by Divina Paredes

New Zealand widens search for first Chief Technology Officer

Feb 13, 2018
Digital TransformationE-commerce ServicesGovernment

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Government Digital Services Minister Clare Curran says she received more than 60 applications forthis critical position but after careful consideration has decided not to make an appointment at this stage.

“This is a vital role to ensure we can use and develop digital technologies for the benefit of all New Zealanders,” says Curran, in a statement.

“While the candidates we looked at have an impressive range of skills and backgrounds, I am not confident that we have found the right person yet.”

“We always knew it was going to be extremely difficult to find one person with all the skills we want so I’ve decided not to appoint anyone to the position at this time and to seek input and perspectives from a new digital advisory group which is being set up,” she says.

“As I’ve said previously, this is a role for 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.

“It’s also a position for someone who wants to work with government and other stakeholders to deliver and support meaningful change.

“Even though I am very keen to establish this role, I’m not prepared to make a decision in haste.”

Curran had earlier said the CTO appointment will be one of the priorities of her role in the 100 days following the election.

“The feedback from industry and community is we need this,” she told CIO New Zealand, following her keynote at the NetHui, where she announced the creation of the role.“We are doing it in science, we can do it in technology as well.”

She points out the Chief Technology Officer will be accountable to the Prime Minister and to the Minister and will provide independent expert advice to Ministers and senior leaders on digital issues.

“The CTO will be responsible for preparing and overseeing a national digital architecture, or roadmap, for the next five to ten years. We intend to close the digital divides by 2020, and to make ICT the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025,” says Curran.

“The internet and digital tools are fundamental to us achieving these goals and I want the CTO to work on issues such as improving digital equality, protecting citizens’ rights online, and building a connected nation.

“They’ll do that alongside the Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Advisory Group and the two other Advisory Groups that I have already signalled I will be establishing.”

She says more than 300 people have expressed an interest in being on the Digital Economy Digital Inclusion (DEDI) Advisory Groupwhich she says the government is in the process of selecting.

Curran says there will be up to 15 people in the advisory group, with the ability to bring in additional members or expertise to address particular issues.

Some of the questions the group will consider are:

  • What is the current state of the ICT sector and ICT capability throughout the economy, society, and government?

  • What would be needed for New Zealand to: Increase its position relative to other countries in measures like the Networked Readiness index and increase the amount that ICT contributes to GDP so that it is the second largest contributor to the economy by 2025?

  • What are the possible future scenarios and their relative merits?

  • What would be required to achieve an optimal future state?

  • How might we most effectively work together to build our digital economy, improve productivity and increase the economic benefits of the internet?

  • How might we better understand the ‘digital divides’ between people who can have access to the internet and can use digital tools, and those who do not?

  • What would it take to eliminate digital divides by 2020?

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Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap