Australia’s Digital Transformation Office and the UK’s Government Digital Service leaders met in Canberra to sign a memorandum of understanding on digital transformation efforts – here’s what you need to know.

As you may know, government agencies often inherit legacy technology that fails to adapt to modern needs. The public gets frustrated with these systems because they’re accustomed to user-friendly solutions offered by other businesses. Some countries tackle this problem head-on by seeking out ways to innovate their infrastructure and services. For example, Australia’s Digital Transformation Office and the UK’s Government Digital Service leaders met in Canberra, Australia to sign a memorandum of understanding formalizing their agreement to collaborate on digital transformation efforts. This “MOU,” or memorandum of understanding, lasts for five years although both countries will review it annually to address any new developments.

Shared Government Goals in Digital Transformation

This collaboration has both governments sharing information and working together to develop digital public services, moving away from traditional systems no longer capable of meeting citizen demand. The MOU defined several common technology goals shared by Australia and the UK to act as a blueprint for their digital strategy.

Their first goal focuses on creating quality digital public-service experiences for the end users. The governments want to address citizen complaints about frustrating systems by overhauling these problem areas and making the new solutions attractive for users. You should also note that another critical area in the agreement provides support for people dealing with accessibility issues or otherwise struggling with limited tech capabilities.

The last common goal looks at the long-term business benefits of digital transformation. They commit to promoting business opportunities and overall economic growth. They’re creating an innovation-friendly environment by emphasizing open-source software. Open-source communities have a strong focus on collaboration, so these governments are also encouraging collaboration with citizens. The governments share experiences and information in five areas.

User needs help Australia and the UK prioritize the digital public services needed the most, as well as the features citizens expect from these solutions. This feedback offers an invaluable source for improving the user experience and gaining insight into the people using these solutions. Assisted digital programs give hands-on help for people who can’t use these new systems on their own, so the digital transformation doesn’t leave them unable to access essential government services.

Legacy systems with data inside virtual “silos” cause many problems when you examine government infrastructure, so the MOU encourages open standards. This strategy helps the new systems work together through integration, better connectivity and lower IT costs. Software interoperability helps digital solutions work together, whether they share the same set of data or expand core functionality for other applications.

Both countries seek to improve broadband and mobile Internet connectivity for all areas so that a lack of access doesn’t prevent any citizen from using the new public services. These improvements also help citizens use other solutions, such as cloud-based applications, which may be difficult to operate with limited bandwidth. Mobile Internet improvements mainly help rural areas poorly served by the existing broadband infrastructure. They also want to improve technical literacy by introducing programming into children’s education. If the school system teaches coding basics alongside other core skills, children gain a deeper insight into how technology works. Improved technical competency also helps address potential IT skill gaps in the workforce in the long term.

Australia and the UK’s Digital Transformation Strategy

Australia and the UK face significant challenges with such an extensive overhaul. They have a digital transformation strategy in place to overcome these problems and meet all of the MOU’s goals. Frequent communication between the countries allows them to gain the critical data needed to continue forward with digital improvements. They’ll also collaborate directly with “secondments” of staff and other joint projects, who temporarily take on short-term projects normally outside of their usual duties. The CEO of Australia’s Digital Transformation Office Paul Shetler said, “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.”

The UK’s Government Digital Services, or “GDS,” has already made great strides in bringing public services into the digital age, and the country also recently signed a similar collaborative agreement, the “Digital 5 charter” or “D5,” with four additional countries. The GDS spends significant time and resources seeking new ways to improve the user experience, simplify systems and create more approachable technology. Australia’s Digital Transformation Office, or “DTO,” is eager to begin working with GDS.

Paul Shetler commented, “I am looking forward to 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. Working more closely together can only help us in our efforts to improve the lives of the citizens in our respective countries.”

Governments face an inevitable digital transformation as they seek to adapt to the needs of their citizens. These complex infrastructures benefit from information and resource sharing as they learn from each other’s experiences and mistakes. Many governments face regulatory concerns making their transformation efforts difficult, so it’s important you consider the impact of your digital strategies when you’re working on government-agency systems. This MOU and the D5 show a trend for government agencies to work together on this complicated issue and make substantial progress toward their goals.