The CEO of the National Disability Insurance Agency, David Bowen, has resigned. Announced today, Mr Bowen will depart the Agency in early November this year. This announcement comes just 3 months after the installation of the new Board, which included the ousting of former Chairman Bruce Bonyhady in January.
According to leaks last year, the new NDIA board was proposed by Federal Minister Christian Porter and approved by State Ministers. In July of 2016, the NDIS began transition from trial phase to rollout, with the goal of being fully operational across Australia by 2020. However, the Scheme was plagued by mismanagement. As CEO, David Bowen oversaw ‘My First Plan’ which originally stripped NDIS participants of any goals in their first year, as well as the catastrophic deployment of the ‘My Place’ web portal that left NDIS participants without access to funds and NDIS providers unpaid for months.
With Mr Bowen’s resignation coming a mere 73 days since the new NDIA board lead by Chair Dr Helen Nugent took office, many may wonder if Mr Bowen walked or was pushed. The official answer is no, with Dr Nugent and Mr Bowen describing the exit as a retirement. Given Mr Bowen has been with the NDIA since the beginning of the NDIS trials in 2012, that explanation may well be true.
However, Mr Bowen’s departure means that the agency is not done changing. We can expect the new board to appoint a new CEO in 2017, likely before Mr Bowen departs office in November (though given past performance, there’s no doubt a chance it could leak sooner). And with a new Board and a vacancy in the CEO, there is a question of what other changes 2017 may hold for the agency’s leadership.
[Image from facebook of resigning CEO David Bowen and former NDIA Chair Bruce Bonyhady from the days before the rollout. Ironically, the pair hold a sign that reads #ndisready]
When the new board was leaked, it drew criticism from some quarters – both for the lack of representation from people with disability and also for the corporate accomplishments of it’s proposed members. With 3 more years of rollout to lead, it will be interesting to see whether the new board heeds the criticisms of their detractors, or seeks out a candidate more in line with their own experience as an effective operational executive from the corporate sector.
What do you think? Should the board favour a CEO with lived experience of disability or a corporate exec with a track record of delivering? Maybe you know someone who fits the bill on both – Who would you like to see lead the NDIA and succeed David Bowen? Share your advice for the Board and who you think the next CEO should be in the comments!