QGEA foundation principles


QGEA foundation principles flyer

Final | June 2019 | v2.0.2 | OFFICIAL - Public | QGCDG

Principles at a glance

  1. Trustworthy: Our services cultivate trust by embracing openness, security, reliability and usability
  2. Leveraged: Share before buy before build
  3. Effective: Our investments solve the right problem, deliver value and support our direction
  4. Equitable: Our services are accessible and we leave no-one behind
  5. Unified: We work together to deliver a seamless, coordinated and personalised user experience for Queenslanders
  6. Modular: Our services are supported by components that can be designed and delivered incrementally and evolved harmoniously



To provide a consistent set of fundamental beliefs, values, aspirations or behaviours that guide departments when making digital and ICT investment and policy decisions within the Queensland Government.


This document is primarily intended for:

  • strategy and policy development
  • business service design
  • investment planning
  • portfolio analysis and management
  • project management
  • assurance
  • enterprise architecture
  • information management and security.


These principles apply to all Queensland Government departments (as defined by the Public Service Act 2008). Accountable officers (not already in scope of the Public Service Act 2008) and statutory bodies under the Financial and Performance Management Standard 2019 must have regard to these principles in the context of internal controls, financial information management systems and risk management. Please see the Applicability of the QGEA for further information.


The principles apply to all elements (layers, slices and domains) of the QGEA and to all Queensland Government departments.


Trustworthy: Our services cultivate trust by embracing openness, security, reliability and usability


Our services can only be provided effectively if they are trusted by Queenslanders and our partners. We cultivate trust by being transparent about what we do and how we both share, manage and protect our information and data. Putting people at the centre of all our decisions, understanding what they want from our services and delivering this in a way that makes it easy for them is key.

  • Our starting position is that information and data is open – we share and publish our information and data subject to legal and policy constraints. Queenslanders have visibility of Queensland Government’s motivations, decisions and actions.
  • We know and are transparent about what information we have, its quality and how it can be used.
  • Investment decisions consider security and privacy requirements from the start.
  • Information sharing is client-centric.
  • Confidential information is shared safely within government and our partners and without friction as needed.
  • Data and information is collected on a basis of ‘gather once, use many times’.
  • We make data easy to access, use and interoperable with other systems.
  • The quality of our data and information is known and is fit for purpose.
  • Any identified gaps in data quality will be addressed as much as practical to achieve better outcomes.
  • Citizens can request access to and modify their own personal information held by the government.
  • Privacy and security standards and considerations are addressed.
  • Obstacles to information sharing and release are challenged, risk assessed and managed in compliance with relevant legislation.
  • Business cases and funding proposals include full “life-cycle” security costs from the outset so that unbudgeted cost impacts are avoided.
  • Understanding who the users of a service are and what they are trying to do – what are their needs?
  • Relevant stakeholders are actively involved in the solution design
  • For citizens, catering for the non-digital experience also – recognising that there are other ways people will want to interact with government

Leveraged: Share before buy before build


We share as a priority, buy when we need to and build when we must. This can extend not only to traditional ICT assets but also to business services, business processes and information. Sharing existing investments can maximise their value, reduce cost and improve performance. Buying rather than building can reduce costs, complexity and implementation time. We explore partnerships and collaborations within departments, across Queensland Government, other jurisdictions and industry sectors. Better outcomes are achieved from building on prior learnings and working together.

  • At the start of an initiative we seek to understand the problem and capabilities required (whether they be services, processes, information or ICT) – this is the first step to identifying opportunities to share buy build.
  • When sharing data involves personal information, we adhere to the collection, use and disclosure provisions in the Information Privacy Act 2009.
  • When sharing or buying data, we ensure access longevity and build in data ownership and sovereignty into any arrangements
  • We consider how existing capabilities can be leveraged. The types of questions we ask include:
    • Can new capability be built cost effectively using existing and supported technologies in alignment with the agency's technology architecture (e.g. using technologies that are planned for continued use across the expected life of the business solution)?
    • Is there another department already doing this?
    • Is there a dataset that is already available that can be shared and used (taking into account the privacy principles on data re-use where applicable)?
    • What lessons can be learnt from others?
    • Are there other departments that need the same functionality?
    • What are the core functionalities we can share? What are the common functionalities we need to be able to integrate? What needs to be specific?
    • Can we share our contracts or create variations to support sharing with other business areas or departments?
    • Are buy or build opportunities more cost effective, or more fit for purpose or more scalable and flexible into the future than sharing?
  • We explore partnerships and collaborations within a department, across Queensland Government, other jurisdictions and industry sectors.
  • We share information about our projects and investments to support the identification of collaboration opportunities (e.g. via the ICT profiling standard and in turn the Digital Projects Dashboard and ICT Console).
  • Share buy build opportunities are considered as part of idea generation. Whether we are sharing, buying or building it is essential to ensure that the solution is flexible and interoperable with other processes and systems that support delivery of the service.
  • We support requests to share services, processes, information and ICT.
  • Where sharing is not achievable, buying as a service is then preferred.
  • Buying can involve x-as-a-service options and also open source software products.
  • When we buy we consider how others can leverage our new investment (e.g. flexible licensing).
  • Where there is no service that can be shared or bought, build is considered the final option. A decision to build is backed by clear benefits and value for money returns.
  • When we build we do so in a way that encourages reuse and sharing of the capability.
  • Where a technology partner is engaged to build, then intellectual property ownership needs to belong to the State of Queensland to enable future sharing.

Effective: Our investments solve the right problem, deliver value and support our direction

Rational From the beginning we consider whether we are solving the right problem. The key to this is focusing on people (Queensland citizens, businesses and our staff) and delivering on what matters to them. Options for taking an agile, iterative or experimental approach to better understand the problem are explored. We consider if we can deliver value incrementally throughout the life of an initiative rather than big bang, big release, big spend. Priority is given to investments that align and advance Queensland Government’s direction. Our investments are governed to ensure they continue to solve the right problem in the right way throughout their life from the start to benefits realisation. We understand how our investments have realised benefits for Queensland and learn from our experiences.
  • From the start of an initiative and throughout its life we regularly check in and ask:
    • Is it still a problem?
    • Is the problem fully understood and defined?
    • What evidence exists to support the extent of the problem?
    • Do all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the problems, goals and expected benefits?
    • Do we have to solve the whole problem? Can the problem be broken into component parts?
    • What problem areas should I focus on?
    • Who else has this problem or has addressed it? Can we learn from them?
    • Are the right questions being asked? Has the problem been articulated accurately?
    • Has the problem changed?
    • Has the solution changed?
    • Is this a problem government should solve, or should we be supporting the market to solve?
    • Is the solution scalable?
    • What digital trends have now emerged?
    • Has the environment changed?
    • Are we continually challenging existing business models?
  • Opportunities for agile, iterative or experimental approaches are considered to better understand the problem and deliver value. This could involve:
    • delivering a minimum viable product to test the solution
    • trying new things and applying course correction when needed
    • seeking regular user feedback to ensure that the investment is on track to deliver benefits
    • breaking an initiative into chunks, delivering incrementally and applying a staged funding model.
  • Investments align to:
    • legal requirements
    • overall departmental and whole-of-government strategy
    • these principles
    • whole-of-government and departmental policy.
  • We take a federated approach to digital and ICT direction – ensuring that we align with whole-of-government direction but also extending this where necessary to the department’s business context.
  • Our governance processes are effective – we participate in assurance and investment review throughout the life of an initiative to ensure that we are doing the right things, the right way.
  • It is permissible to stop an initiative if it is not delivering value.
  • We understand what benefits have been realised from an initiative and learn from and share with others our successes and failures.

Equitable: Our services are accessible and we leave no-one behind

Rationale Equitable access to government services and information is important to maintain a fair society and strong economy. As we continue to adopt increasingly digital and responsive solutions for Queenslanders, we need to ensure that no Queenslanders are left behind. All initiatives need to consider how we can make it easier for Queenslanders to access digital and ICT enabled services and address accessibility, capability building and digital inclusion.
  • Are the business and our employees ready to focus on digital?
  • Are all the consumers of the service ready to consume digital services?
  • When reviewing or designing new services consider:
    • Is digital the best option? Is it the only option? Do we need to continue to offer the service via other channels?
    • How to do so in co-design with customers to ensure that their preferences and behaviours are catered for. We use human-centred design approaches and meet accessibility standards. Ask:
      • Is our service accessible to all (e.g. disabilities, translatable)?
      • Does more need to be done to support access in remote areas (e.g. infrastructure, alternative access options)?
      • Should the service be able to be downloaded and accessed at another time?
      • What channels are required to ensure equitable access to the service?
      • Can this service be incorporated as part of an existing service?
      • For citizens, catering for the non-digital experience also – recognising that there are other ways people will want to interact with government.
    • How to keep services simple to use, predictive, proactive and person-centric
    • Availability and quality of digital infrastructure in the design of the initiative
  • We support a culture of accessibility and ensure it is considered at design and tested throughout the initiative and lifecycle of the investment.
  • We consider the impact that our investments and digital transformation has on our workforce and ensure our people are not left behind.

Unified: We work together to deliver a seamless, coordinated and personalised user experience for Queenslanders

Rationale Queensland Government delivers services in a range of areas including transport, health, education, law and order, and science. Queenslanders want to interact with the government in a way that is coordinated irrespective of organisational boundaries or who owns or delivers a service. So, while each department or portfolio area needs to be able to deliver responsive solutions in line with their accountabilities, this needs to also meet our customer’s expectations that we operate as a unified enterprise. To achieve this, we deploy flexible and interoperable back-end systems that connect and integrate customer experiences, so customers view Queensland Government as a single enterprise. This approach applies not only to the way we design our front-end services, it also applies to the way we structure our internal processes and share our information. We seek to be truly unified.
  • Customer expectations along with whole-of-government, portfolio and departmental priorities are aligned in the design of new services or processes with the end goal of making it easy for Queenslanders to do business with government.
  • Investments decisions:
    • consider the use of existing credentials or identities to support a unified user experience
    • rethink the norm that government must be the provider of all services, if someone else can do it better, government can support them to do so
    • consider how we can design our information and systems to be interoperable, so integrations can occur
    • choose flexible and interoperable technologies that can scale with customer expectations and emerging trends
    • investigate partnership possibilities inside or outside of government before building stand-alone solutions. See whole-of-government Analytics and insights
    • consider opportunities for data sharing that may create a unified experience particularly when selecting technical solutions
    • minimise duplication and overlap of digital and ICT investments

Modular: Our services are supported by components that can be designed and delivered incrementally and evolved harmoniously

Rationale With our changing approach to government service delivery, citizen expectations and digital landscape we need to do be more responsive. We need to support our services with process, information and technology solutions that reduce complexity, encourage reuse, and enable integration rather than a siloed customer experience. A modular design approach divides a potentially complex service capability into independent, decoupled, reusable components with well-designed interfaces. This approach also helps to reduce complexity and constraints, supports sharing and integration and provides the flexibility to source multiple ‘best of breed’ and innovative components and deliver them incrementally.
  • All initiatives consider modular solution design that reuses existing capabilities where possible and delivers new solutions that can support further sharing opportunities.
  • When designing solutions, the preference is for standards-based interfaces to encourage greater leverage of capabilities.
  • Replacement of an existing solution will need to allow its continuation while new modular components are being implemented until its eventual decommissioning
  • Solutions should consider how modules can be layered to support the further execution, management and changing of modules independently. For example, in terms of lifecycle management, data modules would have greater longevity than user interface modules which will need to evolve and be able to be prototyped, tested and deployed more rapidly
  • Consider whether modules can be delivered or sourced from others with well-defined interfaces.
  • For both new and legacy system that hold personal information, agencies should undertake a privacy impact assessment to mitigate any potential privacy issues.

This approach realises the following benefits

  • decreased complexity of problem and solution delivery
  • increased speed of responding to customers and changing environments
  • easily reuse, replace, share and integrate components
  • increased ability to select only those components that are fit for purpose
  • minimised risk of simultaneous large change
  • increased quality and strategic value of change management.

Applying the principles

The QGEA foundation principles help by:

  • providing a set of values or aspirations to support consistent digital and ICT investment decision making and policy development within the Queensland Government
  • informing the development of departmental architecture principles
  • providing general guidance where formal strategy, principles or policy are not provided.

The principles are not meant to direct immediate action or specific instruction but rather support a mindset or provide guidance in making digital and ICT investment decisions and setting policy. The considerations help in asking the right questions around our investments and provide an indication of where a department should be heading if they are aligning with the principles. They are intended to have long term applicability and their essence is reflected and refined in other QGEA documents.

Departments must align with the principles but may choose to expand on them or adopt their own terminology to reflect more accurately their business context.

Adopting the principles in decision making

In the absence of more specific guidance within the QGEA or within a department, the principles should be used to address emerging issues and guide departmental planning, management and implementation processes, including guiding decisions about new investments.

These principles should be considered throughout the lifecycle of an initiative from idea generation through to design, delivery, continuous improvement and benefits realisation.

Consistent departure from the principles will lead to increasing difficulties at department level and may impact adversely on the department’s capacity to fulfil its commitments to the digital and ICT directions of the Queensland Government.

The principles are only one element in a department’s overall evaluation process about new investments.

Adopting the principles in policy formation and review

When departments review their existing policies, these principles must be considered. Where a policy conflicts with a principle, where possible, the policy is adjusted to support the principles.

Each policy does not require a specific mapping to the various principles. Rather, the principles should be used as a general guide for departmental policy formation and review.

Precedence within the principles

There is no precedence defined in the principles. At times the principles may appear to diverge from each other. This will require interpretation on the part of the decision maker considering the priorities and focus of the investment in question.

For example, a small pilot initiative may prioritise the ‘Effective’ principle over the ‘Trustworthy’ principle particularly in the context of security in order to quickly test an innovation in a managed environment for a limited number of users.

Departments can contact the QGCDG if they have any questions or require further clarification on these principles. Feedback on the principles is always welcome and can be emailed to qgea@qld.gov.au.

Appendix A      Background

In 1999, the Queensland Government launched the Government Information Architecture (GIA). The GIA was a principles-based architecture that contained a set of overarching principles as well as detailed domain principles relating to the management of information, applications and technology.

These principles were widely used by agencies and formed the basis for much of the Queensland Government’s ICT policy and decision making between 1999 and 2005, when the GIA was replaced by the Government Enterprise Architecture (GEA). While it was the intention of the Queensland Government Chief Information Office (QGCIO) to migrate the GIA principles into the GEA, this activity was never formally completed.

As part of the revision of the GEA and publication of the QGEA 2.0, the QGCIO developed a revised set of foundation QGEA principles based on:

  • the government’s overall objectives and priorities regarding service delivery, information management and ICT and the Right to Information
  • a comparative analysis of enterprise architecture principles used in many public-sector jurisdictions within Australia and internationally
  • information drawn from Queensland Government agencies and the GIA.

In 2018 a review of the QGEA foundation principles commenced with contributions from many individuals and departments which was greatly appreciated. The review considered developments in digital and ICT generally as well as within Queensland Government such as DIGITAL1ST, assurance and investment review.

Appendix B Summary of changes to QGEA foundation principles v1.0.0 to v 2.0.0

Principles Version 1.0.0Principles Version 2.0.0Actions based on early consultation feedback
Trustworthy Trustworthy Revised
Transparent   Deleted
Leveraged Leveraged Revised
Effective Effective Revised and merged with Aligned
Aligned Effective Revised and merged with Effective
Equitable Equitable Revised
Cohesive Unified Revised and renamed
Managed   Deleted
Compliant   Deleted
  Modular New

Last Reviewed: 04 August 2020