The Government has opened applications for the role of chief technology officer, with responsibility to prepare and oversee a national digital architecture for the next five to ten years.
The new role was announced by communications minister Clare Curran in mid November. Commenting on the opening of applications, Curran said the role would be critical to ensuring New Zealand could use and develop digital technologies for social prosperity, economic productivity, and for the good of all New Zealanders.
“This Government intends to close the digital divides by 2020, and to make ICT the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025,” she said. “The internet and digital tools are fundamental to us achieving these goals.
She said the role would “suit someone who has a high level of expertise in the digital technology industry, who is passionate about the issues, who carries the influence needed to stimulate public discussion, and who wants to take action with government and other stakeholders to deliver and support meaningful change.”
Curran added: “In particular, I see the chief technology officer working on issues such as improving digital equality, protecting citizens’ rights online, and building a connected nation, alongside the Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Advisory Group and the other Advisory Groups that I have already signalled I will be establishing.
The chief technology officer will be accountable to the prime minister and to the minister for broadcasting, communications and digital media, and Government Digital Services, and will provide independent expert advice to ministers and senior leaders on digital issues.
Curran said: “Although the role sits within the government context, the chief technology officer will require a collaborative way of working across government, with ministers and officials, and with a range of other stakeholders to shape and drive New Zealand’s digital agenda.
Also, according to the application page on the MBIE web site “It is likely that the influence of the chief technology officer will be greatest if the successful applicant remains outside the technology industry for the duration of his or her term of appointment.
According to the cabinet paper authorising the creation of the CTO role, the aim is to have the CTO in place ahead of the Digital 5 (D5) Ministerial Summit on 20-21 February 2018.
D5, is a network of “the world’s most advanced digital nations,” with a shared goal of strengthening the digital economy. It was founded in London in late 2014 by Estonia, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom. New Zealand was appointed chair in December 2016 and will host the February 2018 summit.
The cabinet paper also anticipated difficulty in filling the role saying: “It will be a challenge to find a person for a role of this size and complexity and … an interim appointment may be made initially.”