecosystem

    Digital platforms exist in the wider context of the government ecosystem and will be highly interoperable with departments and agencies’ business and technology environments. By creating an ecosystem that strikes a balance between government and market-driven innovation, we will ensure value is delivered to people and businesses.

    Diagram to illustrate the relationships between platforms ecosystem and stakeholders. In the centre: whole-of-government digital service platforms ecosystem. The next layer out with the heading 'end-users' is business and people. The next layer out with the heading 'Government' is Commonwealth Government,  state and territory governments and local governments. The next layer out with the heading 'Market' is academia, industry, service providers and intermediaries. The outer layer innovation and interoperability.

    Figure 4 Whole-of-government digital platforms ecosystem

     

    End-users

    End-users are people and businesses, who may consume services directly from digital platforms, or indirectly via other channels (such as via agencies).

    Government

    Government includes Commonwealth Government departments and agencies, state, territory and local governments.

    The market

    This broadly refers to non-government entities, such as academia, not-for-profit organisations, intermediaries (such as health providers, tax agents), service providers (such as technology companies) and industry (such as banks, commercial entities).

    Interoperability and innovation unlock value in the ecosystem

    Interoperability is not only technology related, but refers to the overall ability for seamless and frictionless collaboration and interaction between people, businesses, the market and government. Innovation should be driven by government and the market, each playing a critical role.

    Public trust and confidence underpin the entire ecosystem

    Building and maintaining public trust and confidence in our ability to deliver reliable and accessible services as well as protect and manage sensitive data will be critical to the success of WofG digital platforms.

    Continuous feedback from consumers supports the value chain

    Digital platforms are designed to deliver value to consumers. Adopting a human-centred approach ensures that digital platforms are embedded in a continuous feedback loop.

    Our future vision built on digital platforms

    Our digital transformation vision is to be a world leading digital government for the benefit of all Australians. Digital platforms will play an important role in delivering the Digital Transformation Strategy.

    Digital platforms will provide reusable, common business services to accelerate the development of the next generation of government services that are simple, intuitive and make it easy for people and businesses to deal with Government.

    Digital platforms vision

    Whole-of-government digital platforms will support the government’s Digital Transformation Strategy, making it easier for people and businesses to deal with government, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of departments and agencies as they deliver superior policy outcomes and service quality for the benefit of all Australians.

    Digital platform goals

    The primary driver for digital platforms is to provide value to people and businesses. Aligning improved user experience and service delivery outcomes, with cost efficiencies for government and tax payers, will be important to facilitate greater adoption and acceptance.

    The realisation of the vision can be measured through the achievement of the following goals:

    • simplify and reduce unnecessary burden on people and businesses who access government information and services
    • encourage innovation and interoperability, creating a highly interoperable ecosystem of government and market
    • build public trust and confidence in Government’s handling of user and sensitive data
    • increase government’s agility and responsiveness to meet changing expectations
    • deliver continuous improvements and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery
    • improve consistency of the end-to-end experience in using government services

    Strategic principles

    A set of principles to guide decision making and ways of working in relation to digital platforms

    Single vision, strategy and set of priorities

    • the Digital Platforms Strategy and vision is developed and maintained centrally but defined collaboratively
    • the DTA will work with departments and agencies to agree on a set of priorities

    Central leadership and oversight

    • adopt a WofG approach to developing and governing digital platforms, in collaboration with departments and agencies
    • policies, guidelines and standards for digital platforms will be designed, developed, coordinated, delivered and monitored centrally
    • the role of ‘orchestrating’ digital platforms is performed centrally. There is a clear service owner for whole-of-government needs

    Balanced approach to governance

    • various aspects such as strategic alignment, funding, architecture and delivery measures need to be evaluated across the governance lifecycle
    • the level of governance, oversight and reporting will be proportionate to risk, benefits and spend

    Foster strong relationships across the ecosystem

    • foster relationships with industry, academia, and nonprofit organisations and remove barriers that hinder collaboration
    • encourage innovation from industry
    • engage with state, territory and local governments in the design and development process

    Open and collaborative

    • early co-design with delivery agencies and service partners
    • communicate often with public users and across government from Discovery to Live
    • build teams with people from multiple departments and agencies to promote a ‘one team’ mindset

    Incentivise adoption through benefits sharing and recognition

    • design benefit sharing models that promote high levels of collaboration and adoption
    • publicly acknowledge successes and recognise departments and agencies for contributions
    • where possible, reinvest realised cost savings or allocate to contributing departments and agencies

    Consider whole of life costs and benefits

    • ensure business cases demonstrate WofG and long-term view of benefits
    • a total cost of ownership approach to funding must be established and with consideration to ongoing cost of management, operations, continuous improvement and scaling of digital platforms

    Effective and efficient

    • use the most appropriate organisation to perform digital platform functions and select them based on a balanced set of criteria including cost efficiency, capability, security and quality
    • leverage existing resources and capabilities where possible
    • digital platforms should have sufficient resources available to run the platform and meet the agreed service levels and requirements

    Independent and autonomous

    • maintain independence and ensure that the platform does not focus on the needs of a single department or agency, while promoting effective and efficient service delivery
    • design digital platforms to reduce potential competing priorities with departments or agencies
    • digital platforms have the ability to make decisions, aligned with the governance framework

    Security and trust is inherent

    • digital platforms need to consider privacy, cyber security risks and threats; ensuring adequate controls are in place
    • digital platforms are auditable, access and the use of data can be reported

    Policy and service design drives digital services

    • policy and service design outcomes should drive the design of digital platforms
    • simplification or design of policies and services can lead to more common services and platforms

     

    Six keys to success

    In order to sustain the Australian Government as a world leader in digital government services, we will need to make concerted effort using a whole-of-government (WofG) approach.

    As more and more digital platforms are implemented, the long term growth of digital platforms across government will be challenging to manage and maintain.

    We will need to make investments in the right areas that make a significant, valuable impact and enable digital platforms to deliver the benefits and outcomes expected. We have identified 6 keys to success that will help to fully realise the benefits of digital platforms:

    • build trust and confidence – we will need to earn the trust and confidence of the public, governments and other users of digital platforms
    • transform our culture, skills and capabilities – we will need a culture that cultivates innovation, and access to the right people with the right skills and capabilities to make digital platforms successful
    • use technology and data to connect and unify government services – we will develop digital platforms that are interoperable, flexible and extensible
    • strengthen digital leadership, governance and accountabilities – we will define clear roles and accountabilities to govern digital platforms
    • address funding and legislative barriers – we will work across government to remove barriers that stop or hinder cross-government collaboration or adoption of digital platforms
    • foster collaboration and innovation across government and beyond – we will collaborate and engage with a much broader audience to fully realise the benefits of digital platforms

    1. Build trust and confidence

    One of the key elements for success is establishing public and cross-government trust and confidence in digital platforms. This includes addressing public concern about how personal information is accessed, shared and used. It also requires confidence in the performance and availability of digital platforms.

    How we will achieve this

    Empower users by providing choice and control, aligned to policy and legislation

    When designing and developing digital platforms, users will be provided with choice over how their data is used. While user needs are important, this must be balanced with policy, legislative and security requirements.

    Ensure digital platforms are stable, available and resilient

    Digital platforms will need to be built to meet user and technical requirements for stability, availability and resilience. Digital platforms will support consistently high quality experiences, no matter which device or channel users choose to access them.

    Be open and transparent

    We will adopt an open and transparent approach to encourage active engagement with digital platforms. The DTA will help promote trust and confidence in government services and platforms by exploring a number of approaches that can be used to provide transparency, including:

    • defining data policies and standards that are easily accessible and understood
    • developing FAQ pages that break down complex information
    • creating community engagement and communications programs
    • providing visibility of successes and lessons learned
    • collaborating with departments and agencies, as well as industry on open standards

    Define a whole-of-government approach to protection, privacy and the ethical use of data by digital platforms

    We will define a consistent approach to the way whole-of-government digital platforms ensure protection, privacy and the ethical use of data. A whole-of-government approach does not necessarily mean all digital platforms will have the same security measures, but it is about having a consistent approach and process to address cyber security requirements and risks.

    The DTA will provide guidance for digital platforms that is in line with the mitigation strategies set out by the Australian Signals Directorate but additionally provides guidelines that are specific to whole-of-government digital platforms.

    How we will operationalise this

    Our digital platforms operating model consists of the following components that provide further details on how we will build trust and confidence:

    • governance
    • performance
    • technology and data

    2. Transform our culture, skills and capabilities

    The Australian Government’s vision for 2025, as described in the Digital Transformation Strategy, is to be a world leading digital government for the benefit of all Australians. 

    In order to achieve this, the government must develop a collaborative and innovative culture, and the skills and capabilities needed for Whole-of-Government digital platforms.

    How we will achieve this

    Shift to a Whole-of-Government mindset

    We will think of ourselves as working for the Australian Government first, and our department or agency second. We will co-create common objectives and goals, identify shared opportunities and needs, and actively encouraging cross-departmental approaches.

    Embed innovation into our normal work day

    We will apply innovative thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit into everything we do. An innovative culture will encourage new ideas and new ways of solving problems. We will provide a risk tolerant environment that supports and incentivises experimentation and testing of new ideas.

    Adopt new ways of working

    We will continue to use agile and human-centred approaches defined in the Digital Service Standard and bring together diverse multidisciplinary teams to bring the right skills and capabilities to better understand user needs, design more effective services, and deliver solutions with greater efficiency.

    We will improve knowledge sharing across departments and agencies through initiatives that share training and learning resources, as well as offer developer portals that provide community-based support to help digital platform onboarding and implementation.

    Develop critical digital capabilities for whole-of-government digital platforms

    We will equip our people with the right mix of strategy, management, commercial and technical skills necessary to successfully deliver and operate Digital Platforms. The DTA’s Building Digital Capability initiative has already identified 12 critical digital skills for further development:

    • agile delivery management
    • content design
    • digital foundations
    • user research
    • service design
    • accessibility
    • digital performance analysis
    • product management
    • cyber security
    • technology lead
    • digital service management
    • interaction design

    How we will operationalise this

    Our digital platforms operating model consists of the following components that provide further details on how we will transform our culture, skills and capabilities:

    • skills and culture
    • capabilities and processes

    3. Use technology and data to connect and unify government services

    Existing digital government services have often been developed by individual agencies for their own specific needs, which sometimes leads to inconsistent user experiences across Government

    These inconsistencies are driving a disconnected view of Government and also leads to a perception of inefficiencies and duplication. Flexible, interoperable and scalable platforms can provide consistent service delivery performance and reduce duplicated effort across Government by providing reusable common services and functionality while allowing flexibility for agencies to maintain agency-specific business rules and data.

    How we will achieve this

    Adopt a common reference model to deliver consistency, not uniformity

    The DTA will define a reference model for Digital Platforms, supported by design principles and standards, to provide an appropriate level of guidance by outlining platform components and how they should be organised, while allowing for a variety of architecture patterns to be implemented. This allows Digital Platform owners to make architecture decisions specific to their platform.

    The DTA will help Digital Platform owners adopt the common reference model and provide suggestions of recommended architecture patterns for their consideration.

    Create flexible and extensible technology

    By adopting open architectures and open standards, digital platforms will be able to move between technologies, and allow departments and agencies to easily adopt digital platforms.

    The DTA will provide technology and data principles that encourage flexible architectures which are essential for platforms to remain relevant.

    We will develop digital platforms that enable developers to extend and build new functionality on the platform over time. Supporting and engaging with the developer community will be important for the continual evolution of digital platforms so that they continue to meet future needs.

    Develop integration standards, including API standards, to support platform interoperability

    The DTA will develop interoperability standards, including API standards to enable connectivity across Digital Platforms and other existing systems. By exposing functionality through APIs, Digital Platforms are able to connect with other platforms and services. The ability to share functionality and data across government will be integral to the efficient operation of Digital Platforms, and effective service delivery to end users. Defining interoperability standards will help to establish a common communication method between platforms and enable them to be quickly adopted by consumers of digital platform services.

    How we will operationalise this

    Our Digital Platforms Operating Model consists of the following components that provide further details on how we will use technology and data to connect and unify government services:

    • technology and data

    In addition, the API Standards document provides guidance on integrating Digital Platforms.

    4. Strengthen digital leadership, governance and accountabilities

    Strong leadership and governance are at the heart of any successful transformation.

    Digital leaders create the right environment and culture for successful collaboration, innovation, and execution. Clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities need to be defined and agreed to avoid stifling decision making through too much ‘red tape’ while ensuring Digital Platforms conform to the overarching vision and strategy.

    How we will achieve this

    Balance strong oversight with platform independence

    Globally, different approaches have been used to deliver Whole-of-Government platforms. The key lesson from leading global examples is the need for central leadership with strong collaborative efforts across departments and agencies. The DTA will provide leadership in co-developing outcomes and governance structures with relevant departments and agencies to appropriately set accountability that promotes high levels of collaboration.  

    This approach strikes a middle ground between highly centralised and highly decentralised models where the strategic direction is set centrally, but departments and agencies work with each other and the market to deliver Digital Platforms.  

    The level of governance, oversight and reporting must be proportionate to the risks, benefits and spend of each digital platform to ensure that governance is an enabler rather than a hindrance.

    Clearly define accountabilities

    For Digital Platforms to operate effectively and deliver value, there are multiple functions that need to be organised to work together. This can be done by designing an effective organisation model and clarifying the various functions.

    Establishing a decision making framework with clear accountabilities and responsibilities across key decision making areas supports platform autonomy, transparency and efficiency. It is also imperative that there is a strong balance between oversight and control in order to enable agility. Governance of digital platforms consists of three tiers – strategic, platform portfolio and platforms, each with distinct decision rights.

    The DTA will help establish specific charters and processes for the recommended governance forums as outlined below. Strategic leadership and oversight will be provided by the Digital Leadership Group. The Whole-of-Government Investment and portfolio oversight forum reviews and recommends investment priorities. The service design and architecture forum will provide oversight on interoperability across digital platforms. 

     

    The governance model has 3 layers - platforms at the bottom, platforms portfolio above it and strategy and vision at the top. Platform steering committees are in the platforms layer and can either report to platform stewardship groups or directly to the service design and architecture forum. Platform stewardship groups report to either the whole-of-government investment and portfolio oversight forum or the service design and architecture forum. The digital leadership group is the top level that gets reported to.

    Figure 7 Digital platforms governance model

    Platforms Stewardship groups may be established over time as related digital platforms emerge, potentially formed around Life Events. These groups govern end-to-end policy and service delivery outcomes.

    Define measures to determine the success of the strategy

    It is necessary to identify a set of key performance measures at a Whole-of-Government level linked to strategic goals to determine the success of Digital Platforms.

    Digital platforms should define a balanced set of performance measures which span a number of categories including:

    • strategic measures that demonstrate progress against strategic goals, for example, percentage of transactions completed using digital platforms compared to non-digital alternatives
    • project performance measures that relate to the implementation of digital initiatives, for example, percentage of user stories completed
    • user experience measures that address how satisfied a user is with a digital platform, for example, user satisfaction and engagement scores over time
    • financial measures that are related to the costs and benefits of running a digital platform, for example, the cost per transaction for a platform
    • operational measures relating to the general operation of digital platforms, for example, system availability of the platform
    • data and security measures that provide visibility of security and data controls, for example, effectiveness of access controls and number of cyber security incidents detected

    The DTA will provide guidance for digital platforms on setting performance objectives and measures that align with strategic goals.

    How we will operationalise this

    Our Digital Platforms Operating Model consists of the following components that provide further details on how we will strengthen our digital leadership, governance and accountabilities:

    • organisation
    • governance
    • performance

     

      5. Address funding and legislative barriers

      Existing funding processes and data sharing legislations can act as barriers to digital platform adoption.

      These barriers hinder development and collaboration across departments and agencies and need to be addressed to enable the Strategy to be successful.

      How we will achieve this

      Shift from a project to a service mindset  

      Current funding processes require detailed benefits to be defined and estimated over a 4 year timeframe. Digital platforms are likely to be delivered using an agile test-and-learn approach and long-term benefits may not be fully defined upfront.  

      Existing funding processes need to be reviewed to ensure they remain relevant for digital platforms and allow the provision of sufficient funding for digital platforms to test ideas, designs and solutions in small iterations.

      Sustainable funding also needs to be provided for digital platforms to evolve and continuously improve, to operate effectively, and be maintained appropriately. A whole of life, staged funding approach will be crucial for the success of digital platforms.  

      Allow shared funding models that facilitate collaboration

      We believe that allowing shared funding contribution models, and the ability to ‘chargeback’ or distribute costs fairly promotes greater collaboration and accountability for digital platforms. 

      We will work collaboratively with departments and agencies to co-design an appropriate funding model for each specific digital platform, in line with government requirements. It is imperative that the owner of the digital platform drives the development of an appropriate funding model in collaboration with key stakeholders. The funding model developed should be approved by the relevant governance forum, in line with the agreed governance framework.

      We recommend that the funding model for each digital platform be reviewed periodically to ensure it promotes the right behaviours, and is effective and sustainable as platforms evolve.

      Address legislative barriers to data sharing

      Data sharing is essential for interoperability and ultimately the ability for digital platforms to deliver value. A key purpose of digital platforms is to exchange data so it will be important that barriers that prevent or limit departments and agencies from sharing data with each other are addressed.

      The ability to collect reporting data to analyse the operational performance and compliance of digital platforms is vital to building trust and confidence.  

      We are aware of the current challenges that hinder data sharing and the benefits that can be achieved if these challenges can be resolved. In its public data policy statement, government recognised the importance of effectively managing data sharing as a national resource for the benefit of the Australian people. New data sharing and release legislation will help facilitate resolution of these challenges.

      The new legislation will govern the sharing and release of a wide range of data held by the Australian Government while improving data safeguards and risk management tools to create a more transparent environment for data sharing.

      The DTA is a key stakeholder in designing and implementing the new legislation, including assessing any potential impact on digital platforms. 

      How we will operationalise this

      Our Digital Platforms Operating Model consists of the following component that provides further details on how we will address funding and legislative barriers:

      • funding

      6. Foster collaboration and innovation across Government and beyond

      Developing and delivering digital platforms will require a broad range of people, skills and experiences.

      Not all of these will exist in government, nor will it necessarily need to come from within government. It is crucial to understand how government can collaborate across all levels of government to leverage existing capabilities, as well as access leading capabilities from experiences by co-innovating with industry, academia, non-profit organisations, and commercial entities of all sizes from startups to global companies. 

      How we will achieve this

      Have a shared purpose with common goals and priorities across government

      The Strategy defines a vision for whole-of-government digital platforms. The DTA will help promote this vision and strategy and to work with departments and agencies to agree a set of goals and priorities for Digital Platforms.  

      This can be achieved through clearly defined accountabilities and using a tiered, fit-for-purpose performance management framework. In addition, designing benefit sharing models will help to promote higher levels of collaboration across the government.  

      Explore organisational and reward structures that promote cross-agency collaboration

      We will develop new and creative ways to reward and recognise departments who work across organisational boundaries to develop digital platforms that support improved service delivery and policy outcomes.  

      We will explore practical cross-organisational structures and arrangements like ‘boundary spanner’ roles that focus on facilitating collaboration across agency and policy boundaries. 

      Use life events as guideposts for collaboration

      This approach aligns with the Digital Transformation Strategy, ensuring people’s needs are at the heart of our policy and service design.

      The DTA are already working on whole-of-government definitions of life events. Taking a ‘life event’ approach to policy and service design drives the need for cross-agency collaboration, allowing a user’s needs to be viewed holistically. 

      Understand the role of the market, and how to work with them

      By having a clear understanding of the role and capabilities of the market will help government and market to co-innovate on whole-of-government challenges. We will promote collaboration with the market through increased interoperability by:

      • sharing data where possible, with appropriate consent
      • being transparent about the problems that need to be addressed and the priorities as well as the planned roadmap of investments from government
      • providing documentation, developer portals, and ensuring strict adoption of interoperability standards like API standards
      • having more formalised and consistent ways to co-innovate with the market
      • accessing innovative technologies to provide easy-to-use and fast digital services for users

      Extend collaboration to all layers of government

      We will encourage collaboration with state, territory and local governments by:

      • identifying and re-using services built by state, territory and local governments to provide whole-of-government services where possible
      • recognising which digital platforms are better executed by state, territory and local governments and supporting them to build these platforms
      • engage state, territory and local governments through reference groups and governance forums, such as the Australian Digital Council (ADC) where appropriate
      • making whole-of-government platforms available to state, territory and local government

      How we will operationalise this

      Our Digital Platforms Operating Model consists of the following components that provide further details on how we will foster collaboration and innovation across government and beyond:

      • governance
      • performance
      • the role of the market

      The digital platforms strategic roadmap

      The DTA will take an active role in coordinating and maintaining the strategic roadmap, working closely with departments to deliver recommended initiatives to implement the strategy.

      Overview

      The 6 keys to success provide the key areas of focus to support existing digital platforms, and to enhance governance, processes, and capabilities in order to maintain and sustain a growing portfolio of digital platforms.

      The Digital Platforms Strategic Roadmap outlines the practical steps to take to implement the Strategy. The key initiatives have been grouped, in order of priority, into 3 horizons:

      Horizon 1: Build foundations for digital platforms consists of high priority initiatives needed to govern, guide and increase adoption of digital platforms

      Horizon 2: Scale current digital platforms consists of initiatives that helps embed whole-of-government digital platforms and remove barriers to success

      Horizon 3: Extend the digital platforms landscape looks to increase the number of digital platforms as well as extend collaboration to other levels of government.

      The implementation of approved platforms – Digital Identity, Tell Us Once, Inbox, Notifications and Payments In – will continue in parallel with the recommended initiatives to implement the Strategy.

      The DTA will refine the strategic roadmap, and update the initiatives and priorities as circumstances change. The Strategy will also be updated to accommodate future initiatives, respond to policy and legislative changes, and meet shifting needs of people and businesses. The strategic roadmap will also be updated to remain flexible and adaptable to changes. 

      Key initiatives

      Key to success – build trust and confidence 

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2019.

      Data usage standards for digital platforms

      • develop and publish data usage policies and standards for digital platforms
      • set standards and guidelines for ethical use of data, such as secondary use of data 

      Cyber security plan for digital platforms

      • develop a Digital Platforms cyber security plan
      • review Cyber Security Strategy, ISM and other relevant strategies to ensure alignment 

      Digital platforms communications strategy 

      • develop a communications strategy and plan for engaging with:
        • commonwealth, state and territory, and local governments
        • people and businesses 

      Digital platforms adoption plan 

      • develop a plan across all levels of government to simplify, streamline and support on-boarding and adoption of digital platforms 

      Whole-of-government digital platforms reporting

      • develop reporting processes (including structure and cadence) and templates to track whole-of-government benefits to provide visibility and promote transparency. Elements include: 
        • financials
        • governance
        • availability and reliability
      • develop relevant whole-of-government platforms dashboards for key stakeholder groups, such as ministers, CIOs and platform teams

      Key to success – transform our culture, skills and capabilities

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2019.

      Knowledge sharing and management

      • determine approach for knowledge sharing and management
      • develop supporting documents to operationalise digital platforms
      • enhance existing tools such as platforms.gov.au to create a central platforms catalogue

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2019–20.

      Skills and capability

      • identify gaps in skills and capacity required to deliver the Strategy:
        • within the DTA
        • across other departments and agencies
      • prioritise skills and capabilities for to be further developed in the near future
      • roll out skills and capability development programme for digital platforms 

      Culture for success

      • identify and define cultural changes required for success
      • identify and mobilise a network of Culture Ambassadors who will bring about change at a grass-roots level
      • align incentives and rewards to target behaviours through an integrated approach  

      Key to success – use technology to connect and unify government services

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2018.

      API standards

      • iterate and communicate API standards 
      • review in-flight digital platforms for alignment to new API standards
         

      Digital platforms architecture models and patterns

      • define standard architecture patterns for digital platforms
      • establish standards / best practices for each service layer in the technology reference model

      Digital platform connectivity

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2019.

      • establish open architecture, interoperability standards and specifications
      • explore platform connectivity ad integration options
      • perform compatibility assessment across departments and agencies
      • review data sharing methods including access privileges / permissions 

      Future digital platforms

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2020–21.

      • conduct an assessment of how services are delivered by departments and agencies to identify potential future digital platforms
      • prioritise digital platforms for Discovery

      Key to success – strengthen digital leadership, governance and accountabilities

      Digital platforms governance model

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2018.

      • implement proposed governance model including:
        • expand remit of existing bodies as appropriate
        • establish new bodies as required
        • identify and establish required governance accountabilities
      • develop detailed charters for governance bodies
      • develop governance processes for forums

      Digital platforms accountabilities

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2019.

      • develop selection criteria to identify agencies responsible for digital platform functions
      • communicate selection criteria to appropriate governance functions to enable decision making

      Performance management for digital platforms

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2019.

      • design key performance measures and metrics across key performance areas:
        • strategic
        • project performance
        • user experience
        • financial
        • operational
        • data and security
      • implement monitoring, management and reporting structures and cycles  

      Key to success – address funding and legislative barriers

      Support investment reform

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2019–20.

      • support Investment Reform to enable flexible, relevant funding approaches and processes for digital platforms 

      Fix legislative barriers

      • identify key legislative barriers 
      • develop mitigation plans and actions

      Key to success – foster collaboration and innovation across government and beyond 

      Collaboration across Commonwealth Government

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2019.

      • identify and define boundary-spanning roles across departments and agencies

      Co-innovation with the market 

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2019–20.

      • develop more formalised and consistent ways to engage with the market
      • determine engagement plan to engage with:
        • universities and research organisations
        • industry groups
        • special interest groups

      Collaboration across all levels of government 

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2018–21.

      • identify existing services at commonwealth, state and territory and local levels that can be leveraged as future whole-of-government digital platforms
      • develop and roll out an education program around platforms across all levels of government 

      Key to success – implementing approved digital platforms

      The timeframe for these initiatives is 2018–21.

      Tell Us Once, Inbox, Notify and Payments In

      • complete Alpha and Beta
      • transition to Live and on-board departments and agencies
      • enhance services 

      Federal Digital Identity

      • complete Alpha and Beta
      • transition to Live and on-board departments and agencies
      • enhance services

      Service Connect

      • define and develop initial service
      • transition to Live and on-board departments and agencies
      • enhance services