Aussie PM forms digital agency to accelerate digital growth

GOVERNMENTS and government agencies across the world have a reputation for being slow to adopt new technologies and solutions.

This is despite the fact that governments administrations often handle very complex tasks and functions, as well as deliver crucial services to the public.

However, newer, more progressive leaders are bucking this trend.

Recently re-elected Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the creation of a new agency in the country, to improve service delivery and ease the process of dealing with the government through the use of technology.

According to media reports, the tech-driven organizations will be called Services Australia and will be part of the nation’s Human Services portfolio.

“I want to see some congestion-busting when it comes to bureaucratic bottlenecks and regulatory bottlenecks so Australians can get access to those services in a more timely and efficient way for them, making better use of technology and better-integrating service delivery across different portfolios,” Morrison said during the announcement.

Delivering people-focused services

Services Australia however, is not entirely a novel concept. It will be modeled after Services NSW, a body that that established by the regional New South Wales (NSW) government in 2015, to deliver digital, people focused services.

The NWS center enabled residents of New South Wales to access wide-ranging government services that included business support, birth, death and marriage registrations, among other things.

Morrison admitted that Services Australia would “pick up its lead” from the successful Service NSW initiative.

“This, I think, has been a very important reform in NSW and has made dealing with government much easier. That’s what we want the government to be for Australians – we just want it to be much easier,” the Prime Minister said

He added, “It’s also about driving the better use of information technology and apps that can assist Australians to better access the services they need.”

Before this, Australia’s Digital Transformation (DTA) has been leading the country’s digital initiatives, and reports suggest that Services Australia might absorb the agency.

Meanwhile, Stuart Robert, who is given a newly-created Cabinet-level position of minister for government services will lead Services Australia. He is said to have an extensive background in IT prior to joining Australian politics.

All in all, Australia, thus far has underachieved in many ways in the digital transformation space, relative to its APAC neighbors such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

While progress has been slow, this announcement along with the allocations in the recent federal budget to reinforce the government’s support to the tech industry, among others, give observers some reasons to be optimistic of Australia’s long term digital prospect.

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