Surprising No One, the myGov Audit Returned a Laundry List of Everything That Needs Fixing

Surprising No One, the myGov Audit Returned a Laundry List of Everything That Needs Fixing

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made a few promises in the leadup to the 2022 Federal Election: one was to initiate a Royal Commission into Robodebt and another was to kick off an audit of the Australian government’s online portal, myGov.

The user audit, Albanese said previously, would take a “fresh look at how well myGov is performing when it comes to reliability and functionality for a user-friendly experience”. In September, the myGov audit was officially announced and this week, the auditor’s report has dropped.

Justifying the audit back in May last year, Labor said there had just been “too many crashes and outages”, no doubt alluding to that time former Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert thought myGov had been DDoS’d. (There was just a lot of people checking to see if they qualified for COVID relief, btw.)

The minister who has absorbed the issue-plagued myGov, Bill Shorten, said he wants to turn using myGov from an often-frustrating experience into a seamless one. Amen.

In case you’re unfamiliar, myGov was meant to be an easy, and secure, way to access services online with one login and one password.

Currently, users can link Australian JobSearch, Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Centrelink, Child Support, Department of Health Applications Portal, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, HousingVic Online Services, Medicare, My Aged Care, National Disability Insurance Scheme, National Redress Scheme, State Revenue Office Victoria and My Health Record services to their myGov.

What did the myGov audit find?

The 56-page report made a handful of recommendations, with the first requiring the alleged “one-stop shop” for government services to start acting like one. This would mean expanding its use beyond just a handful of features, going all-in, if you will, on something that allows a citizen to do everything they need within myGov. It also means making it easier for services to jump on board.

Also asked for is a roadmap.

This would confirm the purpose of the whole darn thing.

“The government should: confirm a set of transparent, citizen-value focused, criteria to guide selecting and prioritising initiatives informed by performance data,” the report says, noting the roadmap should also include new myGov features, explain the onboarding of new member services, detail “significant improvements” to existing member services and enhancements to the portal’s underlying technology platform.

Another recommendation is that myGov be enshrined in law. The auditors want myGov and its benefits/purpose/use to be noted in legislation, which would also result in frequent reporting on how things are going in myGov land.

Of course, more money is needed to get this stuff all done.

“Instead of one-off project funding, provide ongoing funding for myGov sustainment and enhancements,” the auditors wrote.

While myGov should enable access to basically everything someone would need to do with government, there also needs to be a mechanism to prevent those who can’t access the portal to not be left behind. That would mean having a paper-based/call centre/in-person option for things, too.

“Australians should have choice in how they interact with government digital services, and in whether, when and how they choose to share their personal information,” the report notes.

As someone who has been blessed with how easy Service NSW makes life for those living in the state, another recommendation highlighted the need to make myGov work with state and territory equivalents.

myGov adjacent was the call from the auditors to speed up the development of Australia’s national digital identity ecosystem. This would help with fixing the long list of everything that’s wrong with it.

There’s a two-year program for improving myGov underway that ends in mid-2023 and Shorten said this audit will help to inform next steps for the upgraded myGov platform.

This article has been updated since it was first published.

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