Stuart Robert will still have significant influence over government service delivery and digital transformation despite a new ministerial position, with ongoing roles in two major Cabinet committees.
Mr Robert was announced as the new Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business last month after serving as government services minister since mid-2019. He had been previously rumoured to be taking over as Home Affairs minister as part of this reshuffle.
While Mr Robert didn’t get that major role, his influence on government policy will likely still increase this year, including on the planned refresh to the digital transformation strategy.
With the dual role as chair of the service delivery committee and a new member of the expenditure review committee, Mr Robert will play a prominent role in overseeing the government’s digital transformation and service delivery, and on the spending behind it.
He has been appointed to the influential Cabinet expenditure review committee, which deals with government spending around the budget and MYEFO, and is chaired by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with whom Mr Robert has a close relationship.
Mr Robert will also remain as chair of the Service Delivery and Coordination Committee, despite no longer being the relevant minister.
The chairs of this committee are not always appointed based on their ministerial portfolio, and Mr Robert will be remaining in the role after being appointed following another reshuffle last year, where he took over from now Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan.
The Service Delivery and Coordination Committee looks at the implementation of the government’s key priorities in the area, including connected service delivery and communications.
While Linda Reynolds, who is on extended health leave from Parliament, is now the responsible minister, Mr Robert will still be closely involved with the government’s digital transformation efforts, including the significant myGov rebuild, the digital identity scheme and the upcoming refresh of the digital transformation strategy.
Mr Robert announced late last year that the Digital Transformation Agency would be updating the strategy, which was first unveiled in late 2018. The strategy’s primary aim is to make all government services available digitally by 2025.
The new strategy will take into account the changed nature of service delivery due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased demand for these services.
The DTA released a discussion paper on the new strategy late last year, with feedback due by the end of 2020.
Mr Robert also oversaw the launch of the new Services Australia department in late 2019, replacing the former Department of Human Services.
The government services portfolio includes significant tech projects including digital identity, the myGov rebuild, the internal cloud uplift scheme, the COVIDSafe app and the new data-sharing scheme which is currently the subject of a senate inquiry.
It also includes oversight of the government’s IT procurement through the DTA, which has seen a sharp uptick in spending on contractors and consultants in recent years.
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