Digital technology has made it possible for all parts of the service to respond more effectively to the pandemic. Many digital services were delivered in record time to record numbers of Australians without interruption as the health orders transitioned the workforce from office to home.
Digital technologies and techniques together with open data are fundamental to agile and responsive public policy solutions and vital to supporting Australia’s economic recovery. As the ambition for rapid digital transformation amplified across the APS throughout 2021, the Secretaries Board took action to avoid siloed approaches to digital governance and investment.
The Secretaries Digital Committee has been established to promote an enterprise approach to ICT and digital investment, and support the shared use of digital capabilities, ensuring decisions across Australian Government entities are made for the long term.
The committee held its first meeting in September 2020.
The Machinery of Government move of the DTA to the central Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio in April 2021 strengthened the DTA’s mandate and placed concentrated attention on ICT and digital strategy, investment and assurance across the APS. The Machinery of Government change also moved the Digital Professions function to the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) to help lift digital capability across the APS.
Work continues to baseline APS digital and ICT capabilities, prioritise and plan investments, and promote whole-of-government reuse opportunities. The DTA recently completed a review of digital capability across 20 agencies responsible for the majority of Government’s most significant digital services. While this review identified positive levels of digital maturity across a range of capabilities, there are areas of improvement to strengthen the digital performance of the APS and digital posture of the Australian Government. Many of these reforms are underway, with a particular focus on upskilling public servants, including senior leaders, in digital skills and leading transformational change.
In 2020, Australia’s e-government development was ranked as 5th in the world by the United Nations E-Government Survey.9 The Australian Government’s twin Digital Economy Strategy and Digital Transformation Strategy reflect the need for the APS to accelerate the scaling of digital infrastructure and skill the workforce to be a leading digital economy and society by 2030.
9United Nations. (2020). E-Government Survey 2020: Digital Government in the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development. n.d.