DTA: Agencies need our guidance to interpret Data & Digital Govt Strategy

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has sought a more active role in supporting government agencies with interpreting and implementing its Data and Digital Government Strategy.

The Data and Digital Government Strategy outlines a vision for delivering simpler, more secure and more connected public services for citizens and businesses by enhancing government agencies’ data and digital capabilities.

A key aim of the DTA is to align these capabilities across federal government agencies.

According to the DTA, the implementation plan should provide practical, frequently updated guidance and performance metrics to agencies while the Digital Transformation Agency itself could support agencies in understanding and embedding strategic thinking early and often.

The Agency said that this state had no defined edges, and planning for digital or ICT initiatives could start months or years before being brought forward for a decision. The DTA added that it is currently working with the Department of Finance to release its first-ever Data and Digital Government Strategy.

“A strategy is only as good as its implementation. Agencies shouldn’t feel they have to interpret the Data and Digital Government Strategy on their own,” the DTA said.

A draft strategy was published in May 2023 for consultation and feedback, with the final version set for release by the end of the year.

DTA noted that the Strategy would underpin works at every stage of the Investment Oversight Framework.

“For example, at the second state of prioritisation, new initiatives will be assessed against the strategy’s commitment to people and business as the centre of digital transformation.

“An agency might want to consider how well their proposal serves this outcome and performs on the criteria of ‘ease of individuals’ engagement with Government’ and ‘efficiency for business, industry and other organisations’,” it said.

The Data and Digital Government Strategy is not the only whole-of-government initiative that impacts how agencies might plan their investments, with the Federal Government committing to the APS Reform agenda, the Cyber Security Strategy 2023-30, and a review of the Privacy Act 1988.

“These, amongst other reviews and a tightening fiscal environment, all shape the Commonwealth’s priorities and investments in data and digital,” the Agency stressed

“Tracking our achievements against a set of published criteria on an annual or bi-annual basis will provide us with more clarity on proposals that need to be prioritised to fill gaps where strategic outcomes are being under-serviced,” said DTA branch manager for strategic planning Lauren Mills.

The Agency expects to release its final strategy by the end of 2023. This, it added, will be accompanied by an implementation plan, produced by the DTA and the Department of Finance, to guide agencies on how their plans and investments can deliver on the Strategy’s vision.

“It will be an iterative document, updated to support budget cycles, providing up-to-date clarity, transparency and success stories on how the Australian Government is delivering upon the Strategy’s outcomes,” the Agency said.

DTA provides advice on digital opportunities and supports the management of these investments through the Investment Oversight Framework (IOF) and Strategic Planning is the first of the IOF’s six states and articulates the single vision for the Government’s digital and ICT.