National ICT Australia (NICTA) CEO Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte has resigned because he and the NICTA board could not agree on strategies about the future of the organisation beyond June 2016 when federal government funding ends.
In May 2014, the government announced that it would end financial support for NICTA from June 2016. The organisation will be forced to seek private sector and grant-based funding.
“NICTA's rapid recent growth in commercial revenue, through its partnerships with domestic and overseas firms, shows it can draw funding from a wider range of sources,” said a media statement issued by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office at the time.
According to NICTA, the differences between Durrant-Whyte and the board were unlikely to be resolved. He had been CEO of NICTA for four years.
However, Durrant-Whyte will remain at NICTA until early 2015 to help the organisation transition to a new CEO and work with research staff on projects.
Until a long term successor CEO is appointed next year, NICTA international business advisory group member, Duane Zitzner, will be appointed as interim CEO.
According to NICTA chair Neville Stevens, Zitzner is a “highly respected” member of the international ICT research and business community who consults to US Silicon Valley venture firms.
“Under Durrant-Whyte’s leadership, NICTA has continued to grow its research excellence and is internationally recognised as one of the premier ICT research centres in the world. Equally, he has made great strides in linking that research excellence with business to produce wealth for Australia,” said Stevens in a statement.
In February 2014, NICTA confirmed that redundancies were planned at its Victorian Research Laboratory (VRL) after the Victorian state government announced funding reductions.
According to a report by <i>iTnews</i> at the time, approximately 60 staff would be affected by the first round of job cuts.
Victorian Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips said NICTA is headquartered in New South Wales, and over that period NICTA’s activities have become increasingly Sydney-focused.
"New South Wales leverages $5 for each $1 it invested in NICTA, compared to Victoria leveraging only $1.50 for each $1 invested," he said at the time.