Spooks hunt tech leaders for innovation and data push

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Australia’s lead national intelligence agency is searching for senior tech executives to build out its joint capabilities with researchers and other intelligence agencies, as it presses ahead with an ambitious cloud project.

The Office of National Intelligence (ONI) on Friday posted job listings that include a Deputy Director-General, Digital and Technology role and a leader for its new Digital and Data Division.

It is unclear what this means for the ONI’s current Deputy Director-General – Technology and Capability, Dr Paul Taloni.

According to the job listing, a new Deputy Director-General, Digital and Technology will be charged with developing ONI’s own technology capabilities and “delivering digital and technology leadership” for Australia’s National Intelligence Community (NIC).

The NIC includes Australia’s spy and defence intelligence agencies and is headed by the ONI, which acts as the point of accountability and advice to the government.

The ONI was established in 2017 out of the Independent Intelligence Review that urged the NIC to work more collaboratively.

The agency in 2022 established a Cyber and Critical Technology Intelligence Centre for intelligence agencies to collaborate on innovation and fund research partners.

The ONI’s new Deputy Director-General will be in charge of building these research partnerships through the centre to take advantage of emerging technologies.

The position is Senior Executive Service Band Three, meaning it is highly paid and requires highly advanced executive management experience.

The ONI is also recruiting a Senior Executive Band Two role to manage its new Digital and Data Division. The role’s key duties include delivering modern and resilient ICT services that enable data driven decision making and sharing with other NIC members.

An ambitious private cloud project to share some of the most sensitive data among agencies is underway at the ONI but has had a bumpy start after preferred supplier Microsoft walked away from a procurement in 2022.

Microsoft’s late exit from the Top Secret Cloud project angered top officials at Defence and within the intelligence establishment, casting doubt on its future.

But in a rare update last month, ONI head Andrew Shearer confirmed the project is being pursued and will eventually share “vast amounts of data” between NIC agencies for collaborative work.

The ONI was contacted for comment.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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