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Feds Pin Hopes on SOA

Feds Pin Hopes on SOA

The federal government is pinning its hopes on a range of emerging technologies and a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) to deliver the next phase of its e-Government strategy.

The government launched its new directions for e-Government, "A responsive government, a new service agenda" at Parliament House in late March. The roadmap foreshadows plans to provide every citizen with a fully functional government service account, capable of being personalized, by 2008 to 2010. It will allow individuals to access a range of services from all level of government from a single entry point: australia.gov.au.

"Authentication and personal or business information will need to be provided only once through a simplified government sign-on, to access government information and services and for ongoing interactions, transactions and updates," the report says.

"It will be possible to group diverse transactions and complete them at the same time, without navigating the underlying structure and complexity of government.

"People will be able to interact with many areas of government without needing to understand exactly which agencies deliver which services."

The roadmap also foreshadows plans to embrace a range of other initiatives designed to turn citizens on to e-government, with the drawcard for the government being major cost savings.

The roadmap says the government will deploy a range of new and emerging technologies to create a fully connected and responsive government by 2010.

For instance it says mobile devices are mature enough to be applied immediately, and close to 75 percent of Australians already have mobile phones or other wireless devices. The Department of Finance and Administration's Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will work with government agencies to identify best practice applications of mobile technologies from a whole of government perspective, including areas such as emergency response and law enforcement, education, health care and teleworking opportunities.

AGIMO is also developing a smart cards framework defining how government agencies can use smart card technology to allow people to access multiple government services more securely, either in-person or online, essentially by providing them with their own miniature computer. The report says integrated circuit cards (ICC) provide a toolbox of enhanced capabilities for functions such as access control, payment, information storage, management tools and multiple applications. AGIMO will therefore help Australian government agencies who want to implement multi-application smart card technology and ensure interoperability through agreed standards.

"Establishing an interoperable multi-application smart card environment across the Australian public sector requires agencies to support and commit to the following principles:
-open government system framework
-open standards
-choice and flexibility.
The framework will be part of the blueprint for connected government," the report says.

The federal government will consult the states and territories through the Cross Jurisdictional Chief Information Officers Committee of the Online and Communications Council to ensure smart card interoperability across all levels of government.

The plans also require the government to develop and extend its existing substantial investment in innovative technology and infrastructure that supports connected government.

To guide departments and agencies, the government will develop an architectural model of how its service delivery vision will be implemented using the collection of frameworks and standards in the Access and Distribution Strategy - in effect, a cross-agency SOA. The framework recognizes SOA governance calls for a careful balance between central power and distributed development and operation. It says the central power must enable interoperability without destroying the benefits gained from distributed, loosely-connected services, and notes considerable work has already been undertaken on SOA within some government agencies.

"Success in achieving seamless government will mean that in time citizens will be able to get what they need from government without necessarily knowing which government agency they're dealing with, what level of government they're dealing with or even whether they're dealing with government at all. Put simply, citizens won't need to understand the intricacies of government - of which agencies administer which services - to interact with government," Special Minister of State Gary Nairn said at the launch.

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