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Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency to invest in digital identity and blockchain

The recently announced Australian Budget 2018–19 will invest in technology to boost the country’s competitiveness and improve the government’s delivery of public services to citizens. Such effort also includes improving people’s experience of government services online.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) will invest A$92.4 million in the next phase of work to build Govpass, Australia’s digital identity system. According to the DTA, Govpass will provide a simple, safe and secure choice for people to verify who they are and access government services online, reducing the need to visit a shopfront.

Over the next financial year, up to 8 high-volume government services will be piloted using a digital identity, giving more than 500,000 people the opportunity to test the system. The first government services to be trialled with the digital identity system are applying for a tax file number and registering a business from October 2018.

The roll out of the digital identity system is a collective effort on multiple agencies, including: (1) the DTA to oversee the system and develop a set of rules called the Trusted Digital Identity Framework to accredit identity providers, (2) the Australian Taxation Office will be the identity provider to verify people are who they say they are, (3) the Department of Human Services will operate the technology gateway between accredited identity providers and the services people use.

At the same time, the Australian Government is also exploring innovative ways to deliver reliable and secure government services using modern technology such as blockchain.

A$700,000 is being invested to investigate the benefits of using blockchain for government services. This work will be done in 2 stages:

  1. Conduct research to understand the current maturity of blockchain, the readiness or government to adopt the technology and identify problems that blockchain might be able to solve.
  2. Develop  a possible solution for one of the problems identified in the research, and understand the potential of using blockchain to support government services.

Technology is a major focus and enabler in the Australian Government’s roadmap for the delivery of digital government services and more opportunities for Australians.

As reported earlier, the Australian Budget set aside A$41 million to set up the first national space agency and over A$36 billion to support defence technology and industry. It also pledged to support the growth of a smart economy and committed new funding for research in medical sector including the Australian Technology and Science Growth Plan and the Medical Research Future Fund.

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