New Digital Transformation Agency CEO appointed


Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

Christopher Fechner has been appointed to lead the Digital Transformation Agency, as the office undergoes a significant restructuring and refocus.

Employment Minister Stuart Robert announced on Wednesday that Mr Fechner, currently the Queensland government’s inaugural chief digital officer, had been appointed as the new chief executive officer of the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), after former boss Randall Brugeaud stood down in mid-June to take on a new trade taskforce role.

Christopher Fechner. Image: LinkedIn.

DTA chief operating officer Peter Alexander has been serving as acting chief executive since Mr Brugeuad left the agency three months ago.

Mr Fechner will start on October 13 and will be the third permanent chief executive of the DTA since it was rebranded in October 2016, following Gavin Slater and Mr Brugeaud.

His appointment is for a period of five years.

Mr Fechner has served in state government digital roles for more than five years. He was appointed as Queensland’s first ever chief customer and digital officer in January last year, after serving as the digital chief at Service NSW for about nine months.

Before that, Mr Fechner was chief information officer at the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment.

Mr Fechner will lead the DTA through a period of significant change after the agency was moved from Services Australia to the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet earlier this year and was handed a new remit and a major funding cut.

The DTA has been told to shift its focus from service delivery and project management towards the delivery of whole-of-government advice and strategy. This has seen the DTA lose responsibility for a number of key programs, including digital identity, the COVIDSafe contact tracing app, and the myGov rebuild.

Mr Robert said the DTA has a “key role to play in delivering the government’s ambitious digital transformation agenda”.

“Mr Fechner will bring proven and strong leadership to the DTA, as it plays its key role in our ambitious push to become one of the top three digital governments in the world by 2025,” Mr Robert said.

“Mr Fechner’s experience in senior digital roles within the Queensland and New South Wales governments will serve the DTA well in driving this key government priority.”

Mr Brugeaud announced he was standing down as DTA chief executive in mid-June to take on a new role as chair of the Department of Trade’s Simplified Trade Systems Implementation Taskforce.

This year’s federal budget featured a “large reduction” in the DTA’s funding and responsibility, with a cut of about $90 million. The DTA’s staffing level is also to be cut from 255 to 227 full-time employees.

The DTA has ditched a number of its key programs, including its Performance Dashboard for tracking the performance of government digital services, and the Government Design System.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

3 Comments
  1. Daniel Nicholls 2 months ago
    Reply

    This was advertised on APS jobs and an executive search company was appointed to support with the search and selection process.

  2. Karl Reed 2 months ago
    Reply

    The problem for Government is that undertakes very large public facing IT services. It MUST have the technical expertise to assess and to manage these. Public facing IT systems (web based etc.) are nolonger “private” matters between a company and its customers, or, to those inside the company. They now effect multiple of 100,000’sa of thousands of people. And, assessing and managing their creation requires a highly technical set of competences. Who checked the feasibility of Covidsafe before it was announced? To an oldie with some back ground in radio engineering, it was obvious that it was unlikely to be feasible. But it went ahead.
    I can write pages about this!

  3. Digital Koolaid 2 months ago
    Reply

    Did anyone see this role advertised? Maybe these days the Minister gets to “appoint” without advertising, applications, interviews or competition. I can’t remember Randall ever putting in an application. I might be wrong but wasn’t he handed the job without competition? Chris is probably a great guy, I don’t know, but every minister gets to “appoint” someone at the DTA. Turnbull just appointed Shetler without competition. Taylor appointed O’Loughlan and Slater. Keenan appointed Brugeuad and now Roberts appoints Fechner. No need to brush up on your interview skills guys. There are no interviews. Just get appointed.

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