The NSW government’s inaugural chief information and digital officer, Damon Rees, is preparing to get his hands dirty tackling the “hard process and legacy challenges” that will allow the state to make real progress towards its service delivery vision.
In one of his first public addresses since winning the role in May, the former Macquarie Bank tech boss told the GovDC expo in Redfern that he wants to make more than cosmetic reforms to government digital operations.
“The goal is not to take what we do and the way we do it and move that onto a phone or a website. The goal is to genuinely look at what business we are in and what are the services we need to provide can that underpin that,” he said.
Rees answered a call from Finance secretary Martin Hoffman, who announced in March he was looking for someone with "runs on the board, and the scars on the back” to lift the profile of the state government’s central IT function.
He will now lead a new unit within the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation to set the technology agenda for NSW.
The government CIDO said his three priorities for his term were customer experience, deep process and internal IT change within government, and truly leveraging the power of data.
He pointed to the agency’s efforts to speed up the process of setting up a small business in NSW as the kind of area where merely a nice digital interface wouldn’t be enough to make meaningful change.
“Yes, we are going to put a really intuitive service in place for customers, but if we don’t tackle the underlying delays in the process, the sequence of the process and the automation of the process, then we’re never going to get that down from a year to three months and then hopefully even less,” he said.
In the same vein, he said data analytics projects would remain lip service unless the state can “industrialise” the way it shares data.
He said at the moment the process is “difficult”, “bespoke” and “time consuming”.
“How do we get to the point where we can make really effective and efficient decisions that we can sustain, that determine who can use what data for what purpose, and in what way, and for how long?
“The Data Analytics Centre is an incredibly important part of that but it is only one piece”.
On the same day his fellow DFSI tech executive Pedro Harris announced his departure, Rees praised the progress the state government has made so far.
“It is fantastic to have a really, really great position to build upon,” he said.
“There is a huge amount of potential ahead of us and a huge amount still to do".