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Pūrongo ā-Tau a te Poari Whakahaere Matihiko

Digital Executive Board Annual Report, to

Kōrero Whakataki


The Digital Executive Board (the Board) was established in August 2022 as an Interdepartmental Executive Board (IEB) by Order in Council. Established under the Public Service Act 2020, the Board leads and drives the implementation of the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa (the Strategy) and its associated Action Plan.

The Board oversees and coordinates the delivery of priorities in the Digital Economy and Communications portfolio more broadly.

Mō te Poari

About the Board

Under section 29 of the Public Sector Act 2020, the Public Service Commissioner selected the members of the IEB from the chief executives of the departments that are included in the Board’s remit. The Commissioner could also appoint one or more independent advisors to the Board.

The the Board is coordinated across the Digital Economy and Communications portfolio and is administered by the following agencies:

  • Te Tari Taiwhenua — Department of Internal Affairs
  • Hīkina Whakatutuki — Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
  • Te Tari o Te Pirimia me Te Komiti Matua — Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Tatauranga Aotearoa — Statistics New Zealand.

The inaugural Chair of the Board is Mark Sowden, Chief Executive of Tatauranga Aotearoa Statistics New Zealand. He was appointed for a 2-year term.

Te hanganga me te tuku rauemi

Structure and resourcing

The Department of Internal Affairs was the servicing department for the Board and hosted the Board Secretariat.

As noted above, the Commissioner could appoint an independent advisor, but this has not occurred.

The Board appointed a director to:

  • lead the work of the Secretariat
  • keep minutes of Board meetings, communicate Board decisions and report on performance
  • manage the relationship with the Minister’s Office
  • make decisions under delegated authority.

The Board has no staff, and it is serviced by Te Kōtui Whitiwhiti the Digital Public Service branch.

Ngā takune ā-rautaki me te pūrongo i ngā mahi

Strategic intentions and performance reporting

Since , the Board was accountable for:

  • leading and driving implementation of the Strategy, including progress reporting
  • taking a systems-level view by aligning and coordinating strategic, policy, planning and budgeting activities for the departments that support the Digital Economy and Communications portfolio
  • supporting and assigning these departments to undertake priority work and cross-agency initiatives in the digital area.

An overarching priority is the successful finalisation, publication and implementation of the Strategy, but the Board also prioritised:

  • Rural Connectivity — announcement of a Rural Connectivity Improvement Programme
  • the Digital Divide — announcement of a multi-year and multi-agency work programme to tackle the Digital Divide
  • the Cyber Security Uplift Package — development of a package of options for the Minister to consider and consult that may include items under the four streams identified in the Cabinet paper
  • the Digital Identity Trust Framework — establishment of the framework and first tranche of accredited providers
  • Measuring the Value of the Digital Economy — advancing a set of measures to measure the digital economy.

Ngā mahi a te Poari

Board performance

During the first months of operation, between and , the Board focused on setting up and establishing processes to fulfil the strategic intentions.

Leading and driving implementation of the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa, including progress reporting.

The overarching priority to finalise and release the Strategy was achieved in .

As a part of this Strategy, some work programmes were prioritised, and reporting was set up to monitor progress. Some of the projects have seen good success and the Board has kept oversight of these. In particular, the work programmes being monitored were as follows.

Priority initiatives

  • The Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan — released in .
  • The Digital Identity Trust Framework in legislation — passed into law in . Development of secondary legislation and the creation of Boards are advancing in preparation for it coming into force in .

Foundation initiatives

  • Improving rural connectivity — government strategy ‘Lifting Connectivity in Aotearoa New Zealand’ released in and progressing well with milestones.
  • Māori Data Governance — work is ongoing with a Cabinet paper expected to progress this year.
  • Data as a tool for decision-making and wellbeing — project closed out and successfully moved to business as usual.

Emerging initiatives

  • Establishing a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation — work is progressing to establish the Centre.
  • Cyber Security Strategy — launched in , there was significant progress in and to commission and deliver a range of initiatives across the Strategy’s 5 priority areas. Particularly notable is that initiatives to improve the cyber incident work is progressing to refresh this Strategy, as well as improve reporting and the response system in New Zealand, alongside progress towards an improved regulatory framework to enhance critical infrastructure resilience (including cyber resilience).
  • Digital Inclusion Action Plan — while some budget has been attributed to digital inclusion across government, further work is needed. The Strategy’s focus on digital inclusion has raised the expectations that the Government will do more to support digitally excluded communities.

The individual agencies were responsible for the delivery of each of the work programmes, while the Board oversaw the delivery to ensure implementation of the Strategy.

Taking a system-level view by aligning and coordinating strategic, policy, planning and budgeting activities for the departments that support the Digital Economy and Communications portfolio.

In the time that the Board was convened, they were able to pull together budget bids from across the agencies to present a complete list to the Minister. That Minister was able to prioritise the bids through this process. The legislative bids were also coordinated across the agencies through the Board and delivered to the Minister.

There has been a benefit to the portfolio through the Board, as the agencies across the portfolio were more connected.

Supporting and assigning these departments to undertake priority work and cross-agency initiatives in the digital area.

After the Cabinet reshuffle in , the Board identified priority projects across the portfolio’s work programme that would be the most important to do and presented this to the Minister. Departments remain responsible for the delivery of the specific work programmes.

Te anamata o te Poari

The Board’s future

While the Board will continue as an IEB, in Cabinet decided to amend its function and remit. These changes include:

  • to reset the function of the Board to lead and drive a whole-of-system approach to joining up and modernising digital public services
  • to amend the functions of the Board so that it is accountable for supporting integrated delivery of public services around common citizens, clients and customers by:
    • leading and managing the whole-of-system transformation of digital public services including producing and implementing a system blueprint for digital public services that enables clear sequencing and prioritisation of investment; and
    • joining current work programmes at key points of overlap to build on progress being made across the public service.

The Board is no longer leading the Strategy, which will instead be led by a more informal grouping of relevant chief executives.

Cabinet agreed to amend the remit of the Board to include:

  • Te Tari Taiwhenua — Department of Internal Affairs (Government Chief Digital Officer and Chief Privacy Officer)
  • Te Tira Tiaki — Government Communications Security Bureau (Government Chief Information Security Officer)
  • Te Kawa Mataaho — Public Service Commission (Head of Service)
  • Tatauranga Aotearoa — Statistics New Zealand (Government Chief Data Steward)
  • Te Tari Taake — Inland Revenue (System Lead Service Transformation).

These changes will take affect once the Order in Council is finalised.

Te Tauākī Noho Haepapa

Statement of Responsibility

In accordance with section 45C of the Public Finance Act 1989, it is the opinion of the Board that this annual report fairly reflects the operation, progress, organisational health and capability of the Board.


This annual report, for to , was signed by:

  • Mark Sowden, Chief Executive — Statistics NZ
  • Paul James, Chief Executive — Department of Internal Affairs
  • Carolyn Tremain, Chief Executive — Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment
  • Tony Lynch, Deputy Chief Executive — Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
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