The Australian Government is committed to continuing its reform of the Australian Public Service (APS).
It recognises the significant work required to address nearly a decade of underinvestment in and outsourcing of capabilities, while keeping pace with rapidly developing technologies and public expectations related to data and digital.
The Government is already delivering on this commitment. It’s providing better services to people and business by improving legacy ICT systems, including a re-invigorated myGov and expansion of the Digital ID system. It’s recognising data as a shared national asset by strengthening data sharing practices, including the first accreditations under the Data Availability and Transparency Act (DATA) Scheme and a review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Data Sharing. It’s positioning Australia to respond to opportunities, threats and emerging technologies, including the creation of a National Cyber Security Coordinator and the release of the 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy.
Trust in Australian public services has steadily increased since 2019, with 61% of survey respondents in 2022 saying they trusted the Government’s services (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2022).
Further work, however, is required to achieve this Strategy’s vision.
In 2022, Australia’s ranking on the United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI) dropped to 7th – its lowest ranking in a decade.
While digital inclusion in Australia continues to improve, with an index score of 73.2 (Australian Digital Inclusion Index, 2023), there remains a persistent digital divide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, older Australians, people from lower social-economic backgrounds, and those living in regional and remote areas. Consultations on the initial Strategy confirmed that those most in need of government services can often feel left behind by the shift towards digital technology. Achieving this Strategy’s 2030 vision will require significant improvement in inclusion and accessibility of data and digital government services.
The Cyber Threat Report shows Government’s critical infrastructure, businesses and households continue to be targeted by malicious state and non-state actors (Australian Signals Directorate (ASD, 2023). Feedback from consultation on the Strategy emphasised how important trust and security are to Australians. Government systems are also targets for cyber-attacks, and while improvements have been made, the cyber security maturity of Government entities remains low (ASD, 2022).
Current digital transformation methods and investment models do not reflect contemporary procurement practices. This reduces the Government's ability to respond and innovate. New and updated frameworks like the Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework (IOF) supports the Government to manage its digital and ICT investments and manage delivery risks by providing governance, contestability, delivery and assurance activities across the entire project lifecycle.
Building a data-driven, digitally enabled Government depends on the expertise within the APS, yet years of outsourcing have increased the APS’ reliance on external capability. In 2021, almost half of its digital and ICT workforce were contractors, service providers and consultants (Digital Transformation Agency, 2021); an annual cost of $2.1 billion, $1.1 billion and $200 million respectively.
A diverse and inclusive data and digital workforce enables greater innovation, understanding and effective decision making. In 2022, however, only 41% of the APS’s data and digital roles were performed by women (Australian Public Service Commission, 2022).
Rebuilding the APS’s data and digital workforce requires striking a balance when engaging external capability, tapping into its existing talent and better supporting those who are under-represented in these roles, including women, people with disability and culturally and linguistically diverse people. This will be key to future proofing the APS with the skills and resources needed to achieve the Strategy’s 2030 vision.
Data and digital technologies are critical to the Australian Government’s activities. Continued commitment to improving how the APS adopts and uses data and digital technologies will lead to even more progress.
- Growing maturity will improve service delivery, enhance evidence-based decision-making, policy and program evaluation, and increase the public’s trust in the Government’s handling of their information.
- Advancing interoperability will remove silos, reduce the number of times Government collects the same information and make it easier to design and deliver services around people, rather than around how Government is structured.
- Strengthening oversight and advice functions and providing visibility of other commitments at the time decisions on data and digital investments are made will lead to more efficient and effective spending.
- Replacing outdated technologies will improve functionality and productivity and address cyber security vulnerabilities.
- Reducing storage of the same data across multiple systems will make it easier to manage, reducing the risk and impacts of data breaches and other cyber security incidents.
- Updating legislation, standards and policies will allow Government to harness data and digital technologies safely, easily and while maintaining public trust.
- Leading by example will help build the public’s trust and respect in the APS and encourage broader adoption of emerging technologies and their safe and responsible adoption in the broader economy.
The Strategy is accompanied by an Implementation Plan (the Plan).
The Plan details where we are starting from, and the actions the Australian Government will take to achieve the Strategy’s 2030 vision. The initiatives included highlight activities of national importance delivering substantial outcomes for the Australian public and the APS, through significant innovation, large-scale reform, and service uplift that support the Strategy’s missions. The Plan will be updated each year.
The Plan also includes metrics to track progress against the Strategy and provide a transparent scorecard of progress towards the Strategy’s vision of simple, secure and connected public services, for all people and business, through world class data and digital capabilities.
What success looks like
- Government services are safe, inclusive, accessible and digital by design
- integrity and transparency in service delivery increase trust in the Government
- cyber secure government systems
- APS data and digital activities are underpinned by a commitment to privacy, security and ethical use
- increased evidence-based policy and decision making
- greater value from public and private sector data
- greater usability and availability of government-held data
- increased intergovernmental collaboration
- interoperable architecture
- investments in data and digital technologies are effective, advance digital capability and maturity, and are best value for money
- increased data and digital literacy, competency and professional capability and capacity for a diverse and innovative APS workforce.