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Heads up: Brugeaud ushered in as DTA leader number 3

by Poppy Johnston •
Free resource

Randall Brugeaud has been appointed the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA) third leader since the then-Digital Transformation Office was established in July 2015.

Brugeaud will replace Gavin Slater as Chief Executive Officer, who only recently returned from a leave of absence to complete a business short-course at Harvard University.

Slater is departing the agency at the end of this month.

Brugeaud was previously Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), and has most recently held a high-level position at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as deputy Australian Statistician and Chief Operating Officer.

The new appointment marks the third leadership change at the DTA in three years. As part of replacement of the DTO with the DTA in October 2016, then-DTO CEO Paul Shetler was appointed the government’s first Chief Digital Officer before he resigned soon after in late 2016.

Nerida O’Loughlin was appointed as interim CEO of the new DTA for a short period before former National Australia Bank executive Gavin Slater assumed the role as permanent CEO in April 2017.

The late-2016 changes to the organisation and Slater’s appointment included a much larger remit for the DTA, with the agency picking up additional responsibilities and adopting a broader change management agenda to replace the ‘disruptor’ agenda championed by the DTO under Shetler.

According to the AFR, Shetler’s decision to leave the public service was a result of a “philosophical disagreement” with Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor about the role of the DTO, with Shetler favouring a delivery-focused unit with responsibility for both back-end systems and user-facing interfaces.

From the outset, Shetler’s permanent replacement had a different approach to managing digital transformation. Slater was intent on accommodating the particular challenges of the public sector, with his first order of business to “repair relationships” with agencies.

Brugeaud will bring his own significant transformation experience to the DTA’s top job. Notably, Brugeaud headed up an ambitious transformation and integration program at the former Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), which has recently been incorporated into the Department of Home Affairs.

In mid-2014, Brugeaud became CIO of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) in anticipation of the agency’s consolidation with the then-Department of Immigration, filling the role vacated by Rachel Noble.

Brugeaud then worked with then-DIPB CIO Matt Yannopoulos to create a blended ICT capability at the newly-created DIPB, which in February 2015 saw the creation of both an ICT Division, which Yannopoulos led as CIO, and a Major Capability Division, which was led by Brugeaud.

Yannopoulos then left to become CIO at the Health department, leaving Brugeaud to step in as DIBP CIO and continue the massive program to streamline and reform the disparate ICT environment resulting from the Immigration-Customs merger.

Brugeaud then moved to the ABS to lead the agency’s $250 million transformation program. This was less than twelve months after the agency’s well-publicised 'census debacle' in August 2016.

Announcing Brugeaud’s appointment in a press release on Friday, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said he is “confident that Mr Brugeaud’s knowledge of the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation, combined with an ability to work effectively across government, make him ideal to lead the DTA as it develops and grows into its next phase.”

“I look forward to working with Mr Brugeaud to deliver on the Government’s vision of being one of the top 3 digital governments in the world by 2025”, Keenan said.

In the Minister's brief time as the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation, Keenan has now seen the departure of his two most senior ICT executives - Gary Sterrenberg at Human Services in December 2017 and now Slater from the DTA. Their departure also at least temporarily brings to an end the reign of ex-Banking technologists in government.

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