Digital Transformation Agency CEO Randall Brugeaud is set to leave at the end of the month, after three years in the role, with the agency facing a significant funding cut and major restructuring.
Mr Brugeaud notified DTA staff of the decision in an email on Friday morning, saying that he has been appointed to chair the new Simplified Trade Systems Implementation Taskforce in the Department of Trade.
In the email, seen by InnovationAus, Mr Brugeaud said it was a “hard decision”, and his last day at the DTA will be 30 June.
“I know this will come as a surprise to many of you, but the combination of the upcoming changes to the DTA and the urgency of filling the role I’ll be moving into means that the change needs to happen quickly,” Mr Brugeaud said in the email.
“Our work is and will continue to be important and I’m confident that the next evolution of the DTA achieves everything the government and the APS hopes to achieve.”
With Mr Brugeaud leaving the agency in less than two weeks, it’s unclear whether his replacement has already been lined up or if a recruitment process is underway.
The DTA is in the midst of a significant restructuring after being moved from Services Australia to the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet in April. This coincided with a large funding and resourcing cut to the agency, and a shifted focus from service delivery and project management to delivering whole of government advice and strategy.
Mr Brugeaud was appointed as CEO in July 2018 after serving as the deputy Australian Statistician, and previously as the chief information officer at the Department of Immigration.
His new role at the Simplified Trade Systems Implementation Taskforce will focus on cutting red tape around trade regulations and modernising outdated ICT systems, and will see Mr Burgeaud serving under trade minister Dan Tehan.
“In true DTA spirit, we’ll be taking a user focused approach to streamlining trade and border processes for Australian importers and exporters,” Mr Brugeaud said.
The DTA was launched in 2015 as a pet project of then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, originally named the Digital Transformation Office and sitting in the communications department.
In the time since it has moved across departments, with varying levels of influence on government policy and projects.
It was renamed to the DTA and moved to Prime Minister & Cabinet in 2016, before being shifted to the Department of Social Services and later Services Australia until earlier this year.
Mr Brugeaud said he remains confident in the DTA’s ability to achieve its goals and objectives.
“Our work and our operating environment have been challenging, but we’ve been able to drive forward the whole of government digital and ICT agenda and deliver great outcomes for the people and businesses of Australia,” he said.
The DTA has not been without controversy, with the agency experiencing continually high levels of staff turnover, and large spending on consultants in recent years.
Under the changes announced earlier this year, the DTA also lost control of several of its most significant projects, including digital identity and the redevelopment of myGov.
The DTA also led the development and rollout of the controversial COVIDSafe contact tracing app last year, which thrust the agency into the national spotlight.
The Simplified Trade Systems Implementation Taskforce was announced by Mr Tehan and employment minister Stuart Robert on Friday morning.
“Mr Brugeaud is uniquely qualified to work hand in hand with businesses to design and implement a cross-border trade system that meets their needs,” Mr Tehan said.
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