Australia leading e-Government practice

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Australia leading e-Government practice

Australia is at the forefront of e-Government practice if Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn, is to be believed.

Australia is at the forefront of e-Government practice if Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn, is to be believed.

Speaking at the e-Gov Forum at CeBIT, Nairn said Australia ranked among the top nations for the delivery and implementation of services and programs via the internet.

Backing up the claim, he said some 80 percent of all tax returns were now submitted online and the number of people using government services online was also on the rise.

From the 2004/05 year to 2005/06 this figure had grown from 39 percent to just under half of Australia’s population accessing services such as vehicle registration, family and child benefits, he said.

Additionally, 19 percent of Australians - up from 14 over the same period - now used the internet for all their dealings with the Federal Government.

The announcement follows yesterday’s release of the Federal Budget which flagged $2.7 billion over four years for ICT spending. It also contained 33 ICT-related funding measures - including the now infamous $1 billion for a dedicated national ‘smart’ card, Nairn said.

Other areas included $375 million for an updated document and records management system for the Department of Immigration and $57.6 million for the Tourism and Industry Department to expand its portal.

Funding would also be provided to the Attorney General’s Office for a national document verification service, and a national network to link health systems across the sector.

As part of its growing interest in e-Gov, Nairn said the government would look to work more closely with industry in the design and development stage of products and services it used.

The government was also working with the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) to identify key skill areas needed for its e-Gov plans.

These included expertise in service oriented architectures (SOAs) identity management, single sign-on security, user accounts - where citizens could store data and control which government agencies had access to what information, and smart cards.

Also speaking at the forum, Kable chairman, William Heath, said governments needed to exploit technology wins already made in the private sector and look toward co-creation.

Rather than spend millions on their own portals, government should look to public search engines as a base for their own sites, he said. Local information could also be linked with global tools such as Google Earth to create guides to the location of government services in a certain area.

Savings could also be made by exploiting new communication tools such as XML and RSS as a way to push information to citizens instead of sending mass mail-outs by post, Heath said.

The encouragement of co-creation via tools such as Web 2.0 would also allow government to build open services which could then be modified and improved by citizens to achieve services which met their real needs, he said.

Kable is a UK-based provider of public sector research, publishing and event services.


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