Four months into its tenure the revitalised Coalition Government has already seen a number of senior public servants with strong technology and innovation credentials ascend in Canberra.
The bulk of the changes have occurred at agencies that will drive the government’s ongoing Digital Transformation Agenda, as well as those that are considered central actors in the new National Innovation and Science Agenda.
Current Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Heather Smith will replace Drew Clarke as Secretary at the Department of Communications from 25 January 2016. Smith had worked closely with the government’s Digital Transformation Agenda, having headed up Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s taskforce on innovation and public data policy. Drew Clarke has already moved to become Turnbull’s Chief of Staff at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The personnel change is the second at Communications since November after Chief Information Officer Megan Henry was replaced by former Assistant Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department Shaun McGuiggan.
Communications is the third agency in a month to have signalled leadership change at the Secretary level following the December announcement that PMC Secretary Michael Thawley would retire from the role in late January 2016, followed by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Peter Varghese in July 2016. Former Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson will take over as PMC Secretary.
Another driving force behind digital transformation, Department of Finance Director for Gov 2.0 and Coordination Pia Waugh also moved to PMC in late 2015 to become Director of Data Infrastructure, according to her LinkedIn. This reflects an Administrative Arrangements Order made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull which saw public data policy matters, including Gov 2.0, shifted to PMC. Waugh had previously worked under Australian Government Chief Technology Officer and Procurement Coordinator John Sheridan in the Technology and Procurement Division at Finance.
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Chief Information Officer Mathew Boyley switched to the AGD in October, according to his LinkedIn. ICT Development Branch General Manager Neil Kinsella is acting in the interim despite the DIIS soon beginning to work with the Digital Transformation Office to simplify the process of starting a business.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will lose First Assistant Secretary of the Identity and Biometrics Division Gavin McCairns, after almost 10 years at the agency. McCairns has already started as CEO at the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), according to his LinkedIn.
During McCairns’ time at the agency DIBP has increased its focus on the use of biometrics, introducing smart technologies to streamline passenger processing at Australian airports and IBM’s cognitive computing platform Watson to uncover trends in large volumes of unstructured data.
A factual error which was spotted immediately after publication has now been corrected.