Govt heightens digital focus, launches secure cloud strategy

Keenan details cabinet committee, new DTA-developed cloud strategy

A cabinet committee will focus on ways to further digitise government services and move towards “a 24/7 government that everyone can access from anywhere,” while a new strategy will help further public sector adoption of secure cloud services, according to Michael Keenan who today made his first major address as the minister overseeing digital transformation efforts.

Keenan, who late last year was appointed human services minister and minister assisting the prime minister for digital transformation, revealed details of the initiatives in remarks prepared for the Indonesia–Australia Digital Forum.

Cabinet’s new Digital Transformation and Public Sector Modernisation Committee will be chaired by the minister.

“Today, I’m happy to announce the release of a Secure Cloud Strategy that will guide Australian government investment in cloud going forward,” Keenan said in his remarks.

“Transitioning to cloud technology will allow us to explore common platforms, remove the need for big upfront investments and reduce the amount of maintenance required for services to ‘keep the lights on’.”

The new document, developed by the Digital Transformation Agency, will act as a successor to the 2014 government cloud strategy. The document is available from the DTA website.

“The strategy is designed to support agencies looking to adopt cloud services, and address the barriers and security concerns around moving to cloud,” Keenan said.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel for every individual agency to access cloud-based services and a whole-of-government approach will save time and money.”

Keenan said the government is working to make sure it gets value for money from its ICT spend, including through its revamp of procurement policy, which has capped contract value, and its efforts to “level the playing field” for SMBs.

“We are going to have a more coordinated approach to procurement of ICT products and services, including negotiating whole-of-government procurement arrangements to reduce costs,” the minister said, noting the whole-of-government purchasing arrangement with SAP Australia that was announced in October.

“As part of SAP’s portfolio of services, a similar arrangement with Concur has also recently been executed to provide cloud based travel and expense management solutions to government,” Keenan said.

“This strategic arrangement is another step towards simplifying ICT procurement and saving the taxpayer money.

“Under this new arrangement, the Australian government is expected to achieve savings of up to $54 million over the next four years.”

In his remarks, the minister cited what he said were examples of the progress made in digital transformation of government services, including the 2015 launch of the Digital Transformation Agency, the DTA-led development of the Digital Service Standard, and a number of online platforms including myTax and myGov.

Keenan didn’t mention some of the government’s less-well-received technology endeavours including the online Census and the release of supposedly anonymised health data that could be re-identified.

However, the minister acknowledged that the government still has a long way to go.

“For instance, there are currently more than 44 million items of content on federal government sites in Australia, and more than 1200 federal government websites,” Keenan said.

“Research shows that around 40 per cent of Australians will experience a problem accessing and using government services.”

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Tags governmentcloud computingdigital transformationDigital Transformation Agency (DTA)

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