The Digital Transformation Agency has lost close to 40 percent of its staff since last year’s restructure saw its delivery remit carved up between other federal government agencies.
iTnews can reveal the agency’s turnover rate has climbed to a record high of 38.2 percent this financial year, with more than 90 staff opting to leave the agency in the last nine months.
Only in 2016-17, when the DTA underwent its last major metamorphosis, did turnover last climb almost as high.
The latest exodus follows last year’s machinery of government change, which shifted the agency from Services Australia to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in April 2021.
The move saw the DTA take on a new mandate as the government’s digital adviser, namely focused on strategic planning, investment, contestability, assurance and digital sourcing.
In the process, however, it lost a number of its functions, including delivery functions relating to myGov and digital identity to Services Australia and the Australia Taxation Office
Data functions were similarly divided between the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Geoscience Australia.
Of the 38.2 percent of staff who have left the DTA in the past nine months, the majority have remained in the Australian Public Service, while others have moved into the private sector or retired.
A spokesperson told iTnews that 65 staff – or 72.2 percent – had moved to other federal agencies “where their digital delivery expertise, developed in the DTA, can be put to best use”.
As previously reported, Services Australia and Defence snapped up much of the DTA’s remaining leadership team at the end of 2021, following the earlier departure of former CEO Randall Brugeaud.
The DTA is now in the process of replacing these position on a permanent basis, and is even expected to grow in size next financial year – from an average staffing level of 240 in 2021-22 to 257 in 2022-23.
A further 27 staff left the DTA (27.8 percent) for “other reasons, including movements to other levels of government, opportunities in the private sector and retirement”, the spokesperson said.
The DTA has also subsequently welcomed 52 new ongoing staff that “have the specialist digital oversight capabilities required to deliver on our new mandate”.
With the new joiners, the total net loss to the Australian Public Service is 10.6 percent, the spokesperson said.
The figures do not include former staff who have been “reassigned to other agencies as part of MoG changes”.
“Under our previous delivery mandate, the DTA built an impressive digital project, program, and delivery capability,” the spokesperson added.
“While this capability is in extreme demand across the public and private sectors, much less of this capability is required in the DTA in our new role.”
With staff turnover at 38.6 percent in 2021-22, the DTA has already churned through more employees than in previous financial years with two months to go.
The separation rate was last this high in 2016-17 (37 percent), when the then Digital Transformation Office was given a new name, structure and remit.
In the five years since, staff turnover has sat been as low as 15.9 percent in 2019-20 and as high as 26.8 percent in 2018-19.