Australian government’s digital chief, Gavin Slater, moves on


The Australian government has lost its latest chief digital officer after Digital Transformation Agency CEO, Gavin Slater, told the government he could not personally commit the time needed to manage the major government stakeholders in Canberra.

Slater has been in the job for 12 months and has commuted between Canberra and Melbourne, where his family lives.

Slater leaves at the end of the month and will return to the private sector. He follows the interim CEO Nerida O’Loughlin who has since taken over as the chair of ACMA, and the previous appointed CEO, Paul Shetler, who controversially resigned after only 16 months at the helm.

This came after Shetler’s combative, disruptive style irked many in Canberra and saw the DTA (known then as the Digital Transformation Office) struggle to be effective among the digital giants of Canberra, the ATO, Human Services, Home Affairs and Defence. Shetler has remained critical of the federal government’s digitalisation efforts.

“I just could not be effective in working with the big departments and agencies in Canberra while commuting weekly from Melbourne,” Slater told The Mandarin.

“We are a small agency trying to drive major change and these (government) relationships are an important part of the job.”

Gavin Slater with Nerida O’Loughlin and then Digital Transformation Minister Angus Taylor

Slater said his recent studies at a Harvard executive program had excited him about the possibilities for change and he wanted to pursue these.

Under Slater the DTA has started to focus on key deliverables — such as sorting out digital identity. With such large scale digital change and massive investment in new infrastructure and systems, Slater said the DTA was really stretched and needed to stay very focused on delivery key capabilities to the broader sector.

READ MORE: Repairing relationships: Gavin Slater does not want to be carried out in a box

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