A panel of experts led by former CSIRO chair David Thodey will undertake a major audit of myGov promised by the federal government in the lead up to the election to deliver reliability and usability improvements for users.
Former Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, social epidemiologist Professor Emily Banks, and Uber’s former head of global economic policy Amit Singh will join Mr Thodey on the panel.
Government Services minister Bill Shorten announced the five-person panel on Friday, making good on an election pledge to review the performance and user experience of the digital services platform that now receives a million sign-ins each day.
“We’ve moved quickly on our election commitment to identify the changes needed to improve myGov’s reliability, functionality and deliver a more user-friendly experience,” he said.
The user audit, which is expected to begin “in the coming weeks” and report by the end of the year, will be used to identify necessary improvements to the revamped myGov platform that launched only last week after two years of work.
Services Australia – and the Digital Transformation Agency before it – began the overhaul in early 2020, enlisting the help of US consulting giant Deloitte to develop a prototype at the cost of almost $1 million using a limited tender.
Since then, Deloitte has been paid more than $30 million for its work on the rebuild, while Adobe has been paid $32 million for the “core technology components” behind the new myGov. Additional contracts have also been awarded through a Systems Integrator Panel.
At a Gartner conference on the Gold Coast this week, Services Australia chief information and digital officer Charles McHardie provided some of the first real insight into the work that has taken place, with the new platform “built on some leading technologies”.
He said Service Australia had “redeveloped some of [its] internal platform capabilities on [its] in-house private cloud capability, while partnering with industry providers such as Adobe and Amazon Web Services to provide the scalability and flexibility”.
But despite the recent changes, it is the notoriety myGov gained from outages and a poor user experience over its decade-long existence, including when it crashed during the massive surge in demand for welfare in March 2020, that has damaged its image.
Mr Shorten on Friday acknowledged the recent work that has taken place, which he described as the “first significant updates to myGov in a number of years”, but said there was a need to ensure the platform is “constantly improved”.
The audit is expected to identify improvements that can be implement once the former Coalition government’s $200 million in funding for the platform, provided as part of the Digital Economy Strategy, ends in mid-2023.
Mr Shorten said the panel of experts leading the audit had been chosen due to their diverse backgrounds in technology, ethics, public health and government, and would help ensure myGov becomes a world-class digital services platform.
He said Mr Thodey was well placed to lead the review given his “extensive global experience across technology, innovation, research and the public sector” and “strong interest in the customer-centred transformation of business”.
Mr Thodey also authored the root-and-brand review of the Australian Public Service in 2019, a reform agenda that the government plans to “pick up and run” with after inaction by the former Coalition government.
“Mr Thodey led the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service in 2019 providing a vision to better use digital technologies to deliver outstanding government services,” Mr Shorten said on Friday.
“That review recommended three key principles for service delivery. Putting people at the centre of design, having a single access point to all government services and creating a seamless user experience. myGov is central to all three of these pillars.”
Mr Thodey said the five-member panel will consult widely with myGov users, state and territory governments, the Australian Public Service and peak bodies to help inform the recommendations of the audit.
“I am pleased to be leading this team of diverse and very capable Australians leaders who all bring exceptional expertise to the table across a wide range of fields,” he said.
“This new audit will build on the independent review and complete the roadmap for myGov’s role in realising that vision for government service delivery.”
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