Australia inks Digital Government deal with UK



The federal government’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO) has never hid its persistent and shameless borrowing of successful ideas and methodologies from the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service, but the symbiotic relationship between the two transformers is taking on a more formal nature.

After strongly hinting the DTO was looking to seal a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the GDS at the recent alpha reveal of Australia’s new interface, chief executive Paul Shetler has confirmed the two agencies have pulled out pre-analogue pens and paper to officially ink the deal.

As the above photo above confirms, Liam Maxwell, Chief Technology Officer for HM Government(UK) managed to squeeze in time between pep talks when down-under last month to sign-off on what will be a more structured long-distance relationship.

Government News strongly suspects that the DTO/GDS deal will work strongly to the DTO’s advantage because it should enable considerably more pilfering of already road-tested solutions and ideas that might otherwise be reinvented locally.

And with the DTO already having demonstrated it’s prepared to look overseas to secure digital talent, it’s not unlikely that more mobile practitioners in the UK could be attracted to Australia for a stint with agencies here as the big push towards 2017 intensifies.

“I really believe 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.

“Our efforts to transform government services in Australia have already benefitted immensely from collaboration with colleagues across the APS, across the tiers of government, and across the globe,” DTO head Paul Shetler says.

“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.”
The DTO says the deal with the GDS UK includes several elements that will “build collaboration and encourage cooperation between Australia and the UK on matters of digital transformation.

They include:

  • Agreement on common goals. These include building digital public services that are so good, people prefer to use them; providing sufficient support for those who have limited digital capabilities or accessibility issues; promoting economic growth and opportunities for businesses; and, encouraging open source software and solutions.
  • Sharing information and experiences on important topics that reflect the charter of the Digital 5 (D5), such as user needs, assisted digital, open standards, connectivity and teaching children to code.
  • Maintaining communication and exchanging information through, for example, secondments of staff between the two countries and collaboration with other institutions on joint projects.

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