2 May 2024

GovTEAMS breaks down the barriers to more efficient government-industry collaboration

| Andrew McLaughlin
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With a recent update, GovTEAMS can now be used by anyone in the APS and industry. Photo: GovTEAMS.

It is no secret that the Australian Public Service (APS) takes security, privacy and data management seriously, but this also creates challenges for industry when working with government.

Traditionally, industry has to go through an onboarding process with an APS agency to get access to their network and equipment, ensuring a secure working environment for collaboration and delivery. However, this often comes with delays and challenges, onboarding time, security clearances and background checks, requiring agency devices and more.

With a recent update, GovTEAMS has changed that completely. It can now be used by anyone in the APS and industry to collaborate, communicate and manage files and data securely and effectively.

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GovTEAMS is a secure, flexible, fast and scalable service built on Microsoft Office 365. It uses the power of Teams and SharePoint to support modern, effective and secure collaboration and communication. GovTEAMS has been in use across the APS for over five years.

“GovTEAMS provides a fast, secure, low-cost and flexible way for the APS and Industry to work together,” Department of Finance’s GovTEAMS product manager John Magner said.

“Previously, industry was limited to the Guest membership in GovTEAMS, and that meant they had to have an APS invite them, create Meetings, create Communities, and more — effectively, the APS still had to drive the engagement. With GovTEAMS Partner Memberships, industry has the same features, functionality and flexibility.”

GovTEAMS Partner Memberships are available for anyone with a current or upcoming contract with the APS and an APS sponsor.

With a GovTEAMS Partner Membership, industry can create GovTEAMS Communities to work effectively, efficiently and rapidly with the APS. They can drive the relationship, moving at their pace and under industry’s processes – bringing modern and new ways of working to the APS to drive down risk and deliver sooner.

GovTEAMS has two versions – GovTEAMS OFFICIAL: Sensitive and GovTEAMS PROTECTED.

GovTEAMS Partner Memberships are only available in GovTEAMS OFFICIAL: Sensitive; however, industry can use GovTEAMS PROTECTED for higher-level collaboration with government – as long as they hold a Baseline or higher AGSVA clearance and sponsorship from the APS.

Through GovTEAMS Partner, any employee of the APS can collaborate and connect with any external entity using Microsoft Office 365, allowing them to work on projects in Sensitive or PROTECTED environments.

Using GovTEAMS, users can video, phone, chat, post, host meetings, webinars and live events, share documents, and collaborate securely and in real-time with project partners.

“GovTEAMS is a digital collaboration service built for government. It brings together all the tools you need in one place to connect, share and work together across organisations, with the familiarity of the commercial Teams products,” Mr Magner said.

GovTEAMS is hosted on Microsoft Azure and Office 365, is Infosec Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) assessed and has been accredited by the Department of Finance.

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Using GovTEAMS, users can video, phone, chat, post, host meetings, webinars and live events. Image: GovTEAMS.

“The biggest concerns for government when working with industry are privacy and security—GovTEAMS has already ticked those boxes,” Mr Magner said.

“We treat industry and other outside users as guests in GovTEAMS, and those guests have security controls around them, allowing them to work only on the things they’ve been invited to. They can’t wander around the system.”

Guest access is available to anyone by invitation, and a free participation account with basic access is offered. Guests are limited to invited meetings and communities and are identified as guests next to their name.

Outside agencies working on a project that requires ongoing access to a collaborative space will need a partner membership to GovTEAMS.

Partners can become owners of a GovTEAMS community, invite or remove members, set community permissions and moderate content.

“You have to be trusted, have a contract with the government and be sponsored. But once you’re in, you can pretty much do everything that government employees can do in GovTEAMS.

“What this means is, for vendors and external agencies working with government, when starting a project, you can literally have GovTEAMS set up within a day and start working at a peer level right away – with some caveats – rather than having to wait weeks under the old model,” Mr Magner said.

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Sitting a level above the GovTEAMS OFFICIAL product is GovTEAMS PROTECTED, which shares the same functions and purpose as OFFICIAL but is designed for collaborating on projects that have the PROTECTED classification.

GovTEAMS currently has about 36,000 active APS members, 11,000 active guest users, and an estimated 20,000 communities using the product.

“When looking at the market, we think there is a much bigger number of prospective users out there,” he added.

“It’s about making work more efficient and a social outcome, too. The bonus of having more uptake and users is that we’ll be able to invest in the platform and do more with it.”

For more information or to register, visit GovTEAMS.

Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on PS News.


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