Draft released for Australia smartcard rollout

Draft standards and an interoperability framework for all Australian public sector agencies has been released in preparation for the federal government’s billion dollar smartcard rollout.

The three new whitepapers announced Thursday address what Special Minister of State Gary Nairn considers to be the biggest stalling point for a national smartcard rollout – interoperability.

Speaking at the Australian Smartcard Summit 2006, Nairn expects the draft standards and implementation framework to be finalized by year’s end.

“Interoperability among agency systems is still the biggest hurdle in implementing the network,” he said.

“If agencies can communicate it will enable them to work together and the best way to achieve value for money and interoperability is through national cooperation around standards for a consistent and unified approach.”

Nairn said this is where the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has an important role to play, pointing out that the agency has already done a lot of groundwork in this area.

“The first two parts of the Australian government smartcard framework, the overview and principles, outline the key strategic concepts underpinning the project and there is a handbook to provide guidance on smartcards and related technology,” he said.

When completed, Nairn said the framework will set the basis for all smartcard implementations across government, not just the Human Services’ access card.

“The objective of interoperability is subject to appropriate privacy, security, access control and government conditions on permitted use,” Nairn said.

“But interoperability is one of the biggest issues that we do have to meet and it must be done in such a way that we do not introduce interpretations of what that interoperability is.”

Nairn also outlined the federal government’s authentication framework for employees which is known as Image (identity management for Australian government employees) and is part of a broader e-government strategy to implement a secure identity management platform for public sector employees by 2008.

To standardize this identity management platform, Nairn said an Image card will be issued to government employees separate to the Access card.