Digital ID delays as awareness campaign looms

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The government’s plan to integrate its $200 million digital identity with the myGov service platform has been delayed, even as the Digital Transformation Agency prepares an awareness campaign for the scheme.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is leading the overarching digital identity project, dubbed GovPass. It is a whole-of-government way to verify identity across a range of government and private sector services. It has four key elements: the Trusted Digital Identity Framework, exchange gateway, digital identity services and service providers.

The end goal is for a federated ecosystem of digital identity providers and services, but currently only two government-funded digital identity services have been accredited: the Australian Taxation Office’s myGovID, and Australia Post’s offering.

biometric ID
Digital ID: Key milestones have not been reached, delaying the project

The program, which has cost more than $200 million across five years, hit a significant milestone earlier this year when myGovID replaced the ageing AUSkey system.

2020 was to have been a significant year for digital identity, with plans to integrate myGovID with myGov, introduce facial recognition technology, accredit private sector organisations into the scheme and rollout a broad public awareness campaign about the project.

But a number of these key deliverables have now been delayed, and it is now unclear when several of them will be launched.

The DTA had planned to integrate myGovID with the myGov platform by July this year, replacing the existing system of two-factor authentication. But this deadline has now been missed after a private beta uncovered a number of issues.

In May, the DTA tested this integration with 149 people and identified changes needed.

“A private beta undertaken earlier this year highlighted the need for some additional features to enhance the user experience before a broader public release of this functionality,” a DTA spokesperson told InnovationAus.

“Due to increased pressures and surging demand for government services, the decision was taken to delay a broader roll-out of this functionality until later this year,” the spokesperson said. “This will allow critical resources to focus on the government’s response to COVID-19.”

The DTA had also planned to conduct testing of the facial recognition aspect of the digital identity program in “mid-2020” but has confirmed that it has not yet selected a vendor to provide software for the liveliness technology.

“A decision has not been made at this time. Any announcements will be made in due course via AusTender,” the DTA spokesperson said.

Despite these setbacks, the DTA is also preparing to roll out an awareness campaign for the digital identity scheme, which to date has largely remained in the shadows, something which has been criticised in a number of Senate estimates hearings.

The DTA recently listed a new opportunity on its Digital Marketplace for the Digital Identity Communication and Engagement Stream 4. This will involve the development of a consultation paper, the public release of this paper, the implementation of a communication strategy, thought leadership in the form of media training and estimates preparation, branding, digital content and research.

The listing was only online for one day and was open to just one seller. The contract began late last week and runs until the start of October, with the option for a one-month extension.

The DTA listed a similar opportunity at the start of the year, looking for a seller to launch a communication campaign to “inform all Australians about what it is and isn’t – highlighting potential benefits it offers to everyone and especially for those who choose to make use of it”.

“Australia’s history of identity-related projects raises concern for some stakeholders and is a central consideration of the digital identity program. The design is based on the critical principles of people having choice of identity provider, privacy and security by design and being opt in,” the DTA said in January.

It is not clear whether this communications campaign was conducted.

The DTA has also recently looked to bring in contractors to work on a plan to monetise the digital identity scheme, and to assist with accrediting private companies into the ecosystem.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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