Turnbull neglect triggers digital agency shakeup

Opinion 2A lack of focus and neglect has forced the Turnbull Government to finally reshape its flagging Digital Transformation Office. But this seems more like a tinker than a serious overhaul of the government’s own engine for digital change.

The Government must promise that additional procurement responsibilities don’t slow down the main task of improving government’s digital service to Australians.

While Labor was supportive of the creation of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO), we have been critical of the Turnbull Government’s inability to focus the DTO’s work on making concrete improvements to federal government services.

The DTO has appeared to lack the right senior personnel, was affected by staff turnover and failed to be transparent or responsive in its work plan. At times it’s ignored major service shortcomings in federal agencies while diverting its attention to helping state or territory governments.

It’s been unable to finalise key work, such as the efforts to deliver outcomes via the National Digital Identity project

And it’s also suffered as its chief patron – the Prime Minister – has moved off to champion other thought bubbles that have spectacularly burst over the last year.

A cosmetic name change – to the Digital Transformation Agency – is no antidote to the problems confronting the agency’s work. On the face of it the idea of bringing ICT procurement within the responsibilities of the Digital Transformation Agency makes sense.

But the Turnbull Government needs to guarantee that this huge new responsibility will not overwhelm or distract the agency from its main job: using technology to improve the way government services are delivered to all Australians.

Claire Moore, Labor Senator for Queensland

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