Broader review of myGov platform is on the cards

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The new Labor government has been advised that a “broader review” of myGov may be needed to shape the future of the platform, as “underlying complexities” continue to plague efforts to integrate services onto it.

Under an election campaign policy, an audit is currently underway into the reliability, functionality and user-friendly experience of myGov following “ongoing disappointments” with its performance.

In a briefing to Government Services minister Bill Shorten, released following a Freedom of Information Act request, the Department of Social Services acknowledged this audit but said that a wider ranging review may be required.

“A broader review of myGov functionality and user experience within the context of a large and complex whole-of-government digital ecosystem would support future shaping of the myGov platform,” the incoming brief said.

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The audit, which will soon be underway, will be conducted “at arm’s length” from Services Australia and myGov and is being led by a senior public servant who is working with the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Mr Shorten on Tuesday morning delivered a speech on Tuesday outlining his vision for myGov.

“While agencies continue to create digital silos, with their own disconnected apps and websites, ordinary Australians will remain rightfully frustrated,” Mr Shorten said.

“Imagine a myGov that unifies government digital services – by making it more valuable for the Commonwealth, states and service providers to interface with myGov to offer better service delivery to Australians.

“The election result shows citizens are hungry for better government, they expect to be heard, they expect reforms and the delivery of effective and ethical digital services can play a vital role in these reforms.”

But the brief provided to Mr Shorten said that unifying government digital services provided by a range of Departments and agencies has proved difficult.

“These digital services, and the underlying systems, have been developed at different times and are based on a variety of technologies,” the brief said.

“This underlying complexity, together with the diversity of policy and program settings across government, creates complexity and levels of risk when integrating government services. Improvements to the system are being made through enhanced myGov will commence in the coming months.

“Services Australia is committed to creating seamless digital experiences for customers, and is currently making significant progress to improve customer experiences through enhanced myGov.”

Services Australia has been working on an “enhanced myGov” since early 2020, when Deloitte was brought in on a near-$1 million limited tender contract to build a prototype for the new platform through a “90-day sprint”.

Deloitte was eventually handed contracts worth more than $30 million to turn this into a working beta, with a four-company panel then established to continue working on the platform, which is still in beta.

When the first beta of the enhanced myGov was released in July 2020 Services Australia said it was designed to provide an integrated content site for government services, allowing a user to find the relevant service or information without having to know how the government is structured or which agency is responsible for it.

The enhanced myGov will serve as a “search engine for government”, with an advanced service dashboard and document upload functionality, the Department said at the time.

The outsourcing of the work on the new version of myGov has been labelled a “huge mistake” by a key architect of the original myGov.

Former Australian government chief information officer Glenn Archer said he “despairs” at the slack of progress on myGov and that it is currently “not up to scratch”.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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