Web 2.0 technologies and updates to the australia.gov.au website are key to creating an open government and facilitating easier government services for citizens, according to a report into the Australian public service.
The Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of Australian Government Administration report, released by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet this week, recommends nine overall reforms to reduce red tape and increase transparency between government agencies, citizens and businesses.
The report is the first move by the Federal Government to implement recommendations set out by the Government 2.0 Taskforce's report released in December last year.
The taskforce's report urged government agencies to "do better" by adopting Web 2.0 technologies such as forums, blogs and wikis on websites in order to achieve a "more consultative, participatory and transparent government".
However, as recently as this month, no information had been released as to whether these recommendations would be implemented.
The new report from the Prime Minister's department recommends agencies "expand and integrate the range of services available to citizens through their preferred approach", whether online, mobile or through face-to-face interaction.
Government agencies are also encouraged to begin communicating directly with citizens through "Web 2.0 approaches" such as online policy forums and blogs. According to the report, this would ensure "citizens become active participants involved in government, rather than being passive recipients of services and policies". However, the report doesn't detail how this would be implemented in websites, and whether this is mandated for government agencies.
The public service reforms could also see multiple government registration processes and logins for citizen access folded into a single portal such as the Australian Government Online Service Point. The service point - which is available on the australia.gov.au website - already provides a single point of access to Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services but would potentially see even more Federal Government agencies involved.
Business-to-government reporting would be made easier through software that allows businesses to pre-fill forms, as well as plans to alter and build upon the government's public information datasets. The ability to automatically pre-fill forms may also be available to citizens, though this would be achieved in an online format rather than through software. According to the report, this would remove unnecessary duplication of information amongst government agencies.
The report's reforms were based upon submissions from the advisory group as well as a benchmarking report submitted by KPMG which compared the Australian public service sector's performance with Canada, Denmark France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the US.