Govt shunned own CMS for Adobe myGov features left idle

The federal government shunned its own website content management system in favour of Adobe when myGov was redeveloped due to its “limited functionality”, only to leave Adobe’s content personalisation features unused, according to the review of the services platform.

But work underway to improve the capabilities of the open source, Drupal-based GovCMS system through the integration of one or more digital experience platforms (DXP) could spell the end of Adobe’s reign.

The myGov user audit, published on Tuesday, is the culmination of three months’ work by a panel of experts led by business leader and former CSIRO chair David Thodey to identify reliability and usability improvements for users.

The panel has urged the government to commit long-term ongoing funding of more than $100 million a year to myGov, arguing that improvements over the last three years “fall well short of the longer-expressed vision of providing a primary digital front door”.

Image: Services Australia

The upgrade began in early 2020, when Deloitte was brought in to develop a prototype government digital experience platform (GovDXP), a highly personalised, Netflix-like digital services portal to replace myGov

In the three years since, the government entered into contracts with Deloitte and Adobe worth in excess of $80 million. In the case of Deloitte, a scathing audit of the Digital Transformation Agency last year found it approached the consultancy directly.

As revealed by last month, Adobe was also decided on as the software provider for myGov before the government had devised a business case or approached the market. It remains unclear if the DTA ever conducted a study of the software.

While stressing that the “procurement arrangements for the new myGov platform were not within the scope of the audit”, the panel outlined the government’s reasoning for opting for Adobe software in its report.

The panel said that while the GovCMS was considered, the platform “did not offer the functionality needed, particularly for content personalisation”, leading the government to purchase Adobe Experience Manager.

But the report also reveals that Services Australia is yet to begin using the content personalisation functionality that it requested more than a year after beta testing began, largely due to legislative barriers.

“Services Australia has bought a cloud software product, Adobe Target, for tailoring myGov content and functionality based on an ‘enhanced profile’ of a user. This software has not yet been used for live users,” the panel said.

“Currently, there is no legislative basis that underpins myGov’s collection and retention of information about individuals. This limits the extent to which personal information can be stored, regardless of whether consent has been provided.

“In the absence of a legislative basis, the protections for Australians are inherited from existing privacy legislation and are not tailored to the myGov environment. Without a clearer legislative basis, the future collection or storage of data in myGov, including for tailoring, will be limited.”

With Adobe’s DXP set to cost Services Australia $35.6 million between August 2021 and November 2023, the panel has suggested myGov could transition to govCMS in the future, offering “increased value for money and greater benefits for agencies across government”.

The report highlights work underway at the Department of Finance to bring DXP functionality to GovCMS. The department showcased four DXP and content personalisation proof of concepts developed by four suppliers in September.

“Once these are available, there may be opportunities for myGov to transition to govCMS. This could see future investment in myGov resulting in broader benefits for the 100+ other government organisations who use govCMS,” the panel said.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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