Why an Australian Government Architecture (AGA)
Government’s digital landscape is vast and complex, and the AGA increases our understanding and control of that landscape. The AGA helps us to assess new and existing digital solutions by seeing how they “fit in” with what we already have, whether a new solution helps “fill a gap,” or whether what we are currently using is no longer “fit for purpose” and needs to be retired. In this way, the AGA can be used as a decision-making construct that supports more informed digital investments.
When looking at the Commonwealth’s digital estate, we can look at the whole landscape to see what individual agencies are doing and where it is the same or different to the overarching digital direction of government. When we take a “big picture” approach we can identify opportunities to find and reconsider outliers, reduce duplication, fill in capability gaps, reduce system-wide risks, share and reduce costs, and speed up delivery for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Who is it for
The AGA is not just designed for architects! While there are many specialised and technical pieces for people who are interested, the focus is more on making it easier to understand how the directions and decisions of government for digital fit together
For agencies (small, medium and large)
The AGA provides guidance on how to deliver capabilities faster and in a way that is consistent, interoperable, promotes reuse, represents less risk and ensures value for money.
It delivers this by collating current government strategies, policies, standards and supporting design artefacts in one place. The AGA offers government agencies clarity on how capabilities can or should be delivered.
For Government decision makers
The AGA provides key decision makers, including Secretaries, Chief Operating Officers, Chief Information Officers and senior executives from central and line agencies, with the ability to identify opportunities for reuse, areas of key risk in the whole-of-government digital and ICT landscape, and gaps in capabilities where further investment is required.
The AGA sets clear signals to industry describing the way in which government expects capabilities to be delivered, and surety in the direction of government’s digital priorities across its portfolio.
When does it apply
The AGA applies to all agencies when delivering digital outcomes for Government. Alignment to the AGA will be tested within the whole-of-government Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework for new investments (see new investments) but also applies and provides guidance for agencies’ internal, business-as-usual initiatives.
Agencies should review the AGA for guidance on specific capabilities prior to undertaking investment proposals, ICT capability development or digital procurement activities.
How to navigate
The AGA has been organised by a Domain and Capability Model to allow for easier navigation by Agencies.
The AGA will be iterative and expanded over time to ensure content remains contemporary and fit for purpose in moving away from siloed architectures and towards a composable platform architectures, where knowledge is shared and services are efficient, transparent and interoperable.
To ensure the AGA remains effective, it is continually iterated based on feedback and key insights drawn from its usage.
Taxonomy of the AGA
The content of the AGA follows a specific structure and ruleset. Content within the AGA is separated into two categories, Endorsed and Unendorsed, with all content types based on a hierarchy of Domains, Capabilities, policies, standards and designs.
Domains are a high-level grouping of similar standards, solutions, designs and capabilities within the architecture to facilitate classification and navigation of its content. In the context of the AGA, a domain represents the highest grouping level of functions.
Capabilities are a conceptual representation of the types of digital functions across government, for example Case Management or Identity Management.
In the context of the AGA, policies are a term used to define the requirements and constraints for digital initiatives and represents why an entity must do something. Policies within the architecture are not to be confused with whole-of government Policies, for example the whole-of-government Digital and ICT Reuse Policy, the Protective Security Policy Framework and the whole-of-government Digital and ICT Procurement Policy Framework, which are relevant to the AGA but considered external to its structure and content.
Standards offer the specifications or guidance to be applied to ensure digital initiatives are consistent and conform to policies. Standards represent a set way of what should be undertaken to meet the intent of policy. Standards are likely to be subject to a moderate frequency of change as newer approaches and thinking emerge across the digital landscape.
Designs represent the systems, solutions, blueprints or patterns that describe a defined approach of how digital investment can be structured, including how existing assets can be reused and applied, in order to meet the intent of a standard. Designs will be updated and iterated progressively, and will be likely be subject to a higher degree of change to support new thinking from the public and private sectors.
A state within the AGA that indicates that the content type is in the early days of planning, design or establishment. The purpose of its inclusion is to provide visibility of future planning and to assist in the sequencing and alignment of proposed initiatives to future initiatives. For example, the DTA may publish emerging designs following the announcement of initiatives through the Federal Budget.
A state within the AGA that indicates that the content is contemporary, mature and within its lifecycle for applicability to any new planning or proposed initiatives. This categorisation represents mature and established areas of the AGA that provide a level of certainty in their adoption or application.
A state within the AGA that indicates that the content is no longer likely to receive improvement or is planned for future retirement within a timeframe that would materially impact immediate planning inputs. This categorisation represents maturity in an area that is likely to see succession by more updated and contemporary approaches.
A state in the AGA that indicates that the content type is in a decommissioning lifecycle, either due to the end of its planned lifecycle or to more contemporary alternatives becoming available. This content is included for holistic visibility to ensure lessons learned are leveraged to inform future decisions until such a time that their inclusion is no longer warranted.
All unendorsed content types (Domain, Capability, Policy, Standard, Design) are designated in the AGA with a suffix of (position) and must exist in one state (drafting or consulting) to provide clarity on the lifecycle and maturity of that content.
Unendorsed content refers to an indicative opinion of direction that constitutes best practice advice. Unendorsed content can be informed by the views of the DTA, the Secretaries’ Digital and Data Committee (SDDC), the Secretaries Board or other entities with authority commensurate to the content proposed. Stakeholders can use this content to understand the DTA’s view on specific areas of the AGA and their respective place within the whole-of-government digital ecosystem. Unendorsed content provides indicative directions but do not constitute government policy. This acts as a transparent indication of how the DTA may inform advice to government on the suitability of digital investments.
A state within the AGA that indicates that the content has been released for early visibility and signalling of direction or intent, which will be subject to further consultation or processes for approval. This state signals future work and intent.
A state within the AGA that indicates the DTA is undergoing consultation prior to seeking authority to include a content type as an endorsed item in the AGA. The level of authority for which a decision on elements of the AGA becomes endorsed is determined on the impact of the content proposed, and the feedback received during consultation.
What about areas of the architecture that haven't been developed yet?
The AGA will continually be expanded, updated and developed to remain contemporary and address the key challenges faced by agencies. With this in mind, there may be some areas of the AGA that have not been developed where a stakeholder, either public or private, may be able to contribute. In this circumstance, DTA welcomes any input from industry or APS leaders on where new standards or designs may be able to be captured in the AGA.
Further, to ensure that innovation is supported through the application of the AGA, where a new approach to delivering a capability may be available, the DTA has developed an exemption process to capture new ideas and test existing standards.
This also applies where agencies have a strong case for diverging from the AGA, whereby they can work with the DTA to capture an alternate approach as an additional standard that meets a policy intent.
Stakeholders can engage with the DTA to provide new content by emailing email@example.com.