Government mandating digital

Few if any in government expect the latest ANAO probe into my Gov’s performance to deliver any good news, especially after the monumental scale of dysfunction and chronic under-resourcing of welfare agency Centrelink’s call centres was laid bare in an excoriating audit report last year.

Although the DTO’s big ramp-up on digital identity and the ANAO probe into my Gov are not formally linked, the timing of the two announcements is so fortuitously close that it’s again rammed home the urgent need to arrest what DTO chief Paul Shetler has previously labelled the unacceptably high “failure cost” of poor and disconnected public services.

“That is a risk in setting up a private market; unless they get to a viable business case, the boards of those companies are going to be unhappy with those business models. of the providers that is less successful may want to leave.” One of the problems for government is when a private provider does exit the market, what happens to its customers.

Dixon makes no bones about the risk of taxpayers potentially propping up a half-broken business.

“The thing I would say is that the market here is different than some other countries,” Ms Dixon told .

Australians will see an ‘alpha’ version prototype of a new, national opt-in digital identity credential for government services as early as August this year; with a fuller version likely to emerge in 2017 according to the new Head of Identity at the Digital Transformation Office (DTO).

That’s the take from Rachel Dixon, the woman hand-picked to galvanise the agency’s efforts to develop a new user friendly, multi-agency key to provide secure and easy online access to government services and transactions for consumers.

Both Bob Hawke’s ‘Australia Card’ (essentially a national photo ID card) and later Joe Hockey’s ‘Access Card’ (a multi-agency government services smartcard also with a photo) died swiftly amid fears the instruments could give government new and invasive powers to keep tabs on citizens.

Even the far less contested rollout of e-health has taken more than a decade thanks to the fractious politics of federation, privacy and various stakeholder groups.

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The recent appointment of Ms Dixon is a critical step forward for the DTO as it attempts to dramatically improve the public’s experience of dealing with government services by shifting to a so-called ‘user centric’ development model – one that is based on catering to the real world needs of citizens instead of forcing them conform to myriad of disconnected portals, passwords, information requirements and standards.

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