Matthew and the Digital Transformation Office

The Digital Transformation Office was established in July of this year, by the then Minister, now Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to transform government and make government services simpler, clearer, faster and more humane.

The cornerstone of this huge endeavour is putting users first. Design and build government services for people, not for government and all kinds of amazing things will happen.

This is a mission that is close to my heart. After all Kat Szuminska and I started the OpenAustralia Foundation with the goal of getting people more actively involved in the political process. This led us to create services with people at the centre.

The creation of the Digital Transformation Office brings a once in a generation opportunity to make things better and I want to help realise this amazing opportunity.

That is why I’m joining the Digital Transformation Office.

In order for the OpenAustralia Foundation to clearly and definitively maintain its independence I will step down as a director of the foundation.

This is certainly not a decision I take lightly. On a personal level I would have loved to stay on as a member of the board but with a much less active day-to-day involvement with the running of the foundation and the development of its projects. However, that would not have been the best thing for the foundation. In very practical terms the foundation needs to be able to praise government when it is doing the right thing and criticise government when it is doing the wrong thing. This is only possible with true independence.

I won’t be disappearing. In fact I still plan to contribute as a volunteer.

The foundation is People.

I want to thank Henare Degan for his unflailing “getting shit done” attitude and approach – nothing is too hard and little is too serious to not laugh about.

I want to thank Kat Szuminska for inciting me at just the right time with some carefully chosen words. She’s the true radical, yet ever-patient, with a keen bullshit detector and always the one to ask the questions that get to the core of a problem.

And to all the volunteers and donors over the years, there are far too many of you to mention here. Thank you for everything. Thank you for your support. Thank you for everything you’ve done.

For me everything started with a talk in 2004 given by Tom Steinberg, Tom Loosemore and Stefan Magdalinski. It was the launch of a new website It was really an accident that I was there. Little did I know where it would lead. Thank you to Tom, Tom and Stef for that.

For inventing what we now know as civic tech I want to thank Julian Todd, Francis Irving, Chris Lightfoot, Matthew Somerville and Tom Steinberg. You have all been a continuing source of inspiration to me. Thank you.

I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved at the OpenAustralia Foundation. We’ve helped millions of Australians connect with their communities, governments and politicians. We’ve made tools to help people create the change they want to see.

With Henare, Kat and Luke, the OpenAustralia Foundation is in excellent hands and I very much look forward to seeing it develop and grow into the future. I can’t wait to see what they will make next!

The foundation, not being part of government, and with full independence is still in a unique position to do things that no one else can do. What we need for Australia is a rich and diverse ecosystem of governmental organisations and non-governmental organisations all working together for the best possible outcome for citizens.

This is one of many reasons why what the OpenAustralia Foundation does is now more important than ever.

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