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govCMS Mega Meetup

The October govCMS Mega Meetup saw over 300 people come together to talk about govCMS. Updates, awards and the future were official agenda items, but a lot of knowledge-sharing happened too.

Alfred D 1 November 2017

As well as being present at the Mega Meetup, we were also lucky enough to chat to some members of the govCMS team for this blog, which provided us with even further insight into the govCMS Mega Meetup, govCMS and the vision for the future.

The Mega Meetup

The govCMS Mega Meetup took place in Phillip, ACT on 13 October. The official agenda looked like this:

  • Registration and networking
  • Introduction by John Sheridan
  • Future of govCMS by Sharyn Clarkson
  • Reflective table discussion
  • Awards
  • Digitisation of Annual Reports by Kayelle Drinkwater
  • Proof of concept for Drupal 8 by Andrew Carr
  • Drupal 8 roadmap and support by Toby Bellwood
  • Drupal Services Panel by Nathan Wall
  • Q&A

And all packed in to three hours!

The Mega Meetup did turn out to be pretty mega, with over 300 attendees — 228 from the public sector and 79 from the private sector. The govCMS team said it was very exciting looking at all the tables and chairs set up, ready to go before the event...a great visual of the magnitude of the meetup.

From a Tweet on the day!

From the public sector side of things, the majority of attendees were current govCMS users, but there were also a lot of prospective govCMS users who had come to the event to find out more. The govCMS team loved seeing the mix of agencies, from their first govCMS client to agencies they’d never dealt with before.

And the vendors represented suppliers from the Drupal Services Panel and other thought leaders in the govCMS community. Vendors were scattered across the tables, so they could talk to different agencies and engage in broader conversations.

Key announcements

The govCMS Mega Meetup, included key announcements and updates about what’s happening with govCMS now, and in the future. There were two presentations on Drupal 8 and how it’s being incorporated into govCMS, plus an update on the Drupal Services Panel (which is a key delivery for Finance because the panel will make procurement easier and faster for agencies). Other highlights included Sharyn Clarkson’s vision on where govCMS is going, upcoming challenges and what’s being done to face those challenges.


Recognising people’s achievements through the awards was a highlight for the govCMS team, which realises that sometimes these awards might be the only recognition an agency govCMS champion gets...sometimes they don’t get much recognition from inside their agency.

The public sector award winners were:

  • Scott Ashwin, Australian Financial Security Authority: Outstanding contribution to govCMS ‘Helping govCMS establish the Drupal Services Panel’

  • Nathan Ward, Digital Transformation Agency: Outstanding contribution to govCMS ‘Helping govCMS establish the Drupal Services Panel’

  • Michael Hodgkin, Department of Human Services: Online Community Champion ‘Regular contribution to discussions in the govCMS online community’

  • Joshua Li, Department of Health: Community Innovation ‘Creating and sharing developer tools, helping teams maintain and enhance sites already on the govCMS SaaS platform’

Vendor winners were:

  • Simon Hobbs, ‘Lil Engine: Online Community Champion ‘Regular contribution to discussions in the govCMS online community’

  • Alfred Deeb, Salsa Digital: Community Collaboration ’Creating pathways for govCMS to collaborate with the Government of Victoria Single Digital Platform project’


The Award winners

Needless to say, we were more than a little excited to be recognised by the govCMS team. As keen members of the govCMS community we are passionate about govCMS and everything it can deliver to government agencies and the broader Australian maybe it’s not surprising our enthusiasm and expertise has been noticed!

The govCMS community

The govCMS team sees community at the core of how govCMS operates. So while the govCMS effort is centrally led, govCMS is not controlled from the centre. Rather, the community works together with a free-flow exchange of information. Community events help to bring together different government agencies (those currently using govCMS and those thinking about it) for a true knowledge-sharing experience. While events do connect the govCMS team with the agencies, more importantly it connects the agencies with one another so they can share their experiences.

While the core of the community is the government agencies and digital teams currently using govCMS, many prospective govCMS users attend events like the Mega Meetup. This allows them to gather information about govCMS from their peers — other agencies that are using govCMS.

The Mega Meetup in October also included suppliers. The suppliers (like Salsa Digital) form an important part of the community. The govCMS team relies on the vendors and enjoys talking to them...hearing about their experiences and leveraging from those experiences.

Future events

The govCMS team already organises regular meetups/community events. Moving forward, they aim to run three to four mega meetups throughout the year with at least one of them including the private sector. Including the private sector in some of the meetups came from the govCMS community, and is another great example of how govCMS is led and governed by the community.

The team is also looking at smaller, more targeted events to connect community members with one another and is investigating online tools that will enable knowledge sharing, such as Slack, video conferencing, Google Hangouts, etc. Online opportunities mean the community can have the conversations without physically being in the same state.

The next govCMS community event is in March, the govCMS birthday event. This one will be public sector only, allowing agencies to talk to one another about problems and solutions.

govCMS vision

govCMS is not a mandated service, so it’s not compulsory. In fact, we understand the govCMS team doesn’t want it to be compulsory because it would change the way the community works. At the moment, 66 agencies are on board (federal, state and local), and obviously that represents a small percentage of all government agencies (there are about 180 at the federal level, hundreds at state, and even more at the local level of government). The govCMS team doesn’t expect to get every single agency on board, but given there are thousands and thousands of government websites that are quite simple (basic content, without any complicated functionality), these websites represent significant cost-saving opportunities for government.

govCMS can also deliver more consistency across government in terms of tools and design elements/patterns, which delivers even more cost savings. They’ve been working closely with the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to implement the DTA UI Toolkit on govCMS so it’s ready for agencies to use. In addition, with more agencies on the same platform, the government could build teams with consistent skills who could easily move from site to site/agency to agency. Another long-term saving. These major savings could then be invested into other areas of digital presence that may make an amazing difference to services. This is one key vision for govCMS.

Other elements of the vision include making govCMS an open platform and working on integration with other third-party tools such as content personalisation. Keeping it open or an API-based exchange of information will allow agencies to bolt together the services they want.

Drupal 8 is also a key focus of the future, ensuring that govCMS supports the upgrades to the underlying Drupal technology. Lots of agencies want to move across to Drupal 8 govCMS so the govCMS team is working hard to make sure everything's in place at the platform level.

Salsa Digital

We’re saving the best (for us) to last. When talking to the govCMS team for this blog we were thrilled and flattered with all the positive feedback around our work as thought leaders and active govCMS community members. The govCMS team recognises that we genuinely want to deliver great things for government...they even said that if they had more suppliers like us they could do even more amazing things. :)

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