DTA chief touts new era of cross-jurisdiction influence

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Digital Transformation Agency has entered its third iteration, according to its newest boss, and will focus on data and cross-jurisdiction services after being stripped of its technology and service delivery responsibilities.

Chris Fechner on Wednesday said he was appointed to lead the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) into a distinctly new era, after its establishment in 2015 as a government “disruptor”, and its later move to large scale service delivery.

“The third iteration, and the one that I’ve sort of come into lead, is the one that talks about how do we leverage and maximise the value of digital [and] data for all of the country?” Mr Fechner said in one of his first public addresses since starting at the DTA last month.

“And how we can think about the massive amount of investment the Commonwealth has in that space and optimise it to deliver outcomes?”

Digital Transformation Agency chief executive Chris Fechner

Mr Fechner was brought in to lead the DTA in October, after senior technology executive roles at both the Queensland and New South Wales governments.

He joined as the federal agency was stripped of budget and service delivery responsibilities while moving from Services Australia to the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet. The DTA has been told to shift its focus towards the delivery of whole-of-government advice and strategy.

The shift has seen the DTA lose control of major federal technology projects including the COVIDSafe contact tracing app and the myGov rebuild.

Mr Fechner said the DTA’s focus now will be on exploring new technologies, prioritising government investments, “delivering on promises”, and overseeing the delivery of digital services.

“[We] make sure that citizens and businesses actually can understand the benefits they’re getting from it and that those simple, easy, fast solutions can really come out and give everybody in Australia [a benefit] and also support the digital economy of Australia to growth,” he said.

The new DTA boss also flagged more collaboration with state and territories, which have been participating in Council of Australian Governments meetings since 2019 and are working on federated data sharing and service delivery.

Mr Fechner said Australian governments have an “absolute obligation” to work together, and the pandemic had been a catalyst for more collaboration. He said the DTA is working with the most populous state on procurement policies, service delivery and making citizens’ interactions with governments more consistent.

“I think that that opportunity to just normalise the interactions with government irrespective of level, irrespective of jurisdiction, so that people can actually choose to live where they want to live but get services from where they want to get those services, is an absolutely critical part of the relationship with New South Wales in the DTA.”

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1 Comment
  1. Digital Koolaid 2 years ago

    First iteration – disrupt – FAIL. Second iteration – deliver – FAIL. Third – iteration – talk – Chris will be right for sure. Why wouldn’t he be. You sceptic! Of course the DTA can talk (and talk, and talk) about how we leverage and maximise the value of digital [and] data for all of the country. I support Chris and more talking.

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