The Department of Communications has signalled its intention to play a more active role in the e-government space by launching a digital transformation office (DTO) within its ranks.
The DTO will assume responsibility for customer-facing digital service delivery in the federal government, while federal IT lead - the Department of Finance - will keep procurement and back office IT responsibility.
A spokesperson for Turnbull today denied that the DTO was a replacement agency for the former Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) within Finance, which has undergone a name change and a restructure since the Coalition came to power.
"The Department of Finance will retain responsibility for ICT procurement policies and guidelines, however given the significance of ICT procurement to the government’s digital transformation, the DTO will work closely with the Department of Finance and AGIMO," he said.
"The DTO will be responsible for investing in ICT relating to digital service delivery."
The head of the DTO, who will join the highest ranks of public sector IT leadership, will have the final say when it comes to investment decisions relating to the customer service space.
In a joint statement issued by Comms Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott today, the pair said the DTO would be staffed by “a small team of developers, designers, researchers and content specialists working across government to develop and coordinate the delivery of digital services”.
The DTO is expected to be home to about 100 staff, with its ranks set to rise and fall according to its workload. Recruitment will begin soon.
Its remit will be to champion end-to-end digital service delivery by government, continuing the work started by the Department of Human Services with its unified online services portal myGov.
The team will be tasked with establishing a single “digital identity” that citizens can use to transact with any government agency, rather than maintaining a separate login for each different service.
DTO will also finalise a ‘tell-us-once’ capability that will allow agencies to share updates to customer details, and plans to roll out real-time monitoring of the team’s performance, similar to the NSW government’s customer service agency Service NSW.
“Interacting with government should be as easy as internet banking or ordering a taxi through an app,” Turnbull and Abbott said in the statement.
“By designing digital services that are consistent and simple to use, fewer people will need to come into a shopfront or make a phone call.”
The ministers also insisted the unit would operate “more like a start-up than a traditional government agency”, suggesting the DTO will be expected to approach customer adoption in a competitive way.
The announcement is in keeping with the digital services agenda outlined ahead of the 2013 election by the Coalition which, amongst other things, committed to a ‘digital-by-default’ policy for government transactions and a target of shifting government interactions that occur more than 50,000 times a year online by 2017.
However, the Government has remained largely silent on this policy in the period since.