DTA to move back to Prime Minister's department

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DTA to move back to Prime Minister's department

But Stuart Robert to continue as minister in charge.

The Digital Transformation Agency will transfer back to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in a move that promises to give the lead IT policy and procurement agency greater clout.

Administrative orders issued on Thursday reveal the central department has assumed responsibility for government-wide IT policy and procurement from the Department of Social Services, effective immediately.

Social Services has held the crucial IT function since Prime Minister Scott Morrison established Services Australia as the government’s new centralised service delivery agency in 2019.

The machinery of government change means the DTA will move back to PM&C, which had previously housed the agency – and its predecessor, the Digital Transformation Office – since September 2015.

A DTA spokesperson confirmed the planned transition to iTnews, despite a separate order, also issued on Thursday, revealing newly-appointed employment minister Stuart Robert as the agency's responsible minister.

Robert previously held responsibility for the DTA as government services minister until late last month, when a reshuffle saw the embattled former defence minister Linda Reynolds take up the role.

The order outlining Robert as the DTA's responsible minister also gives the agency's specific whole-of-government IT policy and procurement functions a nip and tuck, though they remain largely unchanged.

Responsibility for IT oversight appears to be the only area to be dialled down to any extent in the order, with all mention of the DTA’s “whole-of-government ICT program management office” missing.

The DTA currently holds responsibly for:

  • Providing strategic and policy leadership on whole-of-government and shared ICT investment and digital service delivery.
  • Developing, delivering and monitoring whole-of-government strategies, policies and standards for digital ICT investments, including ICT procurement.
  • Managing strategic co-ordination and oversight functions for digital and ICT investments across the project lifecycle, including providing advice on whole-of-government reuse opportunities.

The move back under PM&C should go some way to strengthening the DTA’s clout, which was questioned in David Thodey’s root-and-branch review of the Australian Public Service in late 2019.

The review found that the DTA’s lack of “authority and resources to drive the digital agenda” was impeding progress on digital initiatives, particularly the development of common platforms.

It recommended moving the “Commonwealth digital functions into a standalone central department” which, while rejected at the time, the government now appears to have acted upon.

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