The government is sinking deeper into the hole left behind by Clare Curran over the appointment of a Chief Technology Officer.
Questioned in Parliament, State Services Minister Chris Hipkins sounded far from confident when he stuttered about issues of “natural justice”.
He was floundering not just because of the secret emails Curran had sent Derek Handley, whom she favoured – it seems – as the CTO, but because it turns out Handley is a friend of PM Jacinda Ardern.
Not surprisingly, National thinks the whole process has been “tainted”.
National’s Nick Smith has called on the government to restart the appointment process for a third time after the “debacle” of secret emails and meetings involving candidate Derek Handley.
“The process of appointing the CTO is so tainted that the Government needs to start again.
“You cannot have one candidate having secret meetings and emails with the Minister without creating inherent unfairness in the process. Confirmation the Prime Minister also had private communications and meetings with Handley further adds to the suspicions of a politically biased appointment process.”
Smith says Hipkins’ refusal to answer questions in Parliament about the secret emails from Clare Curran and on whether Handley was offered the job spectacularly contradicts the Coalition Government’s commitment to be the most open and transparent government ever.
He believes it is concerning the key industry bodies of both IT Professionals NZ and NZTech have lost confidence in the process. They have described any appointment now from this shoddy process as a “dead duck”, reinforcing the need for it to be redone.
The CTO is the flagship of the Government’s IT policy and is budgeted to cost the taxpayer over $500,000 a year.
“It is a sign of the shambles of this Government that a third try at the appointment process is required to deliver this simple policy.”
The government should also be heeding criticism coming from another direction including experts in the IT field, headlined in the New Zealand Herald over a piece by
Julia Juha Saarinen : “Get a techie with know-how for top job”.
Saarinen writes NZ techies are having a meltdown that people who don’t do technology — that is, know how to code, set up and operate computer systems and networks — are being considered for the CTO role. (Does he mean Derek Handley?)
He makes the point the government needs someone who can engage with the free and open source software community, and explain to the government why breaking encryption for surveillance is very dangerous at a technical level.
Saarinen points to a 2014 quote by Xero founder Rod Drury:
“How does the government, without deep technology expertise, engage in sorting out the vested interests, and overwhelming information flow, in order to come up with a step-change plan to transform our place in the world?”
Maybe an Opposition MP could put the question to Hipkins – but they shouldn’t put much money on getting an answer.
3 thoughts on “How the Govt’s IT girl and her email secrets left Chris Hipkins floundering”
Out of interest, “Juha Saarinen” appears to be a dude.
Thanks for alerting us to our error. It has been corrected.
The writer was Juha Saarinen and last time I checked was male.