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OGIT to play leading role bringing Australia online

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Minister for Finance and Administration




The Office of Government Information Technology (OGIT) will play a key role in establishing Australia as a world leader in the use of information technology through the implementation of a number of the key initiatives announced today in Investing for Growth.

OGIT will be working to provide better 'whole-of-government' on-line service delivery to clients and to streamline business dealings with Government.

The Prime Minister today confirmed the Commonwealth's commitment to becoming a smart, leading edge user of the Internet and an active participant in the information economy.

The initiatives that OGIT will be playing a leading role in implementing include:

Commonwealth Government Information Centre

This Centre will be established by OGIT in partnership with industry to act as the principal entry point to Government information. It will be fully compatible with entry points designed for specific sectors of the community, thus ensuring seamless access across Government. It will provide a simple and effective mechanism for providing government information and complementing systems currently provided by

agencies. It will be responsible for the official Commonwealth Government Internet Entry Point and consist of a 'call centre' team of dedicated personnel handling voice, e-mail, internet and hardcopy inquiries.

OGIT will work with lead agencies to acquire and implement an internet search engine that will facilitate access to Government information held electronically by individual agencies. It will establish and promote standards for the holding of information in government home pages and will design and implement a home page for the centre which will link to other Government home pages.

Appropriate Services to be Delivered over the Internet by the Year 2001.

Internet delivery will complement existing agency services which provide access by telephone, facsimile, mail and counter access. OGIT will take a leading role in the facilitation of this commitment, implementing a whole-of-government consistent approach to electronic delivery and ensuring Government information is effectively catalogued and indexed to provide fast and efficient access.

Government Intranet

OGIT, in partnership with key agencies, will aim to complete the deployment of the high bandwidth, secure, private communications network in the ACT and to extend this to all major agencies in Canberra.

It will establish a secure, Government wide, Intranet environment for all intra-government communications, including voice, data, TV, multimedia and electronic business transactions.

Electronic Business

OGIT and the Department of Finance and Administration will jointly review the current Electronic Commerce platform for purchasing to verify its suitability as a vehicle for additional electronic business for government. They will consult closely with the National Office of the Information Economy (NOIE) and report by March 1998 to the Ministerial Council and to the Online Council on the implementation of electronic business in Government.

One aim is to adopt electronic payments as a normal means of payment and to encourage suppliers to use the Internet as the preferred mechanism for transmittal of invoices to the Commonwealth.

Establish a Regulatory Framework

OGIT, in partnership with key agencies, will work to ensure that the widespread use of online communication services for both industry and government is supported by a national system for online authentication. It will implement a national approach / regulatory framework to ensure consistency in use of digital signatures, reliability of systems, and interoperability of products and systems.

Management and Accountability

It will be the responsibility of O M to ensure the projects supporting the above identified initiatives are progressed in a coordinated manner, timetables are met, deliverables achieved and appropriate accountability is maintained.

OGIT will provide the direction and focus to these Commonwealth activities, whilst preserving individual agency and cross agency responsibility for projects.

To ensure that the initiatives get the strong focus and high priority required I will be appointing senior Commonwealth agency representatives to an Interagency Steering Committee, to be Chaired by the Chief Government Information Officer.

The committee will work in consultation with NOIE and will report regularly on the progress of these initiatives.

I am delighted that OGIT will be playing such a key role in the Government's commitment to the use and implementation of leading edge information technology within the Commonwealth.

Canberra 8 December 1997

Media Contact: Anna Schulze 02 6277 7400

OGIT to play leading role in bringing Australia On-line

Questions and Answers

Why is it important to be On-Line? There is a global move to adopt the Internet as the on-line way of doing business and exchanging information and services. This requires a fundamental change in the way Government's deliver services and conduct business in the future.

What will the commitment to the Internet do?

The Gvemment's objective is to have all appropriate Government services delivered over the Internet by the Year 2001.

This commitment will provide leadership to Australian business and consumers and demonstrate that the Government is seriously committed to the Information Economy.

Going online will mean a rethink about how business is conducted. Many managers think that the Internet is just an IT problem and that IT managers will simply connect the organisation to the Internet. Going on-line will require all organisations to reconsider how they conduct business and re-engineer their business processes.

OGIT will ensure that such developments in the Commonwealth Government are integrated in a whole of government approach and based on a robust framework providing improved access to Government information and on-line services, whilst being commensurate with security and privacy requirements.

How will on-line service delivery differ from traditional services?

On-line services will allow Government clients to receive information and services 24 hours a day, seven days a week at a wide range of locations. A range of technologies will allow self-service access, including phone, Internet and kiosks. Self-service will mean that there will be shorter queues in traditional shopfronts, allowing staff to provide more personalised services.

Can we trust the Internet to deliver on-line services?

OGIT is working closely with the National Office of the Information Economy (NOTE) and the Attorney General's Department to establish a Public Key Authentication Framework and associated Legal Framework. These will enable electronic signatures to be used across government and industry for secure electronic - online business transactions.

Why is the management of Government Information so important?

Decisions are only as good as the information they are based on. Government information influences every facet of our daily lives, from weather predictions through to the statistics that determine the location of government services. The Government recognises that its information is a National Strategic Resource and is committed to the establishment of a whole-of-government information management framework to ensure better, faster and more timely access to information.

What will the Commonwealth Information Centre do?

The Information Centre will provide a single point of access to Government information. It will complement, but not replace, agency based Call Centres (eg for Centrelink). OGIT will work closely with CentreLink and other key agencies to ensure full interoperability.

Fast, accurate and timely access to information is vital for our future in the Information Economy. The ability to get help and assistance to locate the most appropriate, useful information will determine our level of economic competitiveness into the next millennium.

OGIT will, in consultation with lead agencies and industry plan and implement the online Information Centre for

access to government information - using Internet, phones, fax's and kiosks. The Centre will be responsible for the official Commonwealth Government Entry Point on the Internet.

Where will the Centre be located?

With the advanced networking technology available today the Centre could be located in any area. No decision has been made about its location at this stage.

How will the Centre operate ?

The Centre will use the Internet to link to established client focussed Service Delivery Channels, such as Centrelink, and on-line catalogues of government information and services. Access will be via the Internet, by telephone, fax and written submission.

The catalogues will form part of each agencies Internet Horne Page, and will ensure that a consistent approach is applied to descriptions and terms used to describe the available information and services. Advanced search engine technology will also be an essential service provided by the Centre to ensure that information can be readily accessed across agencies.

What about Centrelink ?

The Centre will not displace current initiatives in this area by Centrelink, ATO or related activities such as the Single Entry Point to Government for Business initiative but will complement them. Full interoperability will be maintained.

What will it mean for agencies?

OGIT will work closely with lead agencies and other key agencies which are already delivering services electronically.

The Centre will provide a focus for improvements in the presentation and cataloguing of information by agencies, and the development of standards for on-line transactions.

Standards and guidelines issued by the Centre will be prepared in close consultation with Government Internet Committee.

What about the Global On-line Economy?

The Centre will open up new and innovative possibilities for providing information links in the US, SE Asia and Europe for use by Australian industry, including placing multi-language electronic centres in these locations to facilitate easy access to up-to-date government and industry information. This will make it easier for overseas organisations to do business in Australia.

Who is doing Electronic Business in the government?

The Government will review the current Transigo base Electronic Commerce activities for purchasing with the objective of extending its wider application for government electronic business.

How will this reduce paper invoicing and speed up payments?

OGIT in conjunction with Treasury, DoFA, key agencies, and the banking industry will, by the year 2000, achieve full implementation of the Financial Electronic Data Interchange (FEDI) pilot for payments to the Commonwealths' suppliers or alternatively, payments to suppliers through Direct Entry System (DES) with remittance adviees being sent to payees over the internet.

This will require agencies to operate their own bank accounts in accordance with the DoFA's requirements, and request suppliers to use the Internet as the (preferred) mechanism for transmittal of invoices to the Commonwealth.

DoFA will designate the use of Internet as the mechanism to allow suppliers to make enquires on Commonwealth systems as to the status of their payments.


Why do we need a Government Intranet?

The Government will lead by example by establishing a government-wide secure Intranet to facilitate full intra-government communications, including voice, data, TV and multi-media.

OGIT, in conjunction with lead agencies is completing the deployment of a high bandwidth, secure, private communications network in the ACT (ICON) linking all agencies in the Parliamentary precinct, replacing existing facilities used for inter-agency and intra-agency communications.

This will be extended to provide secure links to Ministerial offices, State Governments and other organisations, by securing best value rates with commercial providers. Secure gateway access to the external environment will also be used. This network will be the basis for building the Secure Intranet. OGIT will work closely with key agencies and the Defence Signal Directorate to ensure that privacy and security issues are addressed. Management of the Intranet will be outsourced to the private sector.

How will the Intranet be expanded?

Subject to approval and funding agreement OGIT will complete the extension of ICON to the wider Canberra environment to form a Canberra Local Area Network (CLAN). This work is expected to be completed within 6 months of commencement, and will be undertaken in partnership with industry.

How will Industry benefit ?

Industry participation in the ICON and CLAS projects will provide them with an opportunity to gain experience in deploying sophisticated, integrated networks and to leverage their knowledge and skills to wider markets -nationally and internationally.

How will management and accountability be achieved?

To provide an appropriate level of accountability and oversight for these initiatives, an Interagency Steering Committee will be established, chaired by the Chief Government Information Officer. The committee will review each initiative and will require the preparation of a supporting project plan which will identify resources, clear timeframes and deliverables. Secretariat services for the Committee will be undertaken by OGIT.