Digital Transformation Office hiring, hunts for .au ex-pats

shetler stripes
DTO chief Paul Shetler.

It’s no secret that the federal government has a hard time competing on pay with banks and other online businesses to hire top digital and technology talent, but the recently formed Digital Transformation Office (DTO) has issued a challenge to  those who would otherwise leave services eating their dust – if you actually care, come and work for us.

The fledgling agency tasked with overhauling the user experience of government services online on Thursday officially launched a recruitment campaign for around 20 people ranging from technical architects to researchers and ethical hackers that appeals directly to the non-monetary aspiration of making a difference for the public good.

In a marked difference to traditional public sector recruitment campaigns, the DTO is casting a wide net and encouraging Australians working in digital and transformation roles overseas to actively consider coming home for a stint to make their mark on reform.

The DTO’s chief executive Paul Shetler is also making it clear that he has no intention of getting into a bidding war on pay for digital skills in short supply but wants candidates to have a sense of commitment and purpose to making things better.

“My view has always been that I’m only interested in people who have an interest in public service. I said that when I was in the UK and I’ll say it again here,” Mr Shetler told Government News.

“We’re looking for people who are highly motivated to transform the face of public services. I think that’s a really rewarding thing to do.”

One major problem agencies which are based in Canberra face is that it can be difficult to attract technical talent from outside government to a city that is effectively built around it – and conspicuously suffers when departments start downsizing and chopping headcount to meet targets like the so-called efficiency dividend.

Another historical problem has been a lack of coordination between agencies and the wider public service on the sequencing of major projects and systems builds that rely on large numbers of contractors and consultants who are able to play agencies off against each other when labour supply is tight.

States like New South Wales partially addressed that problem by setting up mobile teams of developers and integrators who could move from agency to agency and act as a kind of ‘flying squad’ for common enterprise software deployments like SAP, Oracle and IBM.

More recently NSW has instigated big changes in service delivery by junking onerous and complex procurement mechanisms for technology and creating Service NSW and the powerful role of a Customer Service Commissioner.

Notably, the DTO isn’t putting all of its eggs in the Canberra basket confirming it will also establish Sydney office, a base that will afford it access to a much larger and broader set of skills. Whether some of those might come from conspicuously successful NSW projects remains an open question.

The DTO also keeping its options wide open in terms of candidate selection and team building by shelving the traditional public service approach of seeking detailed applications for highly specified roles in favour of an open call-out for talent.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has been championing the DTO from the outset, is also conspicuously talking-up the need for a shift in thinking to “unwind complexity and deliver services that are simpler and faster for the customer.”

“This is an exciting initiative but it’s also complex and requires significant cultural change,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Government services don’t face competition in the traditional sense but that doesn’t mean they should be immune from the disruptive technologies that are having an impact right across the economy.”

Expressions of interest for DTO jobs can be submitted at

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