​Gavin Slater exits Digital Transformation Agency

The ex-NAB executive will hand the CEO position over to ABS' deputy Australian statistician Randall Brugeaud.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor
Screenshot: Asha Barbaschow/ZDNet

Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) chief executive Gavin Slater will be leaving the organisation, a little over a year after he left the National Australia Bank to become the federal government's second transformation lead.

Slater took the reigns over from Paul Shetler in May last year.

"During his time as CEO, Mr Slater has played a significant role in helping to drive the government's digital transformation agenda, while also overseeing procurement reform and the delivery of simpler and faster government services," a statement from Minister for Human Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said on Friday.

"It has been a privilege and an honour to lead the government's digital transformation during this period," Slater said of his departure.

Slater recently returned from a seven week, self-funded educational trip in the United States, during which time his position was filled by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) deputy Australian statistician Randall Brugeaud.

Brugeaud will be replacing Slater next month.

The new CEO previous held a number roles across the public and private sectors, including as chief information officer of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Brugeaud will be the DTA's third official CEO in as many years.

During his short tenure, Slater led the DTA through a handful of initiatives, and defended his agency at-length from senator probes over the less than desirable state of a some federal government IT projects.

Must read: The 14 government IT projects on the DTA's 'engage' list worth over AU$10m

Meanwhile, inaugural CEO Shetler was personally selected by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to lead the government's own disruptor back in 2015. He had returned from the United Kingdom where he was responsible for leading a similar government initiative -- one the then-Digital Transformation Office (DTO) was closely built on.

Turnbull, who was communications minister at the time, said Shetler was bringing with him 20 years' experience in leading IT and business transformation projects.

A year into his role, Shetler said the DTO had already made plenty of progress. But by October, the DTO had been superseded by the DTA and Shetler, who had already moved into the position of chief digital officer from CEO, hung up his boots shortly after the name and remit change.

After he left, Shetler was vocal on his distrust in government service delivery, commenting early last year, for example, that the error rate in the Centrelink "robo-debt" data-matching process was so "unfathomably high that it would send a commercial enterprise out of business".

"The justifications that have been given I think are just another example of the culture of 'good news', reporting only good news up through the bureaucracy," he said at the time.

"I'm sure that the bureaucracy was being told at every single level that everything was OK. That's how it works in the bureaucracy. Bad news is not welcomed, and when bad news comes, they try to shift the blame."


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