NSW appoints former Macquarie Bank CDO to drive digital agenda

The NSW government has appointed Damon Rees as the first government chief information and digital officer to advocate for digital adoption across the state's public sector.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The New South Wales government has announced the appointment of Damon Rees as the state's first government chief information and digital officer (GCIDO).

Rees was previously at Macquarie Bank, where he was the chief digital officer. He was also formerly the chief technology officer and interim chief information officer at Woolworths, having earlier served as the head of integrated delivery at Westpac.

Announcing the creation of the role earlier this month, Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet said the GCIDO was a modern spin on the traditional CIO, with the addition of the word digital in line with the accelerating use of digital services.

"This role has now evolved to be one of the most significant champions of digital initiatives in many organisations. This is no different in government," Perrotett said at the time.

"This dual title reflects a dual mandate to appropriately manage and secure the government structures of key ICT projects within government, as well as working with the customer service commissioner to drive the customer-first mentality across government agencies."

As the senior technology role within NSW government, Rees will report to the Secretary of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation. Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello said the new GCIDO will oversee all major IT projects with the aim of ensuring they are delivered on time, on budget, and deliver benefits for agencies and citizens.

"The GCIDO will be responsible for enforcing high standards of financial discipline on large-scale IT projects across government. Damon will also play a critical role in accelerating the digitisation of government services," Dominello said.

Individual agencies within the state government will keep their respective CIOs; however, all major IT projects across government departments will require approval and oversight by the GCIDO.

As part of his appointment, Rees is expected to advocate for digital adoption across the NSW public sector, define a long-term vision for IT and digital technologies, implement the NSW Open Data Policy, and improve cross-agency integration.

Following Malcolm Turnbull's AU$1.1 billion innovation initiative, Dominello revealed in February that he had pencilled in May for unveiling the state's first innovation policy.

Although tight-lipped on the content of the agenda, Dominello did say the policy will have a key focus on data analytics and how to utilise it to cut state costs.

"One of the things we're doing is around commercialisation -- how we can invest in the NSW economy in the data age and a lot of that will be around what powerful formulas we have that can include social outcomes where governments are spending more than they need to," he said.

The NSW government became the frontrunner in digitalising its services in July 2014, launching Service NSW to bring together a number of different state services under the one office, including RMS; Births, Deaths and Marriages; and small business support.

In the 2015-16 Budget, Service NSW was slated to receive AU$362 million to increase the number of digital interactions between consumers and government, and to roll out a further 27 one-stop shops across the state. As of February 2016, the Service NSW website showed that there were 95 shopfronts across the state.

A Service NSW smartphone app for iOS and Android was then launched, with an update added in February to enable users to view, pay, and contest infringement notices.

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