DTA reveals its three-step myGov overhaul path – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Digital Transformation Agency has revealed its three-step path to an updated myGov digital services platform that promises citizens a single, tailored view of all their interactions with the federal government.
In a week dominated by problems with the existing online service portal due to the unprecedented number of people seeking welfare services, the agency has offered fresh detail on its vision for the new platform.
It follows an industry briefing with system integrators and strategic partners looking to work with the DTA on the build on Monday, when Services Australia was scrambling to increase capacity to a platform under siege. 
A prototype of the platform also called the government digital experience platform (GOVDXP) that will initially “operate as an extension to, and in parallel with, myGov” has already been designed and developed by the DTA and Services Australia.

Source: Digital Transformation Agency

But the prototype, which resembles that of recognisable social media platforms such as Facebook, is intended to eventually give citizens a single, tailored view of their interactions with government, in particular Services Australia.
It is considered a key element of the government’s vision for Services Australia, which has been remade in the image of Service NSW to replicate its successful digital-first, one-stop shop government services model nationally. 
Three horizons
The DTA has detailed three key releases – or horizons – for the project, each of which will add further functionality to the myGov update platform, which builds on “existing technical platforms maintained by Services Australia”.
“The intent is to continually enhance the product and productionise features, to support the end state future myGov update platform,” the DTA said in the requirements document for the platform.
Horizon zero, which showcases the design principles of the new platform has already been released as a new Australia.gov.au home page that offers information on the current coronavirus pandemic.
The solution, which is hosted on Amazon Web Services through Cloud.gov.au, is comprised of the Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Analysis and Adobe Campaign, and could eventually integrate with other platform like Notify.gov.au.
“The demonstrated prototype currently has no third-party integration but demonstrates the intended target state of services which may be exposing APIs over time for us to connect to,” the DTA said.
Big four consultancy Deloitte has been selected for an initial 90-day sprint to configure the prototype – which it expects to be complete in May – and perform additional user research and service design for the prototype.
Under horizon one, the DTA, working with a new system integrator and strategic partner, will develop a new government platform that “provides personalised content, with a web-based myGov inbox, opt-in notifications and login access to myGov” from July.
The DTA then intends to build out the platform, so that it becomes a “place where people can browse information and, once logged in, manage their interactions with government in a central place”.
“The new front end will provide dashboard, profile, inbox and forms, along with information systems such as content pages and notifications,” it said in a blog post.
“An integration layer will sit over the myGov systems, providing a way for information to flow back and forth between the myGov website and the myGov systems.”
“The platform will collect services, apps and other customer experience capabilities to give users everything they need.”
“This will operate on a ‘Netflix’ model, providing users with what they need to do next based on their previous interactions with government services — similar to Netflix’s ‘recommended for you’.
While no date for when horizons one and two will be complete beyond a July start date, the DTA  has not altered its procurement timeline in light of COVID-19.
The week that was (is)
Details of the work follows a difficult few days for Services Australia, which failed to successfully scale to accommodate the influx of people who flooded myGov after loosing their jobs to the coronavirus induced shutdown on Monday.
Problems with the existing platform have since tapered after the agency increased capacity to 150,000 concurrent users, more than 25 times what myGov could support last week.
Government services minister Stuart Robert on Wednesday said myGov had facilitated 2.6 million logins during the day, bringing the total since Tuesday to just under six million.
myGov logins currently average at around 500,000 each day, with the previous busiest day occurring during the 2019 taxtime period last July, where 1.8 million logins were recorded in a single day.
Robert said Services Australia would continue to add more capacity to myGov to support the unprecedented number of people attempting to access welfare services.
“We’re upgrading myGov capacity by creating more load space in our ICT systems to accommodate the surge in demand,” he said.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation and adjust so we can allow as many people to use myGov without compromising overall systems stability.” 
The myGov meltdown was initially blamed on a “significant distributed-denial-of-service attack” that didn’t happen.
Robert has now admitted he ‘jumped the gun’ and did not wait for the outcome of Service Australia’s investigation before blaming the traffic surge on a cyber attack.

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myGov logins surpass 3 million in less than 24 hours – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Millions of Australians have accessed the government’s online services portal myGov in less than 24 hours, as the fallout over the coronavirus induced shutdown continues.
Government services minister Stuart Robert revealed the figure late on Tuesday, highlighting the unprecedented number of people currently seeking welfare services.
“We have facilitated 3.2 million logins to myGov over the past 20 hours. This is just extraordinary,” he said on twitter.
“We will continue to run this service 24/7 and progressively increase its capacity as we have over recent days and months.”
myGov was still facing problems for a second day on Tuesday, even after site capacity was almost tripled overnight, from 55,000 to 150,000 concurrent users.
All of that capacity was being used at midday on Tuesday, according to social services minister Anne Ruston.
But the number of Australians flocking to myGov to access the recently boosted jobseeker payment or $10,000 from their superannuation is only expected to increase.
On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced tighter social distancing measures from 12am Thursday to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections, which now stands at 2044.
Shutdowns that first extended to “non-essential services” like pubs, gyms, cinemas and places of worship will now include food courts, real estate inspections and auctions and other services.
Morrison said Services Australia was once again working to boost the site capacity to allow for even more concurrent users.
“No system is built to deal with the circumstance of events that we are now facing as a nation,” he said.
The myGov meltdown, which began on Monday, was initially blamed on a “significant distributed-denial-of-service attack” that didn’t happen.
Robert has now admitted he ‘jumped the gun’ and did not wait for the outcome of Service Australia’s investigation before blaming the traffic surge on a cyber attack.

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myGov still stalling even after capacity tripled to 150,000 – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The government’s online services portal myGov is continuing to struggle amid the surge in demand for welfare services, even after site capacity was almost tripled overnight.
Social services minister Anne Ruston on Tuesday said myGov capacity had been increased from 55,000 to 150,000 concurrent users to support the number of people seeking welfare services.
Around 123,000 concurrent users were using the site early on Tuesday morning, according to government services minister Stuart Robert, though that figure has now climbed further.
“[Services Australia] have massively surged capacity into myGov overnight. There are right now 123,000 concurrent users (max 55,000 yesterday and only 6000 last Friday),” he said on Twitter.
But despite the changes, the site has continued to either time out or return a “currently unavailable” notice for much of Tuesday morning, much to the dismay of those seeking welfare services.

#mygov down at 10:50am pic.twitter.com/bnMjrGxZCW
— AusGovSlave (@AusGovSlave) March 23, 2020

Service Australia acknowledged the ongoing issues in a tweet, and said it was “working to expand the capacity” further.

We’re experiencing intermittent issues online. We’re working hard to expand the capacity of our online services.If you’re submitting a claim for JobSeeker Payment you can do this online 24/7 and we encourage you to keep trying. pic.twitter.com/nQBEKZZas8
— Services Australia (@ServicesGovAU) March 23, 2020
The continuing issues follow a farcical day on Monday, whereby Robert initially blamed problems with myGov on a “significant distributed-denial-of-service attack” that didn’t happen.
Robert has now admitted he ‘jumped the gun’ and did not wait for the outcome of the investigation before blaming the myGov traffic surge on a cyber attack reminiscent of the 2016 Census crash.
“Problem we had yesterday, after a couple of weeks of some quite serious cyber activity, [was] at 9:40am we had massive spikes – 98,000 concurrent requests, normally it’s 6000 on myGov when all of our cyber warnings go off,” he told 2GB on Tuesday.
“And then of course we investigated it, and I probably should have waited for the investigation before jumping the gun and believing the warnings.
“So the investigation shows there was no evidence of cyber attack, the warnings probably just showed the massive influx that came into our systems.” 
Roberts said Service Australia had not adequately prepared for the influx of people seeking welfare following measures to boost the fortnightly welfare payment for jobseekers.
“I didn’t think I’d have to prepare for 100,000 concurrent users,” he said.
“Again, my bad not realising the sheer scale of the decision on Sunday night by the national leaders that literally saw hundreds and hundreds of thousands, maybe a million people, unemployed overnight.”

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Trust the real casualty in myGov dodgy DDoS – Cloud – Networking – Security – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

If there was ever a textbook case of a stunt not to pull when people are scared and confused, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert’s public trust train wreck masquerading as a press conference citing a cyberattack for why the myGov website choking on its own traffic was it.
As if the community doesn’t have enough on its plate.
With a huge welfare relief package just announced hours before, checkpoints rolling out across closing state borders and the shutters coming down on pubs, clubs and even churches there was always going to be a massive crush on government web pages come Monday.
The last thing people needed to hear was that access to the social security safety net was being jeopardised by cyberattack, especially when the claim was transparently dubious.
Today, Australians understandably grumble and curse when government or commercial websites flop under load. Because it’s annoying, wastes our time and can stall the economy.
But, right now, people know things are crook and that ‘normal’ is now a transient term.
Learning to fail fast
For the most part, Australians grudgingly understand that when an online step-up is too steep, web performance can stall like a clumsy clutch drop on a sharp handbrake hill start.
What possessed Robert to call out a denial-of-service attack (DDoS) is a bit unclear, but it reeks of cack-handed deflection and blame-shifting.
It took just minutes for observers in security circles, finance and telecommunications to wince and shake their heads at what Robert had bowled-up.
Especially after the notorious Census Fail incident that was also a traffic related problem masquerading as a DDoS.
Cyber folk are all-antennae at present because population habits shifting en masse offer a myriad of threats and opportunities.
Cyber attacks are expected. Ministerial deployment of fake FUD less so. So there’s a pattern forming here, and it’s not a good one.
The Australian Signals Directorate swiftly put diplomatic distance between Robert’s statements and its own protective turf handled by the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
“The ACSC is engaging with Services Australia on this reported incident and will continue to provide assistance,” an ACSC statement said.
“At this stage, the ACSC has no evidence to suggest this outage was caused by malicious cyber activity.”
By mid-afternoon, Roberts had crab-walked away from his previous DDoS statement.
Lots of things are failing at the moment. The question is how quick they can recover, not how to apply Teflon.
Blaming the customer
Centrelink, myGov and the federal government’s wider service delivery efforts have a long and inglorious history of frustrating users online and over the phone whether it’s through buggy apps, epic wait times or busy signal from the call centres.
It’s one of the key reasons the Prime Minister Scott Morrison moved so swiftly to model the new Services Australia construct on the far better-liked Service NSW delivery template.
Service NSW does have issues and availability flubs; but the big difference is that state ministers and their bureaucrats cop the blame, eat humble pie, apologise and move on.
It happened with the digital licence – there was a stampede – but cooler heads prevailed.
When people see agencies and their leaders suck-it-up and apologise, they might flame them at the time but will later cut them some slack.
Outage protocol and communications is well-entrenched in banks – some better rehearsed than others – but it’s there.
What’s jarring is Roberts and Services Australia don’t yet seem to have grasped the power of a simple, humble apology. All people wanted was a straight answer – like ‘look, the site’s getting flooded, we’re working on it, please be patient.’
Banks do this, airlines do this, governments do this, it’s outage triage 101.
With a million people hitting the dole queue, a thin-skinned, hypersensitive siege mentality just won’t cut it.
Institutional hypersensitivity syndrome
The most disturbing part of today’s myGov outage persistent and increasingly implausible series of denials from Roberts that the website had crashed at all.
The denials sounded hollow, condescending, defensive and inept.
The worst element of it was that the man tasked with one of the biggest welfare rollouts in Australian history felt it appropriate to argue that general website unavailability was not technically a crash – as if the millions of people scared for their jobs were capricious idiots.
This laid bare either a breathtaking lack of awareness of, or sheer indifference to, years of frustrations welfare clients have endured with policymakers and bureaucrats making excuses for delivery failures ranging from epic call waiting hold times to the brutally clumsy application of Robodebt.
It tells customers their experience doesn’t count and nor do they.
Relearning compassion
Over the past decade, the federal government, and the federal welfare bureaucracy, have developed an institutionalised bunker mentality that any exposure of service delivery failings is a product of a hostile, ideologically driven media and client base seeking to discredit them.
Year after year of crackdowns, swoops and ham-fisted data-matching dragnets to catch a shrinking pool of over-claimants have produced a compliance-driven culture where laborious process and high-effort for access have become the hallmarks of increased barriers to entry for social security.
Booting people off the dole, shaming shirkers, the Robodebt fiasco and so much more have become emblematic of what some call a culture of ‘punitive welfare’ that makes customers put in a huge amount of legwork to access a social safety net.
In some policy circles it’s known as ‘the bludger pantomime’ or ‘welfare theatre’.
‘Don’t make the app too easy to use, people need to work for their benefits.’
‘Don’t like spending two hours on hold … it’s not like you’ve got a job.’
‘Don’t like our erroneous assessment of your unstable income? You’ll have to disprove it or pay back the money.’
And on it goes.
How a welfare agency veered from distribution of benefits to a massive alleged overpayments recovery regime beggars belief. If rules need to be simplified, so be it.
Because the current model, and the business rules that underpin it, are simply no longer fit for purpose given the extent of the current crisis.
There is a big online delivery and business rules challenge; but it’s not as big as the institutional muscle memory of the ‘bludger pantomime’.
Rise above
The coming days, weeks and months will be the biggest test the Australian government’s online infrastructure has ever faced.
There are real questions as to whether the current centralised Services Australia entry point can scale and cope in the coming days, especially on the customer onboarding front.
Banks, could help verify and validate exiting customers by co-processing applications for benefits.
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia already has a ‘benefits finder’, so we know the architecture is there if needed.
The question now is whether Robert, and what used to be the Department of Human Services, is prepared to ask for a hand up.
One thing is for sure: this is not the time to be making up flaky excuses and the back-pedaling.
Nothing will kill trust faster than that.

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Minister backflips on myGov DDoS attack claim – Security- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Government services minister Stuart Robert has quickly walked back his claim that the online services portal myGov suffered a “significant distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack”. 
Robert initially blamed problems with the site on a DDoS attack that left thousands of Australians locked out while attempting to access welfare services.
But less than two hours after first making the claim, Robert backtracked, saying there was no attack and the site was simply overloaded.
Robert said the number of users hitting myGov this morning was almost double the 55,000 the site is designed to concurrently handle.
He also told Parliament during question time the systems had experienced “multiple and sustained DDoSs over the past few weeks”.
“This, combined with all of the data – [from] 95,000 users – gave rise to a very strained performance because of the high number of usage and that caused the outage,” he said.
“The DDoS alarms show no evidence of a specific attack today. That doesn’t mean there is no need for heightened cyber security.”
Services Australia is now looking at ways to increase myGov’s concurrent user load of 55,000 “even higher”, Robert said.
The problems came after the government boosted the fortnightly welfare payment for jobseekers, and announced new measures to allow individuals to apply to access part of their superannuation.
All states and territories will begin shutting down “non-essential services” from midday today to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
The site had been updated by Services Australia over the weekend in preparation for an influx of traffic, Robert said.
“We’ve been preparing for a large influx of Australians who haven’t yet used Centrelink service before,” he said.
“Over the weekend we took our number of users on myGov from an average 6,000 concurrent users to what is now 55,000 concurrent users.
“We’ve put a tenfold increase on our digital channels over the weekend in preparation.”
More to come

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DDoS attack blamed for myGov issues – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

A “significant distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack” has been blamed for problems with the federal government’s online services portal myGov.
Government services minister Stuart Robert made the assertion on Monday afternoon after thousands of Australians were locked out while attempting to access welfare services.
He said that the significant traffic was blocking users from accessing the site, which had been updated by Services Australia over the weekend in preparation for the influx. 
“We’ve been preparing for a large influx of Australians who haven’t yet used Centrelink service before,” he said.
“Over the weekend we took our number of users on myGov from an average 6,000 concurrent users to what is now 55,000 concurrent users.”
“We’ve put a tenfold increase on our digital channels over the weekend in preparation.
“Unfortunately, this morning we also suffered a DDoS attack on our main channels, which also highlights that other threats are still around.”
Roberts denied that the site had crashed, but that the DDoS attack combined with the increase in traffic from genuine people seeking welfare had overloaded the system.
“myGov has not been offline,” he said.
“It has simply suffered from a DDoS attack this morning, and currently it is processing 55,000 concurrent users, which means the 55,001 user will not be able to access it.”
“So as users move off the 55,000, that’s when new users can come on, and we are working today and tonight to look at how we can expand the 55,000 concurrent users to a higher number.”
Roberts declined to attribute the attack.
iTnews has contacted the Australian Signals Directorate to clarify if the matter has been referred to them. 
Services Australia is now looking at ways to increase myGov’s concurrent user load of 55,000 to “even higher”, he said.
It comes after the government boosted the fortnightly welfare payment for jobseekers, and announced new measures to allow individuals to apply to access part of their superannuation.
All states and territories will begin shutting down “non-essential services” from midday today to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
More to come

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myGov crashes amid welfare rush – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The federal government’s online services portal myGov has crashed as thousands of Australians flocked to Centrelink in the wake of a coronavirus induced economic slowdown.
The problems started on Monday morning, with numerous users reporting that the site was unavailable. 
The site was initially returning a server error with “Access Manager WebSEAL”, though that message has since disappeared.
“myGov is currently unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience,” a notice on the site now reads. 
Government services minister Stuart Robert said there was “unprecedented demand for the service” on Monday, asking Australians to be patient and to try again later.
At the time of publication, Downdetector had received more than 2000 reports of issues with myGov since 9:00 am AEDT.
On Sunday, the government announced new measures that allow eligible individuals to apply through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year. 
Jobseekers will also get a $550 boost to their fortnightly welfare payments for six months.
Services Australia has been contacted for comment.
The problems come as all states and territories begin to shut down “non-essential services” from midday today to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
Pubs and clubs, gyms, cinemas and places of worship will begin to close from midday, while restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway or home delivery only.  
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said the measures were expected to be in place for at least six months.

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myGov set for Facebook-like overhaul – Strategy – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

A Facebook-like digital services platform that promises to give citizens a single view of their interactions with the federal government will be developed for Services Australia.
The new platform is expected to ultimately replace the government’s much-maligned existing online services portal myGov.
myGov was launched in 2013 to provide a single access point for citizens to access a range of Services from the then Department of Human Services and the Australian Tax Office.
While the portal has amassed more than 15 million user accounts since then, there remains “no single platform” that citizens can use to access all online government services and information.
This was made clear in Services Australia’s as-yet unreleased strategy, which also revealed that digital services remain fragmented and difficult to use.
But the Digital Transformation Agency is now looking to change that by delivering a myGov update platform, dubbed the government digital experience platform (GOVDXP).
It is considered a key element of the government’s vision for Services Australia, which has been remade in the image of Service NSW to replicate its digital-first, one-stop shop model.
“Large, customer service-focused companies have modernised and transformed their digital experience in recent years,” the DTA said in a blog post late on Friday.
“Australians expect a similar experience from government so they can easily access information and services when and where they need them.”

The platform will initially “operate as an extension to, and in parallel with, myGov” to offer government services across portfolios and jurisdictions.
It will provide a single, tailored view of government for citizens, with “simple, smart and personalised” services and information, including upcoming payments and reminders.
A future GOVDXP is also expected to eventually centre services around life events such as having a baby or experiencing and natural disaster.
“Enhancements to myGov will enable a more effective model for government to deliver the information and services people and businesses need, in a way that works for them,” the DTA said.
SIs wanted to deliver beta solution
A GOVDXP prototype has already been designed by the DTA and is currently being developed by big four consultancy Deloitte under a $1 million contract. 
According to a brief on the digital marketplace, the prototype will be developed by May based on government user research and whole-of-government architecture requirements. 
The 90-day sprint is intended to inform government thinking, including possible capabilities and systems integration approaches, to progress the development of a beta platform solution.
The DTA late on Friday kicked off its search for a “system integrator with hosting and software partnerships” to design and deliver the beta solution from July.
“The seller is required to propose a suitable package of system integrator services, with separate options for base software product(s) and hosting platform(s),” the brief states.
An industry briefing will be held on March 23.

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