New digital agency to lead Australian e-government push

By on 18/10/2016 | Updated on 04/02/2022
Paul Shetler (pictured left), currently the chief executive of the Digital Transformation Office in Australia, will take on the newly-created role of chief digital officer

A ‘Digital Transformation Agency’ is to be formed to deliver what has been billed as a far-reaching shake-up in the digital capabilities of Australian government departments.

The DTA will supersede the Digital Transformation Office, which was launched in 2015 to coordinate digitisation efforts across government. The new agency was the centrepiece of proposals outlined by Australia’s federal government at the end of last week, with the aim of improving the delivery of online public services and liberalising public ICT procurement.

The new body will have a beefed up remit, taking on responsibility for coordinating all government ICT policy and procurement functions – hitherto the preserve of the Department of Finance. It will also continue the work of its predecessor, including the rollout of the Digital Marketplace designed to open up government technology contracts to a wider range of suppliers. The DTO launched the marketplace in beta form in August this year following close collaboration with its counterpart in the UK, the Government Digital Service.

Paul Shetler, the chief executive of the DTO – who was interviewed by Global Government Forum in February – is to take on a newly-created role of chief digital officer. Nerida O’Loughlin, deputy secretary of Australia’s Department of Communications and the Arts, will take the reins as interim chief executive of the newly formed agency.

Angus Taylor, assistant minister for digital transformation, said: “We are more mobile, more connected and more digitally-reliant than ever before. Government needs to consistently challenge itself, to ensure world-leading practices are being employed to make Australians’ lives simpler.

“As more government services are digitised, integration across agencies is paramount to delivering world’s best practice [sic]. Importantly, the new agency will comprise a small high-calibre programme management office to manage strategy and manage integration of the digital transformation agenda across all of government.”

Alongside the new agency, the Australian government is also planning to create a new ‘digital transformation advisory board’ drawn from the private and public sectors to advise the minister’s office.

Trade body the Australian Information Industry Association will be one of the government’s advisers on the expanded digital agenda. Its chief executive Rob Fitzpatrick said: “Digital transformation of Australia’s economy is critical to driving our nation’s long-term growth and prosperity. I have always maintained that as the biggest spender of ICT services, government should be the exemplar of that change. While today’s announcement should drive greater efficiency and effectiveness of government services, more importantly it also supports our need to demonstrate digital leadership, maintain our global competitiveness, and drive our growth agenda.”

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See also:

Paul Shetler, chief executive, Digital Transformation Office, government of Australia: Exclusive interview

Chris Baggoley retires as Australia’s chief medical officer

Michelle Fitzgerald, chief digital officer, City of Melbourne: interview

Jane Halton, Secretary, Department of Finance, Australia: Exclusive interview


About Ben Willis

Ben Willis is a journalist and editor with a varied background reporting on topics including public policy, the environment, renewable energy and international development. His work has appeared in a variety of national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, as well as numerous specialist business, policy and consumer publications.

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