Covid-19 helped give the WA government the “will and the determination to want to make change” after seeing the benefits of digital first-hand, according chief information officer Greg Italiano.
In this week’s episode of the iTnews Podcast, Italiano discusses how the pandemic helped ignite the government’s digital transformation by bringing it to the table for some much-needed funding.
“We’ve been able to bring government along on the journey, and certainly Covid has helped with respect to government’s appreciation and understanding of digital and data,” Italiano said.
He made the comments just before a $500 million digital capability fund was established to accelerate the state’s digital transformation over four years by upgrading legacy IT systems.
With digital investment levels at the “lower end” in recent years due to budget constraints, Italiano said the Office of Digital Government had been keen to give “greater confidence to government”.
“It’s a bit of a journey to overcome past challenges and where governments have perceived there’s been failures in the delivery of ICT-related projects and the like,” he said.
But projects like the SafeWA contact tracing app and the G2G Pass border management system, as well as other important digital initiatives during the pandemic, had helped to accelerate the journey.
“All those [digital projects] have happened more quickly, more decisively than we could have hoped,” he said.
“And because we’ve had compelling timeframes, it’s demonstrated that most of time it’s not technology that’s the inhibitor, it’s just the will and the determination to want to make change.
“So as much as it’s obviously had a very adverse impact on our lives, from a digital point of view, that’s one of the positives that’s come out of it.”
Italiano said the Office of Digital Government is now looking to the future, with plans to implement the digital strategy launched in June.
The strategy promises to build “whole-of-government digital capabilities” to reimagine citizen-facing online services through the single government website, WA.gov.au.
“In particular, I’d like us to see an investment profile grow in services that will be noticed by citizens and will make a difference to their lives in terms of convenience and access,” he said.
Part of this will involve “getting away from the fact that you access the services through [specific] agencies, as opposed to a single place to come to for government”.
WA government has until now been slow to roll out digital services, with the last estimate in the 2017 service priority review indicating that only 2.5 percent of government services were online.
Italiano said that while there was no “revision of that number”, the government wanted to see more services online and is hoping that will accelerate.
“We’re working on those things, and we’ve also been developing other platform that would support agencies to leverage services such as tell us once, capability, e-forms and the like,” Italiano added.
Italiano pointed to digital identity as one of the reasons for the limited number of online services, but that the government had been able to leverage some of the work at the Commonwealth level more recently.
“We are currently connected in beta to the myGovID and we have plans to grow that and use that identity service and other as they become available,” he said.
“The principle is we want to give people choice, and we want to give them the ability to determine what level of ID they want to use.
“And in some cases, that might be their social media identity to log on to a service that’s just an information service.