Take two: Curran reopens applications for CTO role

Troubled attempt to hire a $500K chief technology officer for New Zealand continues, with two tweaks.
Communications Minister Clare Curran thinks the job description is now in good shape.

The government is making a renewed bid to hire a chief technology officer for New Zealand.

The $500,000 a year role was first advertised in the New Year.

But Communications Minister Clare Curran shocked the industry on February 12 when she announced that none of the 60 applicants had made the cut.

The search would be "expanded," Ms Curran said, which many took to be code for looking offshore.

NZ Rise co-founder Don Christie said there were qualified local candidates, and cultural cringe could be in play.

As Ms Curran told NBR there was no deadline for the expanded search, National IT spokesman Brent Hudson called the hiring process "a big mess."

For his part, IT commentator Ian Apperley said the job description was too vague and, worse, felt to him as though it favoured a status-quo candidate over a provocateur.

“The thing that disturbed me about the job description was that it didn’t have the feel of independence," he said.

Two tweaks
This morning, Ms Curran said she thought the job description had now been buffed into shape.

“I’ve worked with the initial members of our new Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Ministerial Advisory Group to refine and shape the role to ensure we get the right person to play a lead part in developing a digital strategy for New Zealand."

Mr Apperley says he's confounded by that statement, given that the previous job description and the one released this morning are more-or-less identical (NBR has asked Ms Curran to explain that point).

The second change is that the appointment is now for one year, with an option to renew for another year.

Applications are now open here and close on June 3.

Mr Apperley says he's seen the job ad up on international networks, which means a crush of hundreds of applicants will be on the way.

"The timeframe for appointing a CTO could be in the region of six months. Then, another six months to get their feet on the ground and another 12 months to execute work. Do we really want to be waiting two years while the entire world is overtaking us?," Mr Apperley says.

"There has to be a better way to do this." 

In his view, the better way is no way. Mr Apperley says a digital strategy is already well defined. A CTO would be surplus to requirements.

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