Introducing Rules as Code

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What is Rules as Code?

Australia's regulatory landscape includes an array of legislation, regulations, standards, and policies. Managing this regulatory environment can lead to delays in decision-making, creating complexities for Australian citizens, businesses, and government to understand and comply with their obligations, rules and requirements.

This is where Rules as Code (RaC) comes in to make things easier for people. RaC helps people to understand their obligations and entitlements by turning legislation, regulation, standards, and policies into machine readable code which can be understood and interpreted by computers. This code then powers user interfaces like web forms, enabling users to input information and receive instant answers. By leveraging this technology, people don’t need to make phone calls or fill out forms that require manual processing before they receive an answer.

RaC streamlines interaction with the Australian Government and enhances efficiency, providing immediate responses to enquiries using RaC driven user interfaces. The encoded legislation (“the rules”) exist alongside the original version (it doesn’t replace it) to facilitate digital service delivery.

What are we doing?

GovCMS ran a series of experimental projects in 2022 exploring digital experience tools that entities could implement to enhance citizen experiences using government websites.

One experimental project focused on Rules as Code (RaC) which represents legislation, regulation rules, and government policy as machine readable rules to deliver simpler, personalised digital user journeys for citizens.

In November 2023, GovCMS announced the first supplier selected to provide Digital Experience Platform (DXP) tools and content personalisation services that entities may now procure via the Drupal Services Panel (DSP).

GovCMS commenced concept and discovery phase work to implement RaC at enterprise scale, making it available to all government entities using the GovCMS platform. This phase of the project will run for approximately 12 months.

Rules as Code and GovCMS

We’re providing the tools and design expertise so government entities using the GovCMS platform can explore, test and learn how Rules as Code works. Government digital teams can apply for a "Rules as Code sandpit" with an opportunity to run an experimental project for 6-12 months.

A Rules as Code sandpit will involve a working partnership between your agency, the Department of Finance and Salsa Digital where a limited set of rules will be mapped, coded and a working prototype created. The prototype can then be showcased to your agency to demonstrate how Rules as Code can be applied to your business area for the benefit of all Australians. 

Contact us for more information on the Rules as Code trial

Benefits of Rules as Code? 

Rules as Code can be applied to a wide range of applications, including:

  • helping Australian citizens and residents to find and understand information around their obligations, available benefits, or requirements for running community activities in line with legal requirements, 
  • ensuring greater certainty for international visitors such as understanding requirements for conducting business in Australia, studying here, or coming to visit,
  • assisting government agencies with drafting and comparison activities for new policy or legislation to help identify inconsistencies before implementation,
  • improving efficiency, fairness and promoting a greater understanding of the human impact of legislation and policy. 

A significant benefit of turning rules into code is that it promotes greater transparency, for the steps and outcomes are built on clearly defined foundations and the flow is logical and repeatable. 

Another key benefit of Rules as Code is version control. When a rule changes, it can be audited and traced over time ensuring ongoing transparency. In short, Rules as Code reduces the time it takes for decisions, creating more efficient services.

Making rules machine readable promotes connected services and increased innovation, helping government meet the Australian Digital Economy 2030 goals (Digital Economy Strategy 2022 Update Released | PM&C (

Turning legislation into code

Prescriptive rules which have firm requirements and well-defined outcomes are best suited for coding. This way the rules can be given simple answers such as yes/no, a choice from a defined list, or numerical values to provide an outcome.

An example of RaC already in use is the NSW Government’s Community gaming check. This service enables someone to confirm if a community gaming activity or trade promotion needs permission before it can go ahead.

The website uses a web form to guide users through a series of questions and provide an answer in line with New South Wales laws set out in the Community Gaming Act 2018 and Community Gaming Regulation 2020. You get an immediate answer at the end of the form.

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