One July: Updated Digital Service Standard applies to new services

DTA

In December 2023, the Australian Government launched Version 2.0 of the Digital Service Standard. Starting 1 July 2024, all new government services must meet its criteria.

Initially released in 2016, the Digital Service Standard (the Standard) outlines a set of requirements for designing and delivering digital government services. The Standard puts people and business at the centre of government digital service delivery.

Agencies must consider these criteria to deliver digital services that are inclusive, adaptable and measurable.

To maintain Australia’s global leadership on digital government, the updated standard is mandated for new government services, both public and staff-facing, which launch from 1 July 2024 and onwards.

Read on to learn about why the Standard matters and what agencies and their delivery partners need to know.

A layout of the first four pages to the policy

Why does government need a standard?

Before the Digital Service Standard, there were no whole-of-government requirements from which to build digital services. Agencies were free to design them how they saw fit, which could result in an inconsistent user experience and duplication of effort and resources.

As more government services move online, the Standard identifies important criteria to ensure agencies design and deliver them in an accessible, consistent and reliable way.

Version 2.0 makes several improvements on the first. The number of criteria has reduced from 13 to 10, but its scope is broader and encompasses the entire lifecycle of a digital service – from early user research to monitoring and evaluation. Version 2.0 – while being more robust in its recommendations – is less prescriptive, thereby more accurately reflecting the current state of governments’ digital maturity.

Rather than being a set of prescriptive, step-by-step instructions, the 10 criteria are outcomes-based. This means agencies can meet them in a way that works for their unique service options and user needs, especially as they evolve with time.

Mandating the standard for all digital government services

When Version 2.0 of the Digital Service Standard was launched in December 2023, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) shared a 2-phase approach to when it will be mandated for all government services, both information and transactional, that are owned by non-corporate Commonwealth entities.

Since then, the DTA has engaged with government agencies to prepare for each milestone’s key date.

Phase 1: New public- and staff-facing services

All new services (public- and staff-facing) launching from 1 July 2024 must comply with Version 2.0 of the Digital Service Standard.

Any new proposals being brought to Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2024-25 and onwards will also need to comply with Version 2.0 of the Standard.

It applies to staff-facing services as well, to ensure the Australian Public Service is equipped with effective internal tools that improve policy and service delivery.

Phase 2: Existing public-facing services

All public-facing services will need to comply with the Standard from 1 July 2025.

Putting the standard to work

The Digital Service Standard is a valuable tool for agencies as they align to the Data and Digital Government Strategy‘s 2030 vision. And the good news is that, for many new digital services, much of its criteria is already fulfilled by adopting a robust service design process.

Some of those activities include:

  • setting goals and measurable outcomes early
  • consulting a diverse range of impacted stakeholders
  • building for interoperability and reuse
  • writing content to comply with the Australian Government Style Manual

The best way to make sure your digital service complies with the Standard is to familiarise yourself with its advice and take advantage of the accompanying digital toolkit. You can explore these resources and more at dta.gov.au/digitalservicestandard

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