The NSW finance department is scouring the market for the state's first whole-of-government chief information and digital officer, looking to hire a high-profile candidate with the requisite "gravitas".
Head of NSW Finance Martin Hoffman told the Trans-Tasman Business Circle on Friday he wanted someone with the experience, "runs on the board, and the scars on the back” to lift the profile of the state’s digital transformation agenda.
Hoffman said he was already in talks with some “really interesting people” from within the private sector who he hoped were driven by social imperatives rather than a big salary.
The last time NSW had a dedicated whole-of-government technology lead was 2010, when a panel of agency CIOs was created to advise on its ‘people first’ IT strategy.
The council was headed by a government CIO, but the role has since been notionally filled by whoever is in the top role at the NSW finance department.
Hoffman is keen to elevate the role of centralised IT policy and common architecture in the state’s public sector by giving the chief information and digital officer a seat at the executive table as a deputy secretary.
“We’ve got great CIOs in the clusters, there is no doubt about that,” he said.
“But when I speak about the need to upweight the importance of central policy and architecture and strategy, that needs a great strategic and technical leader to drive it.”
He said he was acutely aware of the need to balance central control of the digital drive with the freedom of agencies to explore their own agendas, but argued greater centralisation would "reap the benefits that digital can deliver”.
“While still respecting the roles and capabilities and the individual delivery imperatives of the different agencies, part of that general theme is a clearer generalised understanding of architecture and strategy," Hoffman said.
His government has already embarked upon a series of high-profile digital projects garnering widespread attention, including digital licences and a fuel price app backed by soon-to-come data sharing legislation.
Hoffman insisted he was aiming for a pragmatic and practical state digital agenda, away from “buzzwords” and a “utopian and idealistic conception of government” he said dominate much of the rhetoric in the space.