Strong business demand for AUSKey: Fed Govt

21,000 businesses have signed up since May for the government's single sign-on for online services

More than 21,000 Australian businesses have signed up to the AUSkey initiative since 17 May launch, according to the Federal Government.

As reported by Computerworld Australia the initiative sees the use of an encrypted software key to save time dealing with up to 12 State and Federal government agencies for financial reporting and to access services.

The key replaces the need to separately log into online government services with a user name and password, and will be integrated into commercial software to provide businesses with a point of access to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) portals, its electronic commerce interface, and the Australian Business Register.

It will also allow reports to be lodged to the ATO, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and all state and territory revenue offices from July, and other government agencies are expected to sign-on.

The ATO designed the key, available in administration and standard versions, in conjunction with government and industry under the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) initiative.

According to the SBR site, SBR-enabled software will become progressively available from July 2010 and will only be available to businesses who register for an AUSkey.

In May, the SBR said it reached two major milestones with the release of the AUSkey online security credential and the launch of an SBR-enabled software product.

The SBR initiative itself is aimed at reducing the business-to-government reporting burden through removing unnecessary or duplicated information from government forms and using business software to automatically pre-fill forms.

It also sees the adoption of a common reporting language, based on international standards and best practice and provision of an electronic interface to agencies directly from accounting software, which will also provide validation and confirm receipt of reports.

The AUSkey facilitates this through providing a single secure online sign-on for users to all agencies involved.

In May Linux users expressed their disappointment with AUSkey over compatability issues.

Australians adopting e-gov services

Commenting on the release of the Interacting with Government: Australians' use and satisfaction with e government services – 2009 report earlier this week, Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner said four out of five people would now prefer to contact government by Internet or phone rather than in person.

“The latest study confirms the significance of online information and services and provides further evidence that new technologies can assist governments to reach out and engage with citizens,” Tanner said in the forward to the report.

“The study also shows that there are still opportunities for government to improve delivery of e government services. Australians have positive perceptions of online government services, but also expect that government will keep pace with technology changes in service delivery.

“The challenge and opportunity for government is to respond to these changes as people’s experiences with the internet continue to shape their expectations for government service delivery.”

According to the report, convenience is the dominant motivator in using the Internet for accessing government services due to its shorter time to access a given service, and ability to access a service at a time that suits the user.

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