NSW appoints first government chief digital officer

By David Donaldson

May 17, 2016

Damon Rees
Damon Rees

Former Macquarie Bank CDO Damon Rees will be New South Wales’ first government chief information and digital officer, the government announced on Tuesday.

The GCIDO will be the top technology role within the NSW government, reporting to the secretary of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation.

Individual agencies will retain chief information officers but all major ICT projects across government departments will require approval and oversight by the GCIDO.

Before being put in charge of digital at Macquarie Bank, Rees did stints as chief technology officer and interim chief information officer at Woolworths. Prior to that he spent over a decade in various jobs at Westpac, culminating with head of integrated delivery.

Minister for Finance Services and Property Dominic Perrottet outlined the role’s responsibilities at a conference last month.

“Over the past five years we have the seen in industry the role of the CIO change significantly, from someone who used to just keep the lights on this role has now evolved champions of digital initiatives in many organisations,” he said.

“Now this is no different in government. That’s why I’m pleased to announce today the NSW government is resurrecting the role of the CIO but with a slight twist.”

Titling it GCIDO — government chief information and digital officer — rather than just GCIO was a deliberate move, Perrottet explained. “This dual title reflects a dual mandate.”

Rees’ responsibilities are thus a broad spread: he will advocate for digital adoption across the NSW public sector, define the long-term vision for ICT and digital technologies, implement the NSW Open Data Policy and work to improve integration across government agencies.

The role will also entail oversight of major government ICT projects, ensuring they deliver benefits for agencies and citizens, and are delivered on time and on budget.

He’ll work together with customer service commissioner Michael Pratt to improve customer service across the bureaucracy.

Announcing the appointment on Tuesday, Perrottet said the government was committed to building digital capability.

“Damon comes with an exceptional track record in the business world, so it’s exciting to have someone of his calibre to drive the government’s digital agenda,” he said.

Rees’ whole-of-government oversight will ensure better integration across agencies and better outcomes for NSW taxpayers, said Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello.

“The GCIDO will be responsible for enforcing high standards of financial discipline on large-scale ICT projects across government. Damon will also play a critical role in accelerating the digitisation of government services,” he explained.

Rees holds a Global Executive MBA from Sydney University and a Bachelor of Technology from UTS. He’ll start the job on May 30.

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