Digital Transformation Office teams with UK to share technology know-how


Australian and UK governments finalise a “Memorandum of Understanding” to fast-track digital services. Agreement runs for five years and supports a sharing of expertise and staff.

The Australian Digital Transformation Office (DTO) has finalised a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the UK’s Digital Government Service under moves to fast-track digital services across all levels of government.This MOU runs for five years and is being reviewed annually by both organisations.  This agreement helps the signatories strengthen collaboration in the digital space.

While light on the finer details, the organisations say they have agreed on the “common goals” driving the business of digital government. The aim is to expand public services, nurture economic growth, and leverage the industry’s open source and software solutions.

The UK and Australian governments are sharing their “information and experiences” on core areas that reflect the charter of the high-profile Digital 5 members. This global network features front-line stakeholders that banding to strengthen the digital economy.  

Areas of interest incorporate tailoring services around end-user needs, fast-tracking the uptake of open standards, building better connectivity and teaching code to school age children. Among the initiatives, the two countries will communicate and exchange information through the secondments of staff. They also collaborate with other institutions on joint projects.

Paul Shetler, the Digital Transformation Office’s CEO, said Australia is perfectly positioned to be a world-leader in digital transformation. “This MOU cements our plans, and outlines some of the opportunities to share expertise and work on common problems together, that will help bring that vision to life.”

He said a combined effort transforms services across the public sector. “And I’m very much looking forward to the opportunities that will arise from this MOU, giving our staff and staff from other government agencies the chance to benefit from this shared knowledge and experience.”

Earlier, Liam Maxwell, Chief Technology Officer for the UK Government  visited the DTO’s Canberra office to sign the MOU and formalise arrangements between the two organisations.

According to Maxwell, the MOU builds upon a long-tradition of collaboration between the UK and Australian governments. “The GDS was founded in 2011 so we’ve had a little more time to progress along on the path to digital reform,” he said. “However, I’m genuinely impressed and excited to see the work that’s been done by the Digital Transformation Office in such a short period of time, and can’t wait to see what comes next.

“This MOU means we’ll be working more closely together throughout that next phase and beyond. The UK is, of course, a founding member of the Digital 5, and I do think – and look forward to the day when – we can become a Digital 6, with the inclusion of Australia,” he said.

The signing of the Australian-UK MOU follows similar agreements the UK has signed with New Zealand, Estonia, South Korea and the US. Last year, the UK handed over the presidency of the D5 to Estonia. The D5 was set up by the UK in 2014. It brings together the world’s most digitally advanced nations to explore and share new and better ways of providing excellent digital government services. 

The members of the group, the UK, Estonia, South Korea, New Zealand and Israel, have been building the foundations for digital government. This includes designing services around users’ needs and sharing open source solutions.