Victorian government unveils five-year digital strategy


Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The Victorian government will introduce staged funding for digital projects and improve its procurement process as part of a new five-year digital strategy that focuses on re-using existing platforms where possible or subscribing to existing cloud services, and developing software in-house only as a last resort.

The 2021-2026 Digital Strategy, released on Tuesday, outlines the state government’s “vision and ambition and how to realise it” around digital transformation, with a focus on investment in digital critical infrastructure and skills.

It comes after the Digital Victoria agency was established one year ago, and former Services Australia chief information officer Michael McNamara began work as its first full-time chief executive in September.

The strategy provides a plan for the state government’s digital transformation over the next five years, government services minister Danny Pearson said.

“It provides a blueprint for how we will accelerate change and invest in the digital infrastructure and skills we need to serve the people and businesses of Victoria over the next five years,” Mr Pearson said.

“We want digital to be fully embedded in how we serve the Victorian community so our people can benefit from, and be empowered by, secure, inclusive digital services.”

Government Services Minister Danny Pearson

There will be a core focus on how the Victorian government works with private tech companies through procurement and partnerships, and making this a more effective and simple process.

The digital strategy outlines a four-step approach to software selection by the state government, with a focus on reusing existing platforms where possible. If not, the government will look to subscribe to existing software, or buy it off the shelf if that’s not possible.

Only as a last resort will the state government look to build its own software, under the new strategy.

There will be staged funding for digital initiatives within government.

“This will enable us to respond faster to changes. We will take a coordinated approach to digital investments to reduce duplication, leverage buying power and build strategic partnerships,” the strategy says.

The Victorian government has pledged to consider procurement from the point of view of a range of businesses, to review and re-evaluate the internal processes for this, and simplify it where possible.

“Government procurement and partnering is a significant lever for stimulating the digital economy. Fully realising this potential relies on government being accessible and easy to do business with,” it said.

“The lack of structures for repeated, effective partnerships with other organisations to jointly achieve government objectives present challenges in engaging productively with the private sector.”

The strategy points out that 88 per cent of OECD countries have a one-stop shop portal for procurement, with most avoiding the need for re-identification.

“Digital platforms, which are the entry point into government procurement, can be difficult to engage with. Complex requirements for doing business with government can also be a significant barrier to organisations taking up key opportunities,” the strategy says.

“Some organisations can find it too complex to procure business from the Victorian government as it erodes the value of participating.”

The strategy’s objectives include for users to have effortless interactions with government services, personalisation on users’ terms, co-designed policies and a focus on digital ethics, privacy and security.

“We will cultivate an ever-expanding suite of intelligent, connected, customer-centric services supported by digital infrastructure. Hence removing the need for manual processes, no matter the contact channel they are accessed from,” it said.

“We will make privacy a key priority and provide clear policies for data sharing to keep personal information safe. We will strengthen security to give individuals, communities and businesses the confidence they need to interact digitally with government and its partners,” the strategy says.

The state government will look to “actively address” legislation and other barriers stopping the sharing of de-identified information that is in the public interest in providing easier to use services. It will also work with the states and federal government to develop a “unified and secure position on digital identity”.

Digital Victoria was established as part of the state budget last year with $195.9 million in funding.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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