Businesses and consumers have the most to gain from an integrated approach to e-government, according to an ACS report highlighting a range of benefits.

The report Introducing Integrated e-government in Australia was produced by The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in conjunction with ACS.

The report, released at River City Labs in Brisbane last week, is authored by Dr Arvo Ott; Executive Director of the e-Governance Academy, Fergus Hanson; Head of International Cyber Policy Centre, and Jelizaveta Krenjova; Project Manager at the Estonian e-Governance Academy Foundation.

“An integrated Australian e-government would mean reduced transaction costs and the opportunity to save time for businesses and citizens through seamless engagement with all levels of government. The ease with which citizens can access government services also contributes to increased transparency, engagement and ultimately increased trust in government. We can learn lessons from countries like Estonia and Denmark, where e-government is a national priority and efficiencies gained have lifted their annual GDP,” said ACS president Yohan Ramasundara.

“That’s not to say that joining up three tiers of government in Australia will be easy, however it’s integral to high-functioning governments in contemporary economy.”

The report details solutions for the development of integrated e-government in Australia.

“With the history of the failed Australia Card, and scandals such as eCensus, it’s no wonder that barriers such as security and privacy have interfered with the successful launch of integrated e-government up until now. However, the time has come for the Australian government to launch detailed consultations across all three tiers of government, and with business and the public, to make this happen,” said Fergus Hanson, Head of the International Cyber Policy Centre.

“The e-government model will need to be customised to Australia’s unique circumstances but should be designed to reduce business transaction costs, allow citizens to engage seamlessly with the federal, state and local governments and prioritise citizens’ control and ownership of their data. It should allow different government departments to communicate seamlessly. A decentralised architecture should be used to ensure there’s no single point of failure and to allow easy and secure integration with existing digital government platforms.”

According to the report, the federal government is well placed to take the lead by enabling key systems in order to be successful such as:

  • A digital identity (eID) for all Australians.
  • The legal, organisational and technical preconditions for a digital signature—legislation should ensure that the digital signature has equal legal weight to a traditional handwritten signature.
  • Secure data exchanges between different government IT systems.
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