The Digital Transformation Agency has been handed responsibility for developing a new visa processing system after a botched attempt to contract this job to the private sector which cost more than $90 million.
The visas and permits processing capability is a “government priority”, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said in a National Press Club address on Tuesday, with the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) leading the project.
“Government is developing a new whole-of-government permissions and permits platform which will leverage previous work in this key area, and which will deliver a modern visa and permits processing capability as a priority. This project, run by the DTA and reporting to me, is a government priority,” Mr Robert said in the speech.
The Coalition had previously attempted to go to the market for a new Global Digital Platform which would have handled the processing of visas.
This plan was widely criticised as the privatisation as a key government function. It was eventually abandoned by the government earlier this year after a series of conflict of interest issues arose and at the prospect of it being knocked back by the Senate.
The government had already poured more than $90 million into the plan, including nearly $65 million to private contractors, with the Boston Consulting Group netting more than $40 million for its work on the doomed project.
When announcing the scrapping of the plan, the government said it would instead be pursuing a “broad new approach” to the acquisition and delivery of workflow processing capability, with an “integrated, enterprise-scale workflow capability to be used across the Commonwealth, not just by Home Affairs.
This appears to be the new platform that the DTA has been tasked with building.
The government has also been working on a new “entitlement calculation engine”, which will replace the existing, 30-year-old Centrelink payments system.
The system, powered by Pega software and Infosys systems, will “increase the speed of implementation and remove friction for customers across government”, Mr Robert said.
“Imagine having a personalised dashboard so Australians can see their claims, their payments, if they have debts, and how they were raised and other services or payments and assistance available to them,” he said.
“Then, on top of that, transparency in how their government agency is monitoring and addressing their concerns.”
This platform will eventually be used by other departments, such as for veterans income support and aged care.
“Given the tried and tested scalability of the platform, the government will also be able to re-use the platform in other areas that require similar functionality – starting with aged care, and then expanding to other initiatives such as veterans income support and the modernisation of our health systems,” Mr Robert said.
“This is saving taxpayers’ enormous amounts of money, increasing the speed of implementation and removing friction for customers across government.”
Mr Robert also announced that a beta version of the new myGov update has been launched, with users able to opt to use the different platform or the existing one.
The “Horizon 1” development of the new platform – dubbed GovDXP – was built by Deloitte, which landed a deal worth more than $23 million with the DTA for the beta.
“It is a modern platform capable of scaling up to include digital identity and become a fully-fledged all-of-government customer experience,” Mr Robert said.
The minister also confirmed that facial authentication technology will be incorporated in the government’s digital identity scheme by the end of the year.
“You won’t need to worry about forgetting a credential, changing your phone number, you can use the native biometric technology on a phone and authenticate through your phone that way. And you won’t have to fear any of your credentials being stolen,” he said.