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Telstra digital government expert joins Keenan’s office


Telstra’s head of global foresight, Dr Jack Dan, has joined Minister Michael Keenan’s office as senior adviser for digital transformation.

He will be supporting Keenan in his capacity as the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation. Keenan is also Minister for the Department of Human Services, the central service delivery agency for the federal government.

Dan led Telstra’s research and thought leadership program for several years and, in 2016, authored a major research report titled Connected Government. Dan completed his doctorate at ANU in the early part of the previous decade. His research was on the application of cognitive analysis in mass communication and advertising.

His appointment comes as the Government ramps up its data analytics and policy play, recently announcing the appointment of a Data Commissioner to oversee the exchange and integration of data across agencies and jurisdictions. And the creation of a consumer data right, which is to be initially deployed across the banking, telco and energy sectors.  This week’s federal budget committed $65 million to implement the new rights regime.

Bedding down a workable digital identity system, building deep cyber resilience deeply across the long tail of federal government agencies, and the rapid development of easy-to-use integrated services remain major challenges for the government.

The government has committed $92 million in the next fiscal year for the Digital Transformation Agency to continue to develop its govpass identity solution.

The Digital Transformation Agency reports up to Keenan. The agency was reformed and renamed last year, and a new CEO, Gavin Slater, appointed from NAB. This followed a controversial period for the agency, under the leadership of former UK digital government executive, Paul Shetler.

The budget also included major commitments to upgrade the government’s digital infrastructure.

Dan’s appointment comes while there is a changing of the guard with Telstra’s government relations team. Telstra’s longtime group executive for corporate affairs, Dr Tony Warren, left to take up a similar public affairs role with ANZ last spring. Warren’s role has been picked up by Telstra’s former company secretary, Carmel Mulhern.

The telco’s director of government relations, James Shaw, recently announced his retirement from Telstra, and his role is being recruited for now. Shaw had previously held senior ministerial and departmental roles in government.

Telstra has major regulatory and vendor relationships with government. The telco is the third largest supplier of ICT services to the Commonwealth, securing 7 per cent of the government’s annual $9 billion spend in 2015-16, according to last year’s ICT procurement review by Prime Minister and Cabinet. This include major business service contracts with the Department of Defence.

Author Bio

Tom Burton

Tom Burton is publisher of The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He has served in various public administration roles, specialising in the media and communications sector. He was a Walkley Award-winning journalist and executive editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He worked as Canberra bureau chief for the Australian Financial Review and as managing editor of smh.com.au. He most recently worked at the Australian Communications and Media Authority.