Topics: Digital Transformation; ICT Strategy; Innovation; NSW.
Former Macquarie Bank Chief Information Officer (CIO) Damon Rees has been appointed as the first New South Wales Whole-of-Government (WofG) Chief Information and Digital Officer (GCIDO), assuming the IT responsibilities of Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Secretary Martin Hoffman.
Rees’s appointment is the cherry on top of a series of modifications to the state’s ICT governance structure that accompanied the updated Digital + 2016 ICT Strategy. The barely six-month-old ICT update will be replaced by the new innovation strategy later this month, which will represent the next phase of digital government aimed at consolidation and innovation.
Hoffman’s position as Secretary previously incorporated the role of WofG CIO for NSW – a move initiated by Michael Coutts-Trotter when he was Finance Secretary. A spokesperson from the department has told Intermedium that "the GCIDO will take responsbility as the Whole of Government Chief Information Officer."
The state’s Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet expects the appointment will help meet its promise to maintain NSW’s position as a leader in digital service delivery.
“Damon comes with an exceptional track record in the business world, so it’s exciting to have someone of his calibre to drive the Government’s digital agenda,” Perrottet said.
NSW currently leads Intermedium’s Digital Government Readiness Indicator, with the appointment likely to put further distance between NSW and other states and territories on the ‘ICT governance’ metric.
Reporting to Perrottet and Hoffman, Rees’s primary role will be to oversee all major ICT projects and ensure they are delivered on time and to budget. Although individual agencies will retain their Chief Information Officers, all major ICT projects will now require the GCIDO’s seal of approval and his ongoing supervision.
Rees will also be responsible for the NSW Open Data Policy, and defining the long-term vision for ICT and digital technologies.
He has experience overseeing business wide projects in the private sector, including as Chief Technology Officer and interim CIO of Woolworths, and Head of Integrated Delivery with Westpac.
Despite the appointment being in NSW, it is consistent with Professor Shergold’s call for more diversity within the senior ranks of the Australian Public Service in his Learning from Failure report released in early 2016. According to Shergold, a more ‘permeable’ public service will increase awareness about the private market and innovations outside of government, and reduce internal thinking.
The appointment of a GCIDO is the latest in a series of changes to ICT governance and leadership in the NSW public service more widely.
To complement the strategic leadership appointments, the NSW Government has restructured their ICT-related councils and committees to better reflect their WofG ambitions. These changes include the addition of a Digital Council, and the replacement of the ICT Advisory Panel with the Digital Government Advisor Panel.
The Digital Council was formed in 2015 with the core goal of “demonstrating that using a digital approach and putting customers at the centre of service design will deliver better outcomes for citizens.” Chaired by NSW Customer Service Commissioner Michael Pratt, the Council will build on the work done by the Accelerating Digital Government Taskforce. This initially included, in collaboration with Service NSW, the development of digital licences and the MyServiceNSW online account.
Taking on former commitments of the ICT Advisory Panel, the replacement Digital Government Advisory Panel will provide industry-based advice to the ICT Board on how to build smart, nimble government through the better use of technology. The Panel is chaired by Martin Stewart-Weeks and consists primarily of high-level representatives from industry.
Like NSW, the South Australian Government is also in the process of developing an innovation strategy. Unlike the NSW, SA’s will complement its recently updated WofG ICT strategy, SA Connected, rather than replace it. The state is also considering rationalising its ministerial responsibilities, and will potentially establish an independent and centralised innovation agency called ‘AccelerateSA’.