A crack team of bureaucrats from across the federal government has been assembled to support what is shaping up to be the most extensive audit of myGov since it was switched on more than a decade ago.
Public sector stalwart David Hazlehurst has been brought in from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to lead the five-member secretariate team, which will lend expertise to the myGov user audit panel.
The panel, announced earlier this month, consists of former CSIRO chair David Thodey, former Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, Professor Emily Banks and Uber’s former global economic policy head Amit Singh.
The panellists are tasked with reviewing the performance and user experience of myGov over 12 weeks, with the findings to be used to deliver necessary improvement to a platform that now receives a million sign-ins each day.
Mr Hazlehurst, who has had a 30-year career in the Australian Public Service (APS) and set up the then Digital Transformation Office (DTO) in 2015, is joined on the secretariate by assistant secretaries Jordan Hatch, Brendan Moon, Monita Lal and Lisa Jansen.
Mr Hatch was, until recently, digital strategy assistant secretary at the DAFF, and has also worked stints in the office of the NSW Customer Service minister Victor Dominello and Austrade since leaving the Digital Transformation Agency in 2017.
Mr Moon and Ms Lal bring extensive understanding of the inner workings of payments and service delivery to the secretariate as Services Australia’s former working age programmes general manager and myGov experience and engagement national manager.
Ms Jansen, meanwhile, has spent the last five years at the Digital Transformation Agency including as user experience lead, acting head of myGov and acting head of the digital initiatives discovery branch.
Speaking with InnovationAus.com, Mr Hazlehurst said the “broad cross-section” of senior public servants would “bring a rich set of perspectives” that extends beyond simply digital services to all aspects of service delivery.
“One important aspect that the panel will be looking at is how does myGov sit within the ecosystem of service delivery. You can’t just look at the digital services on their own. You’ve got to also be considering how they fit with the telephony and shopfront services,” he said.
The secretariat team is being “hosted and supported by Services Australia” but takes in experience from across government including the Digital Transformation Agency, the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Finance.
The team is also planning to engage state and territory government agencies, namely those providing citizen-facing digital services, although Mr Hazlehurst acknowledged that this is still yet to occur.
“We’re going to be engaging with [our state colleagues]. Whether or not we have some in the team is something we haven’t quite landed yet, but I’m hoping to reach out to them in the next few days,” he said.
With just 12 weeks to conduct the audit and the panel still to meet face-to-face, Mr Hazlehurst openly admits the timeframe – which will include a chance for the public to have their say – is “very tight”.
“We’re in week two of a 12-week process, so it’s pretty tight, and that’s helping us to think really clearly about what we can do to support the panel in that timeframe,” he said, pointing the extensive research that has been undertaken in recent years.
“We’re really mindful that there is a lot of research and analysis that’s been done already on myGov; the things it does well, the things that people find difficult and the kinds of best practice that you can see in other contexts.”
“So, in part, what we’re doing through the audit is looking at that body of knowledge and research that’s already been done including, of course, what people find hard about myGov and what they would like from myGov, opposed to what’s already there.”
While noting it was “a bit early” to discuss some of the user concerns, Mr Hazlehurst said the “rich reservoir of knowledge and feedback and known problems” included bugbears like the anxiety-inducing email-without-context from myGov.
“We don’t have any special powers [but] we don’t anticipate any difficulty in getting access to information. If anything, we’re getting access to an awful lot of information,” he said of the process so far.
Mr Hazlehurst also said the panel would look at how digital identity fits within myGov’s user experience, with users currently able to use both the government’s myGovID credential and legacy login details to access the platform.
“The panel is definitely going to be looking at [digital identity] because, of course, connecting to government services is about establishing who you are, and so digital identity is relevant to that,” he said.
“But at the moment you don’t have to have a digital identity to access to myGov services, so there’s a set of questions for the panel to unpack about the relationship between digital identity and myGov.”
Mr Hazlehurst described the recent upgrade of the platform underpinning myGov as “significant”, allowing the government to “deliver a far more contemporary and scalable set of services” and setting it up for the long-touted myGov app planned for later this year.
Last week, the national audit office revealed Deloitte was the only supply approached for a major overhaul of the myGov platform in a scathing audit of the DTA’s procurement practices. More than $45 million in contracts relating to the work has since been signed with the consulting giant.
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