The design system team regularly gets asked about our governance model. We’ve previously published contribution guides, our roadmap and design principles, but it’s now time to share slightly more formally about how the system is funded, managed and coordinated as it moves into the next stage of its lifecycle and we make the transition from a centralised team to a federated one.
Below is a working draft of our governance model - it aims to clearly answer common governance FAQs and ensure other teams can clearly see how the DTA is planning to maintain the product long-term.
Feel free to provide your feedback directly via this thread. We plan to eventually publish this at designsystem.gov.au/about/governance.
The Australian Government Design System (design system) is not mandatory for Australian Government agencies.
However, we believe that it is the simplest, fastest and clearest way for agencies undergoing a service redesign to meet several criteria from the mandatory Digital Service Standard:
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is the curator of the design system and related communities.
We provide online and offline platforms for the community to discuss, contribute to, adapt and extend the design system and ensure the design system continues to meet the community’s needs. The DTA is also responsible for:
- Defining and championing design principles to guide the direction and shape of the product
- Managing administrators and moderators of the design system community forum and the associated Code of Conduct
- Managing membership of the core team on our GitHub project
The DTA does not charge for the use of the design system. It is provided for use under a MIT license.
However, third-party providers may be contracted to implement or extend the design system for a project. Wherever possible, the DTA would encourage the contracting party to ensure these extensions are suitable for contributing back to the design system.
The DTA does not provide paid support for the implementation of, or extensions to, the design system.
Bugs or issues can be reported to the DTA via GitHub. The core team prioritises responses to security issues, especially where a third-party dependency is known to have a vulnerability. No service level agreements (SLAs) for responding to issues should be assumed, and issues are prioritised and resolved on a ‘best efforts’ basis.
Many sellers on the Digital Marketplace have demonstrated experience implementing the design system for agencies. Several third parties have implemented the design system on their platform or technology stack of choice, making their code available for reuse or educational purposes. The DTA encourages this behaviour, but support for those implementations cannot be offered by the design system team.
Adapting and extending
Agencies may choose to configure, adapt or modify the design system to align with their own agency’s style or branding guide. This may include configuring custom colour palettes, replacing branding imagery, substituting fonts or extending existing components.
Agencies may choose to:
- make these modifications themselves
- inherit a pre-configured system, or
- contract the modifications to a third party
Agencies are encouraged to retain as much consistency with the design system as possible. Relevant agencies also need to ensure that they maintain alignment with existing guidelines for the digital implementation of the Australian Government brand.
Code Reviews and Pull Requests (PRs)
All pull requests are subject to review, irrespective of the source.
Only members of the core team can review and approve a pull request.
The DTA is directly responsible for all code on the master branch of design system GitHub repositories.
Users of the design system are not required to report their implementations or usage of the design system to the DTA.
The DTA does not undertake reviews of, or report on, implementations of the design system for consistency or conformance.
However, the DTA tracks usage of design system components using a combination of:
- NPM download statistics
- Markup signatures detected in the whole-of-government web crawl
- Users’ self-reporting via the community forum
If you are using the design system (even in a non-public environment), please let us know.
As adoption and maturity of the design system has increased, the core team has moved towards using a federated model for collaborating on and contributing to the product. As a result, working on the design system is no longer a full-time role for any core team member.
Each core team member is directly involved in the design, development and delivery of one or more whole-of-government digital services. This ensures that the design system is deployed appropriately on those services and provides a strong feedback loop between real-world implementations and the design system product roadmap.
Membership of the core team is currently comprised of DTA staff.
Core contributors are expected to have a background in at least two of the following: front-end design, front-end engineering, full-stack development, accessibility, content design, user research, interaction design or user experience design.
We are considering broadening membership to include trusted individuals or organisations who demonstrate appropriate experience and operate in accordance with the APS Code of Conduct. If you like to nominate someone as a potential member of the core team, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributions and Attributions
The DTA is responsible for reviewing, attributing and potentially accepting all contributions received in the form of code, design, research or discussion. Detailed contribution guides are maintained by the core team as CONTRIBUTING.md files in all relevant GitHub repositories.
While not all contributions can be accepted into the design system, all contributions will be automatically attributed to the authoring individual or organisation.