The head of the federal government's digital agency is leaving his role and returning to the private sector, less than 18 months after he was appointed.
Gavin Slater, a former NAB executive, was announced the Digital Transformation Agency's chief executive in April last year after its re-invention in October 2016.
Australian Bureau of Statistics chief operating officer, deputy Australian statistician, and former Immigration department chief information officer Randall Brugeaud will replace Mr Slater, who is departing his $532,000 role at the end of June.
Mr Slater joined the agency as its role expanded, overseeing much of the federal government's IT expenditure which has soared in value to nearly $10 billion last financial year, up from $6 billion just three years ago.
He told Fairfax Media on Friday a recent short course at Harvard University he completed during leave had grown his wish to return to the private sector, noting that one-third of participants were in new jobs within a year of completing its studies.
"I felt myself sitting there and I guess my yearning just increased, so that was a bit of a trigger," he said. Mr Slater also wanted to spend less time travelling between Canberra and his home in Melbourne, and is looking at new possible roles.
The federal government turned to the banking sector - and its knowledge bringing services online - in drawing Mr Slater to lead the Digital Transformation Agency, as the Coalition grappled with the immediate fallout of multiple tech disasters and controversies that shredded its reputation for IT reform.
The agency had been relaunched with a new name and new leadership in 2016 after the project became bogged down amidst bureaucratic turf wars in Canberra.
Mr Slater said the government brought him in to restore the digital agency's credibility, refocus its work and help the government define its digital goals - purposes he said had been achieved.
He rejected criticisms that the agency had diminished and become a "policy shop" despite being first conceived as the Prime Minister's pet public service project supposed to help use technology to transform federal government service delivery.
Mr Slater said the agency was there to help the government shape its digital goals and advise on investments, and that while accountability for IT projects rested with agencies, his role had been to help them consider how they would approach reforms.
Before he accepted the Digital Transformation Agency chief executive job, the Prime Minister's department secretary Martin Parkinson personally assured Mr Slater of the role's importance to the government.
The former bank executive on Friday said he had not been disappointed, and that he found the public service was open to change in its approach to IT.
"People struggle with how to change," he said.
"Any change, whether it's the private sector or the public sector, you're dealing with humans and it requires a change in mindset and a change in approach. But you encounter that in the private sector as well," Mr Slater said.
"I've never encountered a resistance to change in the public service at all."
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan credited Mr Slater with "playing a significant role in helping to drive the government’s digital transformation agenda, while also overseeing procurement reform and the delivery of simpler and faster government services".
"Under Mr Slater’s leadership, the DTA has delivered a number of key achievements, including developing a robust framework for digital identity and establishing a Digital Investment Management Office to advise ministers on ICT investments," he said.