Smartcards to integrate levels of e-government in Australia

The smartcard paradigm will result in better and more secure access to government services across jurisdictions, according to the Australian Federal Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn.

In Sydney to speak at this year’s Australian Smart Cards Summit, Nairn said building “communities of interest” would stimulate interoperability, which in turn would pave the way for more government use of smartcards.

The government is working on a smartcard implementation guide to provide information to assist agencies to deploy them, with the request for comment phase having closed in early May.

“The document is quite comprehensive at 392 pages of issues to be mindful of when implementing smartcards and drafting a business case,” the minister said.

Nairn said the “smartcard framework” – developed by all levels of government – was nearly complete and will be finished when all jurisdictions take a common approach.

“All Australian tiers of government agreed to a principle defined in the framework and the [federal] government smartcard framework is now a national smartcard framework,” he said, adding the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) would update it on a regular basis.

Nairn spoke about how smartcards dovetailed into other strategic e-government initiatives, including the Australian Government e-Authentication Framework (AGAF), and the transformation of existing Web portals into “online service points.”

The AGAF for businesses and individuals will be combined into a single document and $42.4 million has been committed to transforming the Web site into an online service point to deliver new services.

“As all of this comes together, I see a natural connection to what we are doing,” Nairn said. “The national e-government strategy, enabling citizens for single sign-on to interact with government, AGAF has a role for authentication and identification as people go online, and smartcards.”

“Governments must meet citizens’ expectations in a world of emerging technology and protect them when they choose to use the Internet for service delivery. The smartcards framework provides a standards-based architecture for all agencies across all jurisdictions and this collaborative approach has worked well.”

Last year, the first set of identity management documents for federal government employees became available “to get things right in own house.”

Nairn is confident single sign-on will enable citizens to use e-government services without having to continuously reaffirm their identity.

“Simplified sign-on will enable more seamless interaction with government [and] this initiative will put Australia at the forefront of e-government development.

Nairn, with a pre-politics profession in surveying and mapping, also talked up a six-month trial of spatial information which began in February. “The importance of maps and the where factor is important,” he said.

As an example of this, the Australian Centre for Climate Change is creating a national digital elevation model to map the whole country and identify areas at risk of climate change.

Related content:

One entity, one identity

The politics of digital identities

Ontario privacy chief props user ID system

Managing identity: Data sharing meets privacy

It’s time for a new password

Compliance drives identity management growth

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