[LINK] Tanner's push for common gateway

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Tue Jun 3 21:00:25 AEST 2008

Tanner's push for common gateway
Karen Dearne
June 03, 2008
The Australian IT

FINANCE Minister Lindsay Tanner is driving the shift to online service 
delivery with a $25 million overhaul of australia.gov.au, the common 
gateway to federal departments and agencies.

The e-government strategy - pursued worldwide as a means of cutting 
costs while improving efficiency - was pushed by former special minister 
of state Gary Nairn, but uptake was patchy.

Mr Tanner said users would be able to link multiple agency online 
accounts to their australia.gov.au account, creating a single sign-on 
for all websites.

People will have the option of creating a user profile, including name 
and address details, which can be used to pre-populate forms required by 

Mr Tanner said the project would not create a central database of 
citizens' information, manage identities or share personal information 
between agencies.

"People will be able to open an account and use it to personalise their 
dealings with government by storing certain preferences," he said.

"No evidence of identity is required to establish an account. It is 
simply a tool aimed at increasing convenience.

"People won't have to remember lots of user names and passwords, and to 
safeguard privacy, services offered through the site will be strictly 

However, people accessing agencies such as Medicare, Centrelink and the 
Australian Taxation office will first have to authenticate their 
identity to each agency's satisfaction.

Agencies will then create a direct link to users' accounts.

One insider said the concept was to reduce the need for ordinary 
citizens to know which agency did what, operating rather like a 
switchboard to direct people to the resources they required.

Global IT services company EDS won the four-year contract to rebuild the 
website, following an open market expression of interest last September 
and a restricted tender in January.

A spokeswoman for Mr Tanner said the single sign-on capability would be 
based on Centrelink's authentication hub, in line with the Government's 
commitment to reusing existing assets.

"The hub protects privacy and does not store or enable sharing of 
personal information," she said.

Centrelink's hub meets the Security Assertion Markup Language 2.0 
standard, a widely used XML standard for exchanging authentication data 
- based on assertions of identity - between web browsers.

EDS is to deliver the first release of the technology infrastructure by 
next April, with a second release due by late 2010.

The project is funded under the Australian Government Online Service 
Point program.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement Greg Combet 
said a new defence and industry web portal would be operational next 
month. "This will help defence contractors find local suppliers," Mr 
Combet said.

"It has been a long-standing problem to find easily accessible and 
current information about companies' capabilities, particularly those of 
small to medium businesses."

The portal will be pre-loaded with data on about 400 local companies and 
new companies will be able to apply to join the database.

Additional reporting: Mahesh Sharma


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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