Drivers licences, births and deaths and the census could feature in myGov expansion

Drivers licences, births and deaths and the census could feature in myGov expansion

The federal government has marked significant changes to its myGov platform, acknowledging that the service is now ‘critical national infrastructure’ such as roads, hospitals or the power grid.

Key points: More than 25 million people have a myGov account in Australia, but a survey found 75 per cent of people say it needs improvements Minister Bill Shorten flags overhaul to keep up with user expectations

A review of the service found the number of myGov accounts has doubled in five years, and 1.4 million Australians use the service every day.

But while the platform is widely used, satisfaction with myGov remains low – with less than half of users generally satisfied with how it works.

The review recommended a significant and ongoing increase in funding for the platform, and new legislation to reflect its importance as a link between government and ordinary Australians.

It also argued that while the priority should be to deliver better services, high-quality digital services would also deliver savings for the government.

New features for the mobile app have also been proposed — including working with state governments to include identity documents, such as driver’s licenses.

Bill Shorten says more investment is needed in myGov to realize its potential. (ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

Government Services Minister Bill Shorten said that as myGov becomes increasingly part of the everyday lives of Australians, it is vital that it is as workable and user-friendly as possible.

“The myGov software, and the app, and the program, really needs to keep up with the expectations of Australians,” he said.

“The myGov app has the potential, this report says, to be a long-term part of how Australians engage with government.”

Usage is booming, but users are unhappy

The audit of myGov was promised before last year’s election, and promised in particular to address accidents and disruptions to the service.

The number of people using myGov has soared in recent years, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic driving demand for a range of government services.

Government figures show that more than 25 million people have a myGov account, and daily usage has tripled in the past five years.

But a survey conducted as part of the review found significant public concern about the platform, with 75 percent indicating the government needs to improve its online services.

The review acknowledged that the myGov had improved significantly, pointing in particular to the rollout of a new app late last year.

David Thodey is a former Telstra CEO and businessman. (AAP: Dan Peled)

The report’s lead author, former Telstra chief executive David Thodey, said the sheer volume of people now relying on myGov meant the government could not afford a substandard service.

“MyGov, or the delivery of government services digitally, has no longer become optional,” he said.

“It has become a critical part of how we deliver services for a modern, dynamic government going forward.”

So what is likely to change?

The government has just received the report, and will formally respond to the various recommendations in the coming months.

But the report offers a number of possible options on how it could be improved.

It points to the NSW Government’s online offerings, particularly the Service NSW digital platforms, as best practice in Australia.

And it suggests that the federal government should work with the states to bring more services together, so people can access what they need in one place from both levels of government.

Helping people manage their response to disasters, registering births and deaths, and providing access to documents such as driver’s licenses, senior cards, occupational licenses and Medicare cards were all listed as priorities.

Mr. Shorten said it was not easy to set a timeline to achieve those kinds of things, but he would like to see it.

“It’s a matter of negotiating with our allies at the state governments and getting various federal departments on board,” he said.

“It [report] is the blueprint, and what we want to do – what I’d like to do – over the next 12 months is to formulate a calendar where we can start loading maps.

“We hope to put the Medicare card on the app in March.”

It also suggests there is more the federal government could do with its own service, such as using it to register to vote, renew passports or complete the census.

Change will cost money

One of the key recommendations from the report is a significant and ongoing increase in funding for the myGov service.

The former government increased funding for myGov by $100 million a year for two years, but that arrangement expires this year.

The report proposes making that funding increase permanent, giving myGov a budget of about $138 million each year going forward.

Mr. Shorten admitted a decision would have to be made as part of the May Budget, but said it would be difficult to see the service continuing without the additional money.

“The fact of the matter is that the funding is just falling off a cliff,” he said.

“There will still be computers and applications here on 1 July 2023.

“So of course we have to deal with it, but we have to wait for the budget to deal with it.”

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