The Digital Transformation Agency will take charge of a $92 million budget allocation in the 2018/19 financial year to accelerate the implementation of its GovPass digital identity program.
The program includes $61 million in new money for the DTA, with additional resources drawn from existing budget from the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Human Services.
It will fund the completion of digital identity pilot programs, and complete the ATO’s IDP (identity provider) platform and DHS’s ID exchange.
The DTA will test the delivery of GovPass across a range of services, including in online applications for a Tax File Number as has already been announced, and in digital health.
The funding includes an allocation of about $10 million to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to improve connectivity and scale of its Face Verification Service, in order to scale the service up to providing sub-second responses to high-volume queries.
The DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander said this will involve the building out and proving of the foundational layers like the IDP and the exchange, as well as adding additional biometric capability to the GovPass system, including state driver’s licence photos and ATO voice biometrics.
The total cost of a whole-of-government roll-out of GovPass is still not clear. While this $90 million package carries the project for the 2018/19 financial year, the budget does not include numbers across the forward estimates.
The forward funding allocations are complicated by existing funding allocations to various departments and agencies for identity programs, and negotiations between the DTA and those departments.
When the digital identity program was first embarked on nearly two years ago, the internal estimates put a whole-of-government roll-out at $300 million to $500 million although with the framework done and much of the foundational work now done, the expectation is that it will be somewhat less than this estimate.
The DTA was also given a small allocation of $700,000 for 2018/19 to investigate where blockchain technology could be used in the delivery of better government services.
Public Service Review
The Government revealed its just-announced independent review of the Australian Public Service – to be chaired by former Telstra chief and current CSIRO chair David Thodey – will cost $9.8 million over two years from the current financial year.
Mr Thodey is no stranger to a review of public service systems: in 2016 he led the review of the Digital Transformation Office that led to its reformation as the DTA, and among other things, taking responsibility for ICT procurement policy and oversight from Finance.
The review will be funded through existing resources within Prime Minister and Cabinet, with its final report expected to be made public.
Data sharing and release
Data sharing arrangements for the public sector have also been given a boost with the allocation of $20.5 million over four years for the implementation of new data governance arrangements in line with the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s 2017 report on Data Availability and Use.
A data sharing and release framework is to be developed and administered by the newly-established National Data Commissioner.
The NDC will be responsible for developing guidance of data sharing arrangements, monitoring and addressing risks and ethical considerations for data use, and managing the process for high-value assets.
Consumer Data Rights
All this free data does not come without a price-tag, of course. And it’s not cheap. The Government will provide $44.6 million over four years to establish a national consumer data right (CDR), which will ultimately allow consumers and SME’s to access and transfer their customer data from one service provider to another in designated sectors like banking and utility providers.
The funding includes $20 million over four years to the ACCC to fund the development of the scheme – determining the costs and benefits of designating sectors that will be subject to the CDR, and to develop and implement the rules that govern the CDR and the development of data standards.
The Office of the Australian Information Commission gets $13 million over four years to assess the privacy impact of a CDR, and CSIRO will get an additional $11.5 million over four years to boost its role as a data standard setter.