e-Government: How Can Australia Become 'Digital by Default'?

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The newly published National Commission of Audit has recommended the federal government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott's reign to establish e-Government outlining the path toward accelerated transition to online service delivery.

The COA Recommendation 62 stipulated the setting of ambitious digital strategy that creates myGov a default means of engaging with the government and supported by "opt-out" provisions. This sets concrete savings targets, removes legislative barriers and strengthens the myGov online credential.

It also pointed out the need to consolidate the e-Government effort through a single team under the leadership of a chief digital officer and the appointment of a senior minister to champion the digital by default agenda.

With the political arm of the COA report, there is the need to carefully consider the e-Government platform for all services especially that is often preferred method by citizens, businesses and other government customers because of its convenience, low-cost and accuracy.

Along with the continued shift to cyber delivery of services is Australia's vulnerability to cyber attacks that could potentially compromise private information, illegally access confidential authorities and interrupt precarious services.

According to the CSIRO report launched at the CeBIT cybersecurity conference in Sydney, the Australia's future will be at stake if cyber defense fails to keep up with rapid digitization over the next decade. CSIRO's warnings include mass blackouts, fraudulent healthcare on a massive scale and persistent offline scenes of online services which could possibly amount to AU$16 billion by 2023.

The organization also outlined several points that need to be viewed as a shared responsibility among all stakeholders who has a part in the security of the overall digital ecosystem for the country to be digital by default.

Among the points stressed in the report include the commitment to improved education and training to make users aware of the risks and consequences of their actions, improved software and system design that integrates effective security as naturally and invisibly as possible and new technologies to prevent and respond to future cyber-threats.

Beyond the CSIRO recommendations is a bigger challenge for the Australian government, research community and industry to integrate their knowledge, ideas and resources in a collaborative environment that would greatly enhance the country's digital identity systems.

In turn, the advanced technologies and innovation need to be applied to the people, process and technology solutions to make the country truly digital by default so that future cyber attacks in Australia's e-Government can be prevented.

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