The Departments of Human Services (DHS) and Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) are dusting themselves off today after being declared joint winners of the National Archives inaugural Digital Excellence Awards in the wake of a report which was highly critical of public sector digital performance.
DHS and DIBP both took out the large agencies category; DHS for its range of digital payment and service channels, including its online claims, document lodgement and appointments systems and much maligned digital apps and Immigration for its ImmiAccount self-service digitised visa application service.
The National Archives of Australia has been pushing Commonwealth agencies hard over the past year to get their digital assets in order as part of a mandate that compels agencies to move from handing over paper-based information to the Archives to storing it electronically instead.
It was a chink of light in a cold dark world for the Australian public sector, which was lambasted earlier in the week by an Ernst and Young (EY) report, Digital Australia: State of the Nation, for providing a “poor” digital experience for citizens and businesses.
The excoriating report also said that almost a third of citizens blamed the public sector for providing their worst digital experience and said there was a “lack of political and financial commitment” to improving this experience.
The National Archives named other standout digital stars or “public service trend setters” as they were labelled including the Federal Court of Australia, for pioneering the electronic court file in Australia and the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator, which won plaudits for introducing an electronic document and records management system.
The Australian Crime Commission and the Parliamentary Budget Office were highly commended.
Competition criteria included: meeting citizens’ needs, improving efficiency and productivity, meeting international standards in digital records management and the business benefits of better information management.
Director General of the National Archives David Fricker said the new awards should encourage agencies to enhance their digital information management skills.
“I see these winning projects as being a great inspiration to other agencies,” Mr Fricker said.
“We recognise that not all agencies are able to totally transform their existing records management practices, but even incremental improvements are important.
“This award process enables us to identify what successful Commonwealth agencies are doing – many within their existing budgets – and how others might benefit from their experiences.”
Since the damning EY report when public the NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet has defended his state’s digital track record, pointing to Service NSW centres. Service NSW recently won an international award for connected government at the 12th FutureGov conference in Malaysia – which brings together public sector practitioners from across the globe.
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