DTO reveals first targets on digital hit list

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DTO reveals first targets on digital hit list
Paul Shetler

Medicare registrations, online doctor's bookings in its sights.

The federal government’s digital services agency has released its first work program, highlighting the initial set of publicly-delivered transactions it plans to give the ‘DTO treatment’.

The Digital Transformation Office, which moved into the Prime Minister’s portfolio under Malcolm Turnbull, has $255 million to draw from thanks to the last federal budget, plus $95 million over four years to get on its feet.

Chief executive Paul Shetler today revealed the first set of targets in the agency's drive to make the government easier to deal with.

In its sights are a unified platform for accessing government services, an online booking system for doctor’s appointments in the ACT, and an easier process of registering for Medicare.

“In any given month, more than half of the 2.5 million Australians who look up government  information and services online will ​experience a problem​,” Shelter wrote in a blog post.

“Our vision is that everyone who needs to use government services should be able to find what they need, quickly and easily”.

The DTO will team up with the Department of Human Services' giant IT shop to devise a better way for more than 600,000 citizens to sign up for Medicare benefits every year.

It also plans to launch a program of work with the Department of Immigration to streamline the process for declaring imports to Customs. Shetler said businesses make 3.5 million of these declarations every year, a figure expected to rise exponentially into the future.

The ACT is first on the DTO’s list of state and territory partners, as it strives fill the service delivery gaps between different levels of government as well as between agencies.

It is teaming up with the small government to build an electronic booking system for the territory's seven community health centres, aimed finding a more efficient way to address non-urgent medical needs.

Also on the DTO’s to-do list is streamlining the way new businesses register with the ATO and Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

One of the lessons chief Paul Shetler has been championing, picked up during his time at the UK’s government digital service, is the value of time-boxed initiatives and prototyped services developed up from a minimum viable product.

This is an approach the agency plans to apply to the establishment of a .gov.au common service platform, to guide users to the transactions and information they need, independently of the agency that delivers it. The DTO plans to build a prototype within just nine weeks.

“Consistent with our approach to design, the prototype will be built around the users’ needs, rather than government’s structures,” Shelter said.

The DTO is getting stuck into the work program following a frenzied recruitment period that saw Shetler import a number of his former colleagues from the UK government into Sydney and Canberra.

The team will also start work on evaluating digital transition plans demanded from federal agencies, to determine whether they stack up against the DTO’s digital standards.

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