Major review of Australia’s government service platform launched

By on 25/09/2022 | Updated on 25/09/2022
David Thodey
Businessman David Thodey has returned after leading an influential review of APS to chair an audit of the government's flagship digital service platform

David Thodey, the Australian businessman who spearheaded an influential review of the Australian Public Service (APS), is to lead an audit of the government’s myGov site.

Launched in 2013, MyGov is Australia’s largest authenticated digital platform. It has 25 million linked accounts and typically records more than a million sign-ins every 24 hours. Providing Australian citizens with key support and services, it was instrumental in the Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of the audit is to identify areas where myGov’s reliability and functionality could be improved for a better user experience.

Thodey will head up a panel of experts that includes Ed Santow, Australia’s human rights commissioner, Australia’s eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant, social epidemiologist Emily Banks and Amit Singh, ex head of Uber’s global economic policy team.

Read more: Australian agencies ‘struggling to make data-driven decisions’

The audit is also expected to involve consultations with the public service and users of myGov, as well as states, territories and relevant peak bodies or special interest groups.

Thodey said in a statement that he was “pleased to be leading [a] team of diverse and very capable Australian leaders”, adding that each offered exceptional expertise across a range of fields.

The panel will report on its audit by the end of 2022. A two-year programme currently in play to improve the government site meanwhile is expected to conclude midway through next year.

Leading Australian Public Service review

Formerly the CEO of Australian telecommunications firm Telstra, Thodey led a 2019 independent review of the APS, now referred to the ‘Thodey Review’. The review, commissioned by former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, was considered the most significant review of the APS in 40 years of government.

Among the review’s findings were several ways in which APS was deemed “ill-prepared to grasp the opportunities of the future”. The review also criticised APS for lacking “a clear unified purpose”, a problem it attributed in part to APS’s excessive internal focus. The report also highlighted “long-running underinvestment in the APS’s people, capital and digital capability”, as well as a siloed culture resulting in “rigid hierarchies and bureaucratic rules [that] create barriers to effective delivery”. The review set a precedent for reforms to public services in Australian government.

In 2021, another independent review of hierarchies within the APS recommended that senior structures be brought up to date, and that APS invest “urgently” in the capability of future leaders.

Read more: ‘Urgent’ need to streamline Australian Public Service, review finds

Bill Shorten, Australia’s government services minister, praised the recommendations in the 2019 review, saying that they constituted a fresh set of principles for applying digital technologies to attain the highest standards of service delivery.

Shorten said that the “these pillars” of service delivery outlined in the review – putting people at the centre of design, having a single access point to all government services, and creating a seamless user experience – were all important factors in the future development of the MyGov platform.

He said Thodey would bring extensive global and multi-sector experience his role as auditor, along with a strong interest in the customer-centred business transformation.

Touching finally on the trajectory of plans to improve digital government services, Shorten said that while significant updates to myGov had already been made “the evolution of [the platform] into a service that truly unifies government digital services — to make life easier for Australians — will be constantly improved”.

Register now: Top government transformation officials – including Canadian government CIO – to address AccelerateGov digital transformation conference in Ottawa

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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