NZ's new CTO: Blink and you'll miss him

Role scrapped

Having just appointed Derek Handley as chief technology officer the government has decided to scrap his role and go back to square one.

The Minister for Government Digital Services, Megan Woods, said the government was reconsidering its approach to the digital transformation for New Zealand: "We need to step back and have a good look at the role and see how it fits in with the other work being done in the digital transformation space."

Handley will be paid $100,000, being three months of the one year contract for services offered to him, and NZ$7500 for any set-up expenses incurred.

Handley's appointment was mired in controversy and the process brought down the former minister, Clare Curran, after it emerged she had an undocumented meeting and undocumented correspondence with him about the role.

Woods said her decision did not reflect on him as a candidate and the State Services Commission review of his appointment had shown the process to be suitably robust.

She said she had asked officials to review the CTO role and provide advice on the best ways to drive a forward-looking digital agenda for New Zealand.

 “What we know is that the CTO role in its current form has significant overlaps with the Research, Science and Innovation portfolio and the Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media portfolio, as well as other roles like the Government Chief Digital Officer," She said.

“We want to make sure that, whatever approach we take to achieve digital transformation in New Zealand, we get it right, and aligns with other work the Government is doing.”

Woods announcement heralds the government's third attempt at creating a CTO, or similar. The government announced creation of the CTO role in November 2017.  Applications opened in December but in May the government restarted its search after announcing in February that it had failed to find a suitable candidate in the first round of applicants.

When Curran announced the role she put it at the top of her list of priorities saying the CTO would have responsibility for preparing and overseeing a ‘National Digital Architecture’ or roadmap for the next 5-10 years including fibre optic capabilities, 5G/6G/7G and beyond in mobile technologies, artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, digital fabrication, AR/VR and the Internet Of Things.

 

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