Service NSW loses digital chief to Queensland government

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Service NSW loses digital chief to Queensland government
Chris Fechner

Becomes sunshine state's first chief digital and customer officer.

The Queensland government has poached Service NSW’s digital chief Chris Fechner as the state’s first-ever chief digital and customer officer. 

iTnews can reveal Fechner will make the jump to Queensland’s Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW) in early February after just nine months at Service NSW.

He is the second chief digital and product officer to leave NSW’s central service delivery agency in just over a year, following in the footsteps of former digital chief Ian Jansen.

The appointment comes four months after DHPW went looking for a digital chief to spearhead Queensland’s efforts to become a leader in digital transformation.

DHPW last year acknowledged that the state’s digital transformation efforts had not kept pace with other Australian states, particularly NSW and Victoria, and risked falling further behind.

Fechner, who will sit alongside the government’s current chief information officer Andrew Mills, will be tasked with leading the development of customer-focused government online services.

He will also improve confidence in the government’s digital systems, which will involve strengthening the government’s current approach to IT investment, governance and assurance.

Prior to joining Service NSW in April 2019, Fechner spent six years as CIO at both NSW’s Department of Planning and Environment and former Office of Environment and Heritage.

He also spent just over two years as CIO at Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.

In a message to DHPW staff yesterday, director-general Liza Carrol said Fechner had gained “wealth of experience” from his time working in both the NSW and Queensland governments.

She said that he had most recently overseen Service NSW's digital customer services, including the digital driver's licence, both online and at physical service centres.

I look forward to Chris joining us in early February to take on this vitally important role for the Department,” Carrol said.

IT minister Mick de Brenni said Fechner has been at the "forefront of transforming the NSW government's business and would now "lead a necessary cultural shift" in Queensland.

"He will continue the re-engineering of Queensland government services to foster a customer obsessive culture," he said.

Fechner will lead the Queensland government’s customer and digital group, which was established as a new division within DHPW last year.

De Brenni said there was a need for the government to "embrace digital transformation" by learning from the experience of Services Australia and Service NSW, as well as "airlines and successful tech and digital service companies"

"It is not simply tweaking the way government services are delivered, it is a fundamental re-orientation," he said.

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