On the ‘back burner’: Govt still to reveal myGov plan

The Albanese government has placed myGov on the “back burner” by not formulating a long-term plan that responds to the findings of the independent audit, according to shadow minister for government services Paul Fletcher.

In January, a panel led by former CSIRO chair David Thodey asked for a response by July 1 to its 10 recommendations to improve the online service delivery platform that has long been criticised for its poor reliability and performance.

The report, which was promised in the lead up to last year’s election, found that while Coalition government-funded updates to myGov had provided some benefits, the platform still fell “well short” of the vision of a digital front door to government.

It urged the government to commit long-term ongoing funding of more than $100 million a year to myGov in recognition that the platform had “gone from a strategically important ICT system to an indispensable part of the Australian government service delivery ecosystem”.

Canberra Parliament

Among the other recommendations was a ‘myGov Development Fund’ modelled on the New South Wales government’s Digital Restart Fund to investment in projects outside of the annual budget cycle which did not appear in the Budget.

The panel had asked the government to “demonstrate its practical commitment by publishing its response to the audit and an implementation plan by 1 July 2023” – which Government Services minister Bill Shorten made no public commitment to at the time.

But with the arrival of the new financial year over the weekend, the government is yet to respond to the inquiry or offer its long-term plan for the platform, beyond the one year of funding provided in the 2023 federal Budget to “sustain myGov” for 12 months.

Shadow minister for government services Paul Fletcher was quick to capitalise on the government inaction on Monday, saying that it smacks of a lack of interest in making service delivery more efficient for Australians.

“myGov should be a one-stop-shop for accessing services and payments, which is particularly important during this cost of living crisis, but achieve that it needs proper investment and attention from the government,” he said just days into the new financial year.

“Unfortunately, Government Services minister Bill Shorten has put improving myGov on the back burner.”

Mr Fletcher said that the single year of funding in the Budget was not enough to pull off the enhancements needed to “improve the customer experience” on the platform now responsible for 1.4 million transactions each day.

He cited economic analysis commissioned by Services Australia which estimates that completing the myGov program of work over four years would deliver net benefits of $3.2 billion over 10 years and direct savings of $158 million.

A spokesperson for Minister Shorten told InnovationAus.com the “response to the myGov user audit is currently under development in consultation with partner agencies for consideration by government”.

The opposition has begun to ramp up its criticism of the government’s digital service delivery efforts in recent weeks, with Mr Fletcher also expressing his discontent with progress to develop a national system of digital identity.

Plans to expand the digital identity system to states and the private sector have not progressed since the change of government last year, despite a series of high-profile data breaches highlighting the downfalls of storing personal information.

The government is now planning to release draft legislation for consultation later this year but has no timeline for when they might be introduced to Parliament. It had previously been understood that the laws would be before Parliament for the Spring sitting.

The DTA released its first discussion paper relating to the laws as far back as November 2020, with policy positions and draft legislation also released in 2021. However, the former government ultimately never brought on the legislation for debate prior to the 2022 election.

Last week, federal, state and territory ministers agreed to take a nationally consistent approach to identity resilience through a new strategy that directly responds to the Optus and Medibank data breaches last year.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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