Priorities of the Digital Transformation Agency

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At a recent AIIA luncheon, the new CEO of the Digital Transformation Agency discussed the DTA priorities for the future. These priorities are now formalised in the newly released Digital Transformation Strategy.

DTA priorities

The Australian Information Industry Association recently hosted the newly appointed CEO of the Digital Transformation Agency, Randall Brugeaud, to discuss the DTA priorities and his aims for the agency in the immediate term.

The importance of closer relationships

His opening comments were perhaps amongst the most important, when he acknowledged the need for the DTA, and government agencies, to build closer relationships with industry. These closer relationships, must, he stated, be aligned to the priorities of the Agency. And, while this is not earth shattering, it’s a fact that I see many businesses ignore when trying to engage with government. Businesses will get the best return on their engagement with government when they take the time to understand government priorities and align their service offerings to those priorities. If they don’t they may not get the meeting, or worse, waste government government’s time and create a poor impression of their business.

The Digital Transformation Agency

A short introduction: The Digital Transformation Agency was created in 2015 to assist federal government departments and agencies to undergo digital transformation. Since then the role has grown to include a central oversight of the government’s ICT agenda which also includes:

  • working in partnership with government agencies to improve how they buy and deliver digital services
  • improving the way government buys and uses technology
  • using agile methods to deliver and continuously improve services for users
  • helping to build digital skills capability across government
  • developing products and platforms for government agencies that can be reused
  • advising government about digital service delivery and shared platforms, and
  • providing greater transparency on ICT projects, costs, risks and opportunities.

Each state has its own version of a DTA to drive government’s digital agenda.

DTA priorities and insights

The DTA is a people-centred organisation focused on driving human-centric digital transformation. This is not different from many government agencies, where focus has very much moved to building systems and processes that lead to enhanced levels of service delivery to us, the customer.

However, as a small organisation the DTA understands the importance of working towards, and staying focused, on key priorities. These priorities are then what determines the actions and activities of the agency.

The top four

Randall Brugeaud outlined the following four key DTA priorities:

1. Build and support a digital transformation strategy and roadmap with the following pillars:

  • A government that’s easy to deal with (from a digital perspective)
  • A government that’s informed by its citizens, and
  • A government that’s fit for the digital age in terms of services, data management and capability.

2. Increased digital capability that includes people and procurement. Opportunities to increase digital capability include:

  • Build capability, for example through training
  • Borrow capability, for example through academia and research institutions, and
  • Buy capability, through industry partnerships.

3. Create whole-of-government digital platforms; for example a branch exists in DTA dedicated to the MyGov Platform

4. Investment and portfolio oversight, that includes risk and governance of investment decision making and project delivery.

In delivering against these four priorities the DTA will continue to adhere to the 13 actions in the digital service standard. The digital service standard ensures digital teams build government services that are simple, clear and fast. All federal government services which were designed or redesigned after 6 May 2016 fall within the scope of the standard and must be assessed against it.

DTA and industry

The DTA wants to forge closer relationships with business, including with small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and make government more accessible for businesses. The focus on procurement reform and need to build, borrow and buy capability is testament to this. These are great priorities and why Mia is so supportive of the informal DTA/SME group that we wrote about recently.

And while procurement reform initiatives are important, Randall Brugeaud        stressed the importance for all departments and agencies (not just the DTA) to embrace procurement reform and create more opportunities for SMEs rather than traditionally retaining large incumbents as a risk mitigation strategy. Accordingly, the DTA is in the process of dealing with federal departments and agencies on a one-on-one basis to understand opportunities that can be separated from long-term contracts and offered to SMEs.

Connectedness

One of Randall’s final discussion points was the importance of governments better collaborating within a jurisdiction and across jurisdictions. An Innovation Minister’s forum has been established to kick off this collaboration, and Mia absolutely supports this. Technology must have bi-partisan support that includes a will to work across state and federal boundaries to share platforms and opportunities. One example I offer is citizen identity, a project that should be run at a federal level with state support, but not state by state.

Under the banner of collaboration, governments must also build capabilities that embrace open source, open platforms, open data and open design. This is when we will really begin to achieve efficiencies and innovation.

The key to success

The success of the opportunities being pursued by the DTA is highly dependent on government’s ability to capitalise on them. Capability uplift needs to address government’s risk attitude to ICT enabled projects; running and governing ICT enabled projects; the ongoing thorny issue of government procurement and the ability for governments to engage with the market in a reasonable manner while giving sensible consideration to probity.

Success also depends on the ability of business to engage with agencies in a meaningful and effective manner, aligned to the DTA priorities, while ensuring industry actions are not compromising that agency.

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