Australian Government Architecture

Reuse Standard

Reuse is defined as making use of something more than once for a different purpose, or for a subsequent time. Reuse enables simple, consistent, and accelerated government services through standardisation and utilisation of these components. This can be enabled via partial or full utilisation of existing solutions, or by onboarding to an existing service in place of standing up a new platform.

In the Australian Government context, the term “reuse” means using an existing component within the process of realising a new digital or ICT solution, as grouped into the following categories:

  • Technology and architecture, including:
    • Platforms and services
    • Architecture frameworks, standards, and patterns
    • Common components and code
  • Business capability and process
    • Business capability models and process designs
    • Governance models
    • Business requirements and rules
  • Procurement
    • Commercial, legal, and licensing agreements
    • Whole-of-government (WofG) procurement resources
    • Procurement processes
  • Information and data
    • User and customer research
    • Data sets
  • Skills and capabilities
    • Digital and ICT skills and capabilities

Reuse enables simple, consistent, and accelerated government services through standardisation and utilisation of these components. This can be enabled via partial or full utilisation of existing solutions, or by onboarding to an existing Shared Services Arrangement in place of standing up a new platform.

The Data and Digital Government Strategy (2023) states that:

The Australian Government’s digital ecosystem will be flexible and robust through implementing systems and services aligned to agreed capabilities. Standardisation unlocks opportunities for easy sharing and integration of data, collaboration, and reuse across agencies. The government will proactively embrace digital technologies by taking a holistic approach to growing its data and digital capability to ensure sustainability into the future.

Adopting appropriate common standards is fundamental to achieving a data-driven and digitally-enabled APS. Standards ensure hardware and software are interoperable and can work together seamlessly.

Reuse should not stand in the way of competitiveness, innovation, and adoption of modern solutions. Any new adoption of new technologies or standards, or development of new components, should enable future reuse while retaining compatibility with other related governmental policy and advice.

Reuse Guidance

Reuse of prior investment enables Commonwealth entities to achieve increased time and cost efficiency by reducing duplication and de-risking new projects. This drives commonality and greater flexibility in cross-entity collaboration, contributing to the delivery of seamless government services, interoperability, optimising resource utilisation, and creating a cohesive and integrated technology ecosystem.

The Digital and ICT Reuse Policy is underpinned by several reuse principal themes: engagement, governance, architecture, and operations. As a starting point, entities should:

  • identify their use case requirements and alignment to business capabilities
  • start engagement with key stakeholders and entities that may harbour reusable components early in planning of proposals to identify reuseable capabilities or what is required to be built for reuse
  • establish governance arrangements, including high-level architectures mapping to broadly-applicable base capabilities, to ensure objectives are achieved and standards are adhered to throughout the delivery process
  • if building whole-of-government (WofG) capabilities, establish and maintain the WofG base capability as well as the necessary support processes, tools, and guidance to facilitate reuse or onboarding by consuming entities.

The degree to which an entity can leverage reuse is dependent on several factors, most notably commonality of the use case requirements, existing technology and data environment, scale, and the availability of the reusable content.

Understand use case requirements

Many different solutions and platforms are available in government. There is therefore significant opportunity to derive value from previous investment. An understanding of specific functional and non-functional use case requirements, and of system focus, allows comparability to previous investment. With appropriate engagement across government, it is then possible to identify potential avenues for reuse.

Use case requirements of specific note may include:

  • alignment to defined business capabilities
  • scale/volume/frequency/availability
  • tactical/strategic nature of solution 
  • security/privacy
  • policy mandates
  • existing technological landscape
  • user and client needs/attributes
  • nature of data contained/managed
Architecturally map alignment to business capabilities

Any technological solution/system can be considered through the lens of the capabilities it enables. The Open Group would define a capability as “an ability to do something”. A business capability, then, represents the ability for a business to do something.

In order to properly architect a solution, be it a completely new system or an enhancement/repurposing of an existing one, an exercise should be undertaken to map the proposal to the business capabilities it enables, and therefore align it to policies, standards, and designs (representing previous investment that can be leveraged).

Beyond independent exercises aligning single proposals to architecture, it is strongly recommended that entities adopt an overarching Enterprise Architecture approach that aligns its function and structure to business capabilities, and further to technical solutions and patterns. Such an approach enhances the efficiency of an organisation, enabling improved decision making, reduced project and maintenance costs, and many further benefits.

Consider scale of solution and appropriate licencing/hosting

ICT applications and solutions commonly used across government, including in the domains of Customer Relationship Management, Case Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Grant Management, and many others, may be considered in terms of scale (micro/mid/enterprise), and supply/licencing/hosting (Commercial off the Shelf (CotS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS)):

  1. Micro-scale CotS.

Locally installed on organisation computers, often with simple extensions to support specific organisational needs and integrations, and generally only supporting standardised, simple solutions and processes.

  1. Micro-scale SaaS.

Subscription-based and hosted on a hosting provider’s servers. Mostly used by multiple organisations in the same shared technology platform, with limited capacity for custom configurations, deployment, or hosting.

  1. Mid-scale SaaS.

Similar to Micro-scale SaaS, but with a higher level of organisational configuration and customisation than micro-scale. Allow extension to handle more complex models/transactions/processes, but generally only with a small number of variations and in a simple structure or deployment context.

  1. Enterprise-scale SaaS

Specific to the organisation (or organisations) they are servicing and often referred to as a “private cloud offering”. A vendor provides the software and technology layer, with contractual responsibility for design, implementation, maintenance, and support. Very high enrolment, and implementation(s) should support high-volume, low-cost unit rates or high-cost specialist transactions, and support multiple customisation and localisation options beyond the vendor’s base offering, as well as allowing for significant scaling and expansion.

  1. Subscription-based PaaS

A cloud offering that broadens the SaaS model to include the vendor delivering infrastructure for hosting software, data, and other requisite components within the service.

  1. Government Platform as a Service (GPaaS)

A combination model where government acts as the platform provider and controls the design, implementation, maintenance, and support of combined services. In this model, government may make use of specific SaaS services from enterprise-scale providers, and/or utilise Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or on-premises (own infrastructure) to deliver a solution. Distinct in that government determines and owns the implementation, the frequency of maintenance and support, and other functionality or lifecycle management. This is a strictly private-to-government arrangement, in which implementation(s) must support high-cost, specialist transactions and may support high-volume, low-cost unit rates.

Consider whether a solution is tactical or strategic

Solutions can be considered as either:

  • Strategic: A solution developed to solve a business need in a manner that is ongoing and will receive medium to long-term support, or;
  • Tactical: A fast-tracked solution designed to solve an urgent need, often delivered with less procedural rigour and in a manner that does not suit a long-term implementation.

The following should be considered when assessing the merits of reusing tactical or strategic solutions:

  • Tactical solutions should only be reused for other tactical purposes, and only where components of the existing solution are suitable for re-implementation with minimal rework.
  • Strategic solutions should be reused for strategic or tactical purposes where suitable.

When reusing in a tactical manner, appropriate documentation should be kept highlighting the nature of reuse and plans for managing any incurred technical debt.

Reuse whenever possible

Entities should investigate options to plan for and make use of opportunities for reuse. In line with the Reuse Policy, entities should consider reuse opportunities across the five reuse categories:

  • technology and architecture
  • business capability and process
  • procurement
  • information and data
  • digital and ICT skills and capabilities

Once a clear understanding of requirements, and alignment to business capabilities, has been established, alignment should be determined with Australian Government Architecture, and engagement with entities who have implemented and/or used comparable solutions should occur. Entity function, such as policy, service delivery, legislative or regulatory focuses, can be of value in identifying potential options for reuse, although the overarching function does not necessarily align to the practical requirements of specific solutions.

Depending on the use case, existing solutions are suitable for reuse through either shared service models, repurposing of existing cloud implementations, or the leveraging of existing patterns. These patterns are available to be consumed through existing Whole of Australian Government Arrangements and inter-government Memorandums of Understanding (MoU).

Suitability for reuse should be assessed by analysing the requirements of a use case against the capabilities of the asset being reused. An existing system or solution (or other existing investment) should not be reused if the effort required to align it to use case requirements outpaces that of implementing a different solution.

Design and build for reuse

If an entity cannot reuse an existing investment, then they should ensure that anything created is able to be reused by other entities. The consideration of reuse as a requirement when investing in, and maintaining, digital and ICT delivery will help drive lower build and run costs, increase speed and certainty of delivery, and enable interconnectivity of services for people and businesses.

The goal of designing and building for reuse can be achieved through:

Minimise Technical Debt

Technical debt is defined as accrued work that is “owed” to an IT system, a side effect of software engineering resulting from teams “borrowing” against quality by making sacrifices, taking short cuts, or using workarounds to meet delivery deadlines.

When implementing a solution intended to be reusable, consideration of technical debt is critical. The minimisation of any technical debt that would be perpetuated by redeployment of a solution is key, and ideally any instances of reuse should be seen as opportunities to remediate previously incurred debt.

Technical debt can be minimised and reduced by:

  • understanding the long-term cost of technical debt and accordingly budgeting for future remediations/long term costs associated with short-term solutions
  • ensuring new technical debt is taken on in a deliberate manner and tracked/planned for, according to the situational needs and in line with a long-term strategy
  • considering debt management an ongoing process throughout the delivery lifecycle(s) and analysing/documenting appropriately

Where entities are building WofG capabilities, they should establish and maintain the WofG base capability as well as the necessary support processes, tools, and guidance to facilitate reuse or onboarding by consuming entities. 

Enable reuse by others

Beyond development of a component that is reusable, efforts should be made to ensure anything created is available to those who might derive benefit from it (unless there are legislative/ethical barriers). This may take the form of:

  • senior executive-level engagement across government
  • publishing content as a "Design" on the Australian Government Architecture, with clear advice guiding the AGA's audience on how a component may be reusable, and on the relevant attributes (scale, technology, etc.)
  • publishing content on another suitable repository, such as an API on or an open-source codebase on GitHub
  • clearly articulating, in a manner that suits the sensitivity of any subject matter/data, the component’s fundamental details on your entity's website, alongside contact details
  • working with other entities to provide them support in their reuse of investment or capability.


This standard assists in meeting the requirements of the following policies.

Digital and ICT Reuse Policy

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