news The Federal Government’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO) has announced that it has signed an agreement with the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) that is aimed to help both organisations progress their digital efforts.
Taking effect immediately, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) will last for an initial period of five years and be reviewed (at minimum) annually.
According to the DTO, the agreement includes features that will “help build collaboration and encourage cooperation” between Australia and the UK on “matters of digital transformation”.
Firstly, the nations’ ‘agreement on common goals’ will include building digital public services to encourage public use, providing support for users with limited digital capabilities or accessibility issues, promoting economic growth and business opportunities, and encouraging open-source software and solutions.
The UK and Australia will also share “information and experiences” on key topics to reflect the charter of the Digital 5 (D5) – a network of leading digital governments set up with the common goal of strengthening the digital economy. The topics include user needs, assisted digital, open standards, connectivity and teaching youngsters to code.
Further, they will communicate and exchange information through means such as secondments of staff between the two countries and collaboration with other institutions on joint projects.
“I really believe Australia is perfectly positioned to be a world-leader in digital transformation. This MOU cements our plans, and outlines some of the opportunities to share expertise and work on common problems together, that will help bring that vision to life,” said DTO CEO, Paul Shetler.
“Our efforts to transform government services in Australia have already benefitted immensely from collaboration with colleagues across the APS, across the tiers of government, and across the globe,” he continued. “And I’m very much looking forward to the the opportunities that will arise from this MOU, giving our staff and staff from other government agencies the chance to benefit from this shared knowledge and experience.”
In a statement announcing the MOU, the DTO lauded the UK’s digital efforts to date, saying: “In fact, our own Prime Minister has said ‘if plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, then [the UK Government] should feel very sincerely flattered … ‘.”
The Office explained that Liam Maxwell, Chief Technology Officer for the UK Government, had recently visited its Canberra office to sign the MOU to formalise and strengthen the relationship between the two organisations.
Maxwell’s visit to Australia also included a series of government and partnership meetings, as well speaking opportunities, with the aim of building closer ties between Australian and UK digital leaders.
“Working more closely together can only help us in our efforts to improve the lives of the citizens in our respective countries,” said Shetler.
According to Maxwell, the MOU builds upon a long-tradition of collaboration between the UK and Australian governments.
“The GDS was founded in 2011 so we’ve had a little more time to progress along on the path to digital reform. However, I’m genuinely impressed and excited to see the work that’s been done by the Digital Transformation Office in such a short period of time, and can’t wait to see what comes next,” he said.
“And I’m very pleased this MOU means we’ll be working more closely together throughout that next phase and beyond. The UK is, of course, a founding member of the Digital 5, and I do think – and look forward to the day when – we can become a Digital 6, with the inclusion of Australia,” he concluded.
The signing of the MOU follows similar agreements the UK has signed with New Zealand, Estonia, South Korea and the US.
Image credit: DTO