The Australian Government is to digitise travel documents as part of a permissions capability system refresh to a reusable whole-of-Government digital platform.
The update to its permissions capability is set to focus on reusability for permission-based services, which includes visas, permits, accreditation, licenses and registrations.
According to a listing on AusTender, the Government is looking to work with a provider to collaborate on the system architecture, as well as design, deliver and support the first use case for the permissions capability — a digital passenger declaration system and a "simple" visa product.
Previously, the Government had been investing in multiple systems across multiple departments, which the Department of Home Affairs and the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) claimed in a joint document that this placed “significant pressure” on departmental budgets and the Australian economy.
“The costs of ageing, siloed ICT systems exert an ongoing cycle of fiscal pressures. These pressures are coming to bear as a number of systems underpinning government services are reaching their end of life,” documents for the refresh noted.
The initial use case of the system will see Home Affairs digitise existing incoming passenger cards, including the collection of health-related declarations and contact information in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also on the cards is a “simple digital visa product”, which the Government plans to use to test the integration capabilities of the platform.
Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said the permissions capability refresh will help Australia to "reopen our borders in a COVID-safe way to help with the rebuilding of Australia’s economy".
“On top of that, it will significantly streamline our national response to COVID-19 and our contact tracing capabilities by speeding up information collection and processing," he said.
“Currently, the government collects a range of passenger information, including contact details, customs and biosecurity information from citizens and non-citizens entering Australia using a manual, paper based process.
“This new capability will strip away the need to scan paper cards. It will facilitate data sharing between state and territory health departments and enable swift verification of information provided by passengers.”
Past this, future adaptations for the platform include personnel security clearance, export and import licensing, police checks, border movement history, Commonwealth security accreditation provision and a “complex” visa product.
A request for tender (RFT) for the platform is expected to be released later this month.
The update to its permissions capability follows the final report of the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, otherwise known as the Thodey review.
Released in December 2019, a number of the report’s 40 recommendations deal with information and communication technology (ICT), digital technology and procurement, some of them aimed squarely at bringing the federal government up to speed in terms of digital maturity.
In response, the Department of Home Affairs and the DTA were instructed to source and deliver a permissions capability platform.