Data across Government
Australian Government data holdings are an important national asset that drives innovation and evidence-based decision-making. The effective use of public data enables program evaluation, informed policy, risk-based regulatory processes and drives better services for all Australians. Good use of data helped in Australia’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that vulnerable Australians remained safe and leading to one of the world’s most effective responses to the initial outbreak of the virus. It is also fundamental to building a modern digital economy.
The Government has announced the delivery of Australia’s first Data Strategy by the end of 2021, setting a vision to create a national ecosystem of data that is accessible, reliable and relevant, and able to be easily used to drive national priorities.
The 2020–21 Federal Budget also announced a $16.5 million pilot program to make Government data assets discoverable and support whole-of-economy reuse. The Office of the National Data Commissioner is leading the program, which will develop data inventories for 20% of Australian Government agencies. Common standards and shared infrastructure will be used to aggregate agency inventories into a Government-wide catalogue of data assets. This will complement existing catalogues on open data platforms, particularly data.gov.au, and support greater transparency of Government data holdings as well as promoting reuse, including with other jurisdictions, researchers and the private sector. This will allow the APS to respond more quickly in emergencies and help transition Australia to a data-driven economy, including making Australia more attractive to investors seeking to create new data‑driven products and services.
The Australian Government supported by the APS, has also worked closely with states and territories to improve cross-jurisdictional data sharing, with National Cabinet signing a new Intergovernmental Agreement on data sharing in July 2021.10 The agreement recognises data as a shared national asset and commits all jurisdictions to share public sector data as a default position, where it can be done securely, safely, lawfully and ethically. It is supported by a National Data Sharing Work Program to focus national efforts on priority data areas.
Furthermore, uplift of data capability in the APS continues to be a priority, with the APS Data Profession established in September 2020. The Data Profession, with the Australian Statistician serving as the Head of Profession, acts as a unifier of the APS data workforce to build data capability. Since its establishment, there has been rapid growth and diversification of the data ecosystem, which provides strong support for the use of data to inform policy and effective service delivery, which are critical elements of the work of the APS.
10Commonwealth of Australia. (2021). Intergovernmental Agreement on data sharing between Commonwealth and State and Territory governments. 9 July.