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Morrison government names new DTA CEO

The former Queensland government’s chief customer and digital officer has been revealed as the next chief executive of the Digital Transformation Agency.

The Morrison government has announced that Christopher Fechner will serve as the next CEO of its Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), replacing acting CEO Peter Alexander.

Mr Fechner is expected to commence his role from 13 October, where he will serve for a period of five years. 

Prior to his appointment, the incoming CEO served in digital roles with two state governments over a period of five years. 

Currently, Mr Fechner is the chief customer and digital officer with the Queensland government, and previously served as the chief digital and product officer at Service NSW. 

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The Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Stuart Robert, said in a statement that the appointment comes at a time when the DTA has “a key role to play in delivering the government’s ambitious digital transformation agenda”. 

Mr Robert said: “Mr Fechner will bring proven and strong leadership to the DTA, as it plays its key role in our ambitious push to become one of the top three digital governments in the world by 2025.

“A key part of delivering on this ambition is delivering simple, secure and trusted digital services, making it easy for people and businesses to deal with government.

“Mr Fechner’s experience in senior digital roles within the Queensland and New South Wales governments will serve the DTA well in driving this key government priority.”

The minister thanked acting CEO Mr Alexander for his “strong and effective leadership of the DTA in recent months” and that he wished to place on record his “gratitude for the contribution” of former CEO Randall Brugeaud.

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Mr Alexander was named acting CEO in July this year following the announcement that Mr Brugeaud would step down from the role, who had been in the position since July 2018. 

Exposure legislation released

As well as welcoming a new CEO, Mr Robert has also announced the release of the exposure draft of the Trusted Digital Identity Bill.

The bill is intended to support the expansion of the Digital Identity System, which helps Australians verify their identity online when accessing government and other services digitally.

It will establish permanent oversight and governance structures and enshrines in law privacy and consumer protections. 

The exposure draft is open for consultation until 5pm AEDT on 27 October 2021.

Speaking of the draft legislation, the minister said he believed this is the next step in a “multi-year journey of consultation” to ensure that the bill is robust, fit-for-purpose, and meets public expectations”.  

“The draft legislation I am releasing... will build on strong safeguards already in place, providing the authority for a consistent set of rules that will protect Australians and Australian businesses,” Mr Robert added.

“We have been actively engaging all interested parties throughout the consultation process and this commitment to co-design and ongoing conversation continues with the opportunity to comment on the proposed legislation.

“A safe, thriving digital economy is the best way we can grow the Australian economy. A safe, thriving digital economy is not possible without digital identity – that is, a safe, secure and convenient way for Australians to prove their identity online.

“The work achieved in this space, and the future opportunities that legislation will enable, are critical parts of the Morrison Government’s ambition for our nation to be a leading digital economy and society by 2030.”

The DTA has been ramping up in recent months. In late September, the DTA’s Digital Identity program named eftpos’ subsidiary connectID as the ​​country’s first accredited private digital identity exchange under the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF), now enabling the exchange to operate under ​​Services Australia. 

In August, the Australian-based identity provider, OCR Labs, was named the first private company to be accredited as an identity provider under the TDIF. 

In September 2020, the Morrison government also pledged almost $800 million to assist businesses in continuing its “digital push” and to expand opportunities for those businesses to “grow and create more jobs”.

[Related: eftpos becomes first ID broker under digital ID framework]

Morrison government names new DTA CEO
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Sam Nichols

Sam Nichols is a journalist at The Adviser and Mortgage Business. His reporting has featured in a range of outlets including ABC News, SBS' The Feed, and VICE.

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