Risk-averse and tech-backwards bureaucrats are hampering the push for agile and innovative Australian government, according to high-tech start-up firms.

Emerging technology firms say government contracts remain sown up by multinational “dinosaurs” like IBM, SAP and Accenture, despite high-profile stuff-ups, because they are masters of federal government’s painfully bureaucratic tender process.

Public servants who do not know what technological solutions are available are another inhibitor of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation drive, with too few bureaucrats willing to explore or experiment.

But there is hope, with one digital marketing firm saying the reboot of the Digital Transformation Office – now the Digital Transformation Agency – was taking government tech in the right direction.

Sydney start-up URGE  offers a  Yellow Pages-style directory of businesses who can communicate with their customers via text or live web-chat.

CEO and co-founder Doron Ostrin says URGE, or technology like it, could make all the difference to Centrelink’s dismal customer service performance.