Frequently asked questions

What does ‘Protected Utility’ mean?

‘Protected Utility’ means working on documents, spreadsheets and other common desktop applications in a secure environment classified up to the Protected level. Protected Utility also means being able to work on these applications anywhere in the world using an internet connection and a device.

What is the Protected Utility blueprint?

The Protected Utility blueprint, released publicly in March 2020, is a design for creating and configuring this secure operating environment using the Microsoft 365 cloud suite. The blueprint helps agencies manage information at up to the Protected level. The blueprint will help agencies migrate away from aging and often unsecure systems.

What is the DTA’s role in the context of Protected Utility?

The DTA is assisting agencies to adopt the blueprint, helping them uplift their cyber security. This helps agencies focus on core business objectives and not on managing their ICT infrastructure.

What benefit does the blueprint provide me if I use it?

  • Employees can work remotely on Protected documents and information, from anywhere in the world.
  • Employees can collaborate together on documents in real time, use video conferencing, instant messaging, and create document repositories to store and share information.
  • Organisations can move away from using unsecure, aging, and bespoke legacy systems, and move to modern, secure, and configurable systems that are well-supported by enterprise vendors such as Microsoft.
  • Organisations can share lessons learnt and best practice in deploying and configuring these enterprise systems and using the blueprint on a Community Portal. They can also share lessons learnt about the business change required to enable using the technology.
  • Organisations can procure modern technology through Whole of Government panels, achieving greater value for money.
  • In future updates the blueprint, employees will be able to video conference, send emails, and collaborate on documents with employees from other organisations that use the blueprint.

What benefit does Protected Utility provide the Australian public?

The Government is strengthening the security of its networks and systems by implementing Protected Utility Modern Workplace technology with effective cyber security controls. This protects public information held on these systems by various agencies.

Additionally, the Government is developing an APS workforce which uses modern technology following the Protected Utility blueprint. This retains and recruits APS talent. Additionally, this enables a remote and flexible workforce across Australia. This has an indirect benefit of providing employment opportunities in the Australian public.

Through the Protected Utility blueprint, the Government is investing in common platforms, services and processes across the public service. This reduces the cost of individual agencies using individual applications to achieve a similar result. Additionally, it frees agency funds to deliver other public services.

How does the DTA support the blueprint?

DTA was funded to:

  • Develop a blueprint which standardises the design for a secure Modern Workplace based on Microsoft 365 technologies.
  • Support the transition of up to 6 Commonwealth agencies, identified in conjunction with the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), to the blueprint.

As such, the DTA has published the Protected Utility blueprint as a pattern or guide, as opposed to a technology platform. Instead, it enables agencies to improve their ICT capability through a consistent approach for collaboration and business operations. This empowers agencies to make their own technology decisions, based on proven, Whole of Government digital guidance.

Which agencies have the DTA assisted to use the blueprint so far?

The DTA has supported the following agencies in understanding the blueprint:

  • Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)
  • Bureau of Meteorology (BOM)
  • Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE)
  • Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS)
  • Department of Social Services (DSS)
  • Inspector-General of Taxation (IGT)
  • Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (OCO)
  • Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)
  • National Blood Authority (NBA)
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The DTA plans to support further engagement with agencies.

How widely has the blueprint been read?

The blueprint has been accessed by over 100 state and federal agencies.

Additionally, over 40 agencies have accessed IT administrator training provided by the DTA based on key skills we believe are required to adopt the blueprint.

What has the DTA delivered so far in relation to the blueprint?

A design for a secure modern desktop – Protected Utility blueprint

Released publicly in March 2020, the Protected Utility blueprint is a design to create a common, secure operating environment. This environment uses several Microsoft 365 (M365) cloud applications.

The blueprint helps agencies manage information up to the PROTECTED level. This improves cyber security maturity against the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Essential Eight cyber mitigations.

The blueprint enables contemporary office productivity tools to be adopted consistently. For example, common and interoperable document collaboration, email, and video conferencing.

A community collaboration forum

In October 2020 the DTA established the blueprint community portal to increase Whole of Government community collaboration to improve and continue the use of the blueprint. Through the forum there have been newsletters, a survey and knowledge articles published.

In February 2021, we moved the blueprint to Github to enable collaboration from all facets of our community to users globally.

In November 2021, the community forum has been discontinued. This is because the Protected Utility Program has moved into BAU. We will continue to provide the blueprint and business change guide, but no longer support agency or community forum engagement.

Agency support – Protected Utility blueprint adoption

The DTA has supported more than 10 agencies to date by delivering change readiness assessments, change implementation roadmaps, benefits realisation plans, training needs analysis, security management plans and operations model risk assessments. In assisting agencies to migrate from aging and often unsecure legacy systems by adopting the blueprint, this has enabled agencies to focus on core business objectives, rather than managing their ICT infrastructure.

In June 2021, agency engagements have been completed and discontinued due to our transition to BAU.

Skills uplift through M365 training – APS Digital Profession

The DTA identified the digital skills and capability training needed through discovery with multiple agencies and is delivering the training in partnership with Microsoft. We have developed an operations model which outlines and cost estimates these skills in agencies.

Between November 2020 and June 2021, the DTA delivered digital skills and capability training for IT administrators and end-users in M365 and Azure. These course offerings have now ended.

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