DTA chief takes back APS Digital Profession duties

Digital Transformation Agency chief Chris Fechner will steer the Australia Public Service’s central digital capability building program after being appointed the new head of the Digital Profession.

Mr Fechner will become the new “champion for growth of digital capability” for a two-year term from January, returning some oversight for the program to the DTA at a time of a significant skills shortage.

He replaces chair of Austrade’s Simplified Trade Systems Taskforce and former DTA chief Randal Brugeaud, who has led the Digital Profession program since it was created in April 2020.

The program aims to improve the digital capability of the APS and attract new tech savvy professionals to the service. It also provides a more formalised public service career pathways in tech-based roles.

DTA CEO Chris Fechner

Mr Brugeaud continued as head of the Digital Profession even after he left the DTA in July 2021, despite the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) assuming responsibility for it from the DTA.

The DTA was stripped of its responsibility for the program in July 2021as part of a significant restructure that saw its role shift to policy advice and strategy rather than service delivery.

As reported by InnovationAus.com, more than half of all staff at the agency left in the 12 months after the restructure, with the agency’s separation rate reaching a record high of 60.6 per cent.

At the time, the APSC said the change “strengthens the opportunity to build digital capability across the public service”, and would ensure closer alignment with its broader APS responsibilities.

APS Commissioner Peter Woolcott appointed Mr Fechner on Tuesday, with his term to begin after Mr Brugeaud finishes his term as head of the Digital Profession in December 2022.

In a statement, the DTA said Mr Fechner will “play a strong advocacy role, influencing APS agencies to strengthen digital capability at an individual and enterprise level by pursuing initiatives that attract and retain quality talent, and support diver career paths”.

Mr Fechner said he was “honoured and excited to lead the Digital Profession and drive increased digital professional capabilities”, working with the APSC, other government partners and industry.

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