Release type: Speech


Speech - Australian Information Industry Association


The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business



Let me take you back a couple of years. On 19 November 2019, 745 days ago, to this same audience who was gathered by the AIIA, I outlined the challenges and opportunities with the Commonwealth Government’s then approach to tech and I set a runway of solutions.

In short, the challenges centered on:


  • Departments and Agencies delivering solutions to citizens, based on their structures and not on citizen needs.
  • Each Department choosing their own technology architecture, with bespoke single use applications - every child won a prize.
  • There was very little—if any—technology reuse and little coordination.
  • Government was replete with legacy infrastructure and applications.
  • There was no integrated investment approach across Government and few interconnected services that span agency boundaries, address peoples complex circumstances and life events.

In short, Government technology two years ago represented decades of incremental development by a loose federation of sole traders.

Equally, 745 days ago I also announced the Government’s runway of solutions including:

  • directing the DTA to engage with the largest technology shops – Defence, Home Affairs, ATO and Services Australia – to build a single government technology architecture.
  • mandating that government would cease to operate tech solutions along Departmental lines and instead reflect the way people and businesses actually live, work and operate.
  • I laid a vision to build the single front door for the citizen based on the myGov platform that would provide the single platform for citizens to engage with their Government.
  • Services Australia would commence to transform service delivery with a focus on automated systems; and
  • Government would embrace an integrated technology and investment plan based on reuse, a set architecture and the citizen at the centre.

In the last exhausting 745 days since, we have delivered on all of this runway and more.


Today I wish to outline in more detail:

  • What has been delivered.
  • What is continuing to be delivered, and
  • To announce the policies that will support the Government’s vision for the future of our national ICT infrastructure.

What has been delivered

Firstly—or rather centrally—the role of the DTA has changed, as I am sure many of you have noted. It has ceased being a builder of tech and is now the lead Agency for Digital and Tech Strategy, Architecture, Policy, Process, Procedures and Procurement. This means the DTA has a significantly refocused mandate to provide government with the best strategic advice, oversight and assurance across the breadth of our entire digital estate. 

The DTA is providing me with a whole of government perspective on emerging digital tech including approaches to AI and Robotic Process Automation. The DTA is also working to explore new approaches to providing transparency for citizens into how their entitlements and interactions are calculated.

The Agency has moved into PM&C and so gains a true whole of government vantage point—all while remaining responsible to a single Cabinet Minister with policy responsibility for all Digital and Data policy within the Commonwealth Government.

Supporting me and leading the DTA is its new CEO—Mr Chris Fechner—who has been appointed to drive the new Agenda. He brings proven and strong leadership to the DTA, to ensure it delivers on the Government’s ambitious agenda, with an unrelenting focus on delivering real benefits for all Australians.

The DTA, along with Services Australia is leading our transformation of myGov. Our vision by 2025 is for myGov to become the world leading, national digital platform that delivers simple, helpful, respectful and transparent services that meet the needs and expectations of all Australians.

We invested over $200 million in the last Federal Budget alone to deliver a better, more tailored myGov that makes it easier for people to discover, access and manage the government services they need.

The new myGov will enter the final stage of Beta testing in 10 days, including an app. We have listened closely to our customers to incrementally design and deliver a modern, flexible and personalised platform. I look forward to it rolling out more widely, including as an app, next year.

The platform will be the basis for our tell-us-once approach and service delivery.

We know people are fed up with having to fill in multiple forms, providing the same data again and again across multiple services, instead of government prefilling the data and enabling them to verify its accuracy, like we do with the myTax service.

With over 20 million accounts, myGov is the place most people go to access government services. It is now a key piece of national infrastructure. I want it to be the best experience it can be for Australians.

The Government has invested heavily in Digital Identity, as a critical piece of digital infrastructure which now supports more than 5.8 million Australians and 1.3 million Australian businesses and provides safe, secure and convenient access to over 80 government services online.

We have worked closely with the private sector to ensure the digital identity system and providers, where possible, are built to operate within the same rules and regulations.

We want to do more though. To prepare and encourage business participation in the digital identity system, from Monday, the DTA will commence market consultation aimed at increasing awareness of the system and the accreditation process.

As part of this consultation, from next week businesses will be invited to register their interest via the Digital Identity website, sharing the service or services they would like to provide or access in the system.

By registering their interest, businesses will open a direct pathway into the Governments Digital Identity program – enabling them to find out how the system might benefit their business and customers, how and when they can participate in the system, and how they can contribute to the governance and operation of the system.

While we work on important enabling legislation, I encourage businesses to register their interest, and engage constructively.

This will ensure we can continue to develop and enhance a genuine economy-wide system that provides better identity security, easier and secure access to services, and improved and more efficient interactions for people and businesses.  

We have also connected Digital Identity to myGov, removing the need to remember complex passwords so that Australians can securely access services the same way they do with their bank.

More than 1.1m people are already taking advantage of this simple, secure way to log into myGov. 

To really deliver on its promise as a productivity booster, we have to enable Digital Identity to be available across the economy, by providing a clear and trustworthy way to prove who you are, no matter what service you are trying to access. Australians can now access services requiring a higher level of identity verification through facial verification, what we call IP3 or identity proofing level 3.

This allows people to do things like create a tax file number and get access to Centrelink services entirely online. To give context, using the new online Tax File Number service with Digital Identity has reduced the time to get a tax file number from as long as 28 days down to just a few minutes. This fantastic time saving service improvement allows our citizens to much more easily enter the workforce and just get on with earning a wage.

As the demand for digital identity grows, Government needs to ensure individuals and businesses have more confidence that their personal information is protected by strong safeguards and thats why weve been developing legislation to enable Digital Identity to be used across state, territory and private sector services.

Underpinning this legislation, the Framework outlines the strict rules and standards for all providers and services within Australia's Digital Identity System. The TDIF is now considered by many as the benchmark for Digital Identity Trust Frameworks globally.

Several organisations have already been accredited under the TDIF including Australia Post, eftpos, and OCR labs, with more underway, including some of the largest financial institutions such as Mastercard.

A safe, thriving, digital economy is the best way we can grow the Australian economy. This is not possible without a safe, secure and convenient way for Australians to prove who they are online.

Digital Skills.

We’re getting the strategy and the legislation right, but what we’ve also got to get right is the digital capability and skills. Not just so all those here can employ highly-trained and capable employees, but also so the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments can bolster their inhouse expertise and capability.

Simply put, when we focus on accelerated digital transformation, we also need to focus on people because behind every piece of software or digital service is a person. A person with tech or digital skills they have learned.

Currently across the public service there are around 20,000 individuals working in digital roles but in order to scale and grow we need many more. In fact, as digital skills are at the heart of everything we do, we need to continually uplift our skills, knowledge and experience, to meet the demands of the future.

David Thodey’s review of the Public Service – “Our Public Service, Our Future” recommended that the Government undertake a digital review of the APS to understand agency digital and ICT maturity and capability.

It’s a fact of life that what gets measured gets managed. We’ve completed this review, with the outcomes currently being considered by government. The review has given us an accurate baseline measurement of digital capability across the APS, so that we can get to work on lifting it to where it needs to be. Rather than just focussing on technology as part of the review, we captured data across a broad range of capability domains including people, process, legislation and policy along with tech and data.

The Review has shown that we need to do some things differently as we continue the transformation of the APS. We need to better align the approaches of agencies to address common challenges, reducing the duplication of effort.

We need to make data more readily available and accessible to inform evidence-based decision making.

The Review also told us we are already doing some things well. The APS must continue to harness the strong, well-established relationships with key delivery partners. Thats you – industry.

The Secretaries Digital Committee will be held accountable for delivering against the capability opportunities identified in the review and I have directed the DTA to prepare and release a summary of the review’s findings, by the end of this year.

The Review is already helping support Governments strategic digital investment planning. This will reduce inefficiencies and costs for the government in both the short and long term.

Maintaining an optimal investment portfolio across our multi-billion-dollar digital estate is critical to ensuring we get every ounce of value from every taxpayer dollar that we invest. I have tasked the DTA with becoming the Governments key adviser on whole-of-government investment in digital and ICT.

The DTA will manage strategic coordination and undertake assurance for digital and ICT investments across the sector and through their whole project life cycle to ensure the Governments investments remain on track and deliver on their objectives.

This work has also informed what is being delivered today.

What is being delivered today           

Today I am announcing the launch of the Australian Government’s Whole of Government Architecture, which is available on the DTA website today.

It consists of standards, guidance, products and tools to support APS agencies to design digital capability from the investment proposal right through to implementation and the operational stages of the delivery lifecycle.

Through the Whole of Government Architecture, the DTA has worked in concert with government departments and agencies to map out all the strategic capabilities that we require as a government. They are now working towards identifying the existing digital and ICT assets across whole of government and the capability gaps we need to fill.

Its the first time its ever been done to this depth and breadth and it will grow rapidly.

In the Architecture, we are developing a Target Architecture, which will form the basis of the guidance industry and the wider sector will be able to refer to regarding the Governments investment in Australia's digital future.

Our new Architecture will support cutting waste and duplication, it will allow us to better manage the lifecycle of our critical digital assets, and it will inform investment where it is most needed.

The Architecture will give industry clear guidance on our direction, including the digital capabilities we expect to be built in a reusable way.

Today I am also announcing the Re-use policy and Catalogue, to provide agencies with a consolidated view of emerging or existing government platforms and help identify and share reusable platforms, contributing to a more collaborative and efficient government. Reuse of core tech is now a Cabinet mandated requirement.

A great example of planned reuse is the work the DTA has done with Home Affairs to develop a new Whole of Government Permissions Platform.

This is delivering a modern Digital Passenger Declaration to digitise the old paper incoming passenger card and support the reopening of our international borders. This is a great example of how Government and industry can move at speed to support Australians.

Equally important of course is this capability is being designed to be reusable by other agencies—reusable by design—to deliver similar services, like visas, or potentially import/export permits. This is the future for tech development across government.

Today I also announce the creation of the Whole Of Government Digital and ICT Oversight Framework, providing oversight of digital and ICT investments across the entire project lifecycle through increased strategic planning, prioritisation, contestability and delivery assurance.

The framework will provide the Government with:

  • Strategic planning of its digital and ICT investments based on a thorough understanding of the APSs existing digital and ICT capabilities, as well as its future digital and ICT investment needs.
  • A multi-year investment plan that provides advice on what digital and ICT investments the Government should invest in and when the investments should happen.
  • Greater contestability and advice to Government about proposed investments to ensure digital and ICT investment proposals are consistent with whole of government digital policies and standards.
  • Strengthened assurance and confidence that proposals will deliver on the proposed outcomes and benefits.

As part of the Framework, all future digital and ICT spending proposals being brought forward to Government must comply with the following policies:

  • Digital service standards
  • Reuse policy
  • Digital sourcing framework
  • Secure cloud strategy
  • Hosting certification framework and
  • Cyber security guidelines

In addition, all proposals must contain an assurance plan signed off by the DTA and the relevant department.

Lastly, the ICT Investment Approval Process – which the DTA has assumed responsibility from the Department of Finance on 1 July 2021 – will provide an additional important institutional level for the Government to monitor high cost or high risk digital and ICT-enabled investment proposals, and ensures these proposals align with whole-of-government digital policies from the earliest point in the policy development process.

Future digital and ICT proposals that require an assurance plan must be signed off by the DTA and the relevant department. The Finance Minister and I will agree on the digital investments that will inform the Budget.

The ICT Investment Approval Process provides an important institutional lever for the Government to monitor high cost or high risk digital and ICT-enabled investment proposals, and ensures these proposals align with whole-of-government digital policies from the earliest point in the policy development process.

I can also announce the Government is trialing the use of Cyber Hubs. The Cyber threat is so pervasive that all 14 Government Departments and 80 odd Agencies are not capable of dealing with this threat by themselves. Accordingly, we are trialing the approach of developing 4 Cyber Hubs to protect all of our Departments and Agencies. These are envisaged to be within Services Australia, Tax, Defence and Home Affairs. They will revolve around 42 core cyber requirements and will be based on the world leading 24/7 Cyber Ops Centre that has been developed in Services Australia over the past three years.

This is designed to make the Australian Government one of the most secure service delivery Governments in the world.

I can also announce Government has endorsed the Hosting Certification Framework as mandatory for all Government Departments and Agencies and they have until 30 June 2022 to comply.

All citizen data will be stored in certified data centres within Australia and any cloud provided data will be served by certified cloud providers in certified data centres within Australia. Likewise, all data that is moved (routed) must be routed within Australia. Any so-called fastest routes that go through exchanges such as Shang Hai Telecom have ceased. Government data at rest and in motion will now be exclusively within Australia.

All State and Territory digital and data ministers have been told that this is the direction of the Federal Government and for data sharing to continue this will become a requirement of the States and Territories going forward. NSW and the ACT already have all their citizen data in certified data centres.

What is the future

Today I’m also proud to announce the Government has released the Digital Government Strategy. This is a bold strategy that sets a vision that Australia will be one of the top three digital Governments in the world by 2025 and will have the foundations to retain this position into the Future.

As we work towards becoming a top 3 digital government globally, the strategy provides the guard rails for our journey. For citizens and business, they will see us stop the services that just don’t make sense, reduce duplication and remove complexity, particularly as our common architecture becomes embedded across government.

The Strategy sets out three core strategic outcomes for the Australian people:

  • All Government services will be available digitally - enabling Australians to deal with government anywhere, anytime on any device for every service
  • Easy to access. Services will be easy to use, accessible and connected so Australians can do their government business from a single-entry point
  • People and business centric - Digital services will be designed for the user with a consistent look feel and be centred around life events

Four principles will guide these outcomes, that services will be simple, helpful, respectful and transparent.

The Strategy also sets out three core outcomes that the APS will deliver against:

  • Architectural alignment - we will uplift the digital ecosystem to one of connected platforms and services within the architecture.
  • Reuse and Invest - A culture of reuse is backed by modern digital capabilities delivering value for money through robust investment processes.
  • Digital Workforce - we will build a government fit for the digital age, empowered by digital skills, capabilities and tools.

This will all be supported by the critical enablers of security, privacy, data and governance.

This is a bold endeavour that builds on the last three years of substantial transformation. This will require serious leadership and investment:

  • Approximately 47% of Government agencies have digitised all their public facing services, in the EU it is 78%.
  • Only 21% of Government critical systems were designed for reuse - going forward every capability must be considered for reuse.
  • Around 28% of Government critical systems are legacy.

Importantly we will measure performance using the OECD digital Government index. There will be nowhere for Departments to hide or for industry not to deliver.


Everything Ive talked to you about today is driving toward a vision of digital acceleration that is relentlessly focussed on people, whose services are organised around their needs.

There is no part of government that is exempt from these goals.

To achieve them, every Department, every agency and indeed each and everyone here today must be pulling in the same direction, and with full support from the Government—it will be our laser-like focus to make sure that happens.

To draw on what I said in my last speech, the last two years had vindicated the Governments ambitious agenda, which is embracing a digital mindset to upend the way government has traditionally worked, to instead reflect the way people and businesses actually live, work and operate.

Digital is about more than just technology. It is about applying the best processes, culture, business models as well as technologies to respond to raised—and now accelerated—expectations.

It is work that has and will continue to touch the lives of every Australian.

I look forward to working with you as we strive to deliver better government and better services for Australians.

Thank you.