Australia’s digital identity initiative in flux as director resigns

Australia’s Govpass digital identity initiative is looking for new leadership just as the program embarks on a major expansion effort.

Rachel Dixon, who had been serving as Head of Digital Identity within the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), left her position on Wednesday after submitting a formal resignation last week.

“I’ve been very pleased to be involved with a wonderful team working for me here at the DTA – they’ve done some really wonderful work in this space and I think the model they’ve hit upon for the Federation is something that can finally succeed,” she told InnovationAus.com.

This change in leadership comes at a critical point in the growth of that Govpass model. On the same day Dixon resigned, DTA announced that it would be partnering with Australia Post to integrate its own Digital iD technology into the government’s burgeoning identity platform.

“We envisage an identity solution, like Digital iD, could unlock significant benefits for everyday Australians doing business with government,” Australia Post managing director and group CEO Ahmed Fahour said in Finextra. He noted that repetitive identity verification processes currently cost the Australian government AU$11 billion per year, according to a 2016 Australia Post research report.

Partnering with Australia Post could indicate that DTA is seeking broader applications for its identity initiative beyond simply providing a single identity authentication platform to access various government services.

“If we get this right you won’t need 20 usernames and passwords to access your services, and you’ll be able to switch banks, telcos, utilities and others with the click of a button. Imagine,” Angus Taylor, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, wrote in a recent piece for The Australian. “In time this approach will unleash a new round of competitiveness across the economy as transactions become frictionless.”

There has been no word yet on a replacement for Dixon. But as DTA looks for a new identity head, Govpass will continue its current private beta testing stage, with a public beta launch expected in early 2018. The project was also recently awarded an additional AU$22.7 million in the country’s 2017-2018 budget to complete this next developmental stage.

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Kaelyn Lowmaster is an Asia-focused Market Analytics and Research Associate with One World Identity. Prior to joining OWI, she worked in the Army's International Affairs Division at the Pentagon, and coordinated Johns Hopkins' graduate programs in Nanjing, China. Kaelyn holds an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a graduate certificate from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and a BA from Colgate University. She is currently based in Tokyo.