Recommendation 6.6


The Australian Government should establish an Office of the National Data Custodian (NDC) to take overall responsibility for the implementation of data management policy, in consultation with all levels of Government.

The Office of the NDC should have responsibility for:

  • broad oversight and ongoing monitoring of and public reporting on Australia’s national data system and the operation of the new Data Sharing and Release Act (recommendation 8.1)
  • preliminary assessments for, and recommending designation of, National Interest Datasets (recommendation 7.1)
  • accrediting release authorities, be party to determining a funding agreement for Accredited Release Authority (ARA) activities, and promoting cooperation between ARAs
  • managing complaints about ARA processes
  • providing practical guidance material for ARAs and data custodians on matters such as risk management, data curation and metadata, data security, data de- identification and trusted user models
  • advising on ethics and emerging risks and opportunities in data use.

The Office of the NDC should include a small advisory board, comprising members with technical skills related to the NDC’s activities, and a dedicated ethics adviser.

The NDC role should be filled administratively by the end of 2017 to be operational by the time that new draft legislation for data access is completed for public consultation (recommendation 10.2).

Government response: 

The Government agrees in principle with this recommendation.

A statutory National Data Commissioner (NDC) and supporting office (the Office of the National Data Commissioner, ONDC) will be established to govern the national data system—to ensure its integrity, and to enable greater data sharing and release.

The NDC will be a high-profile individual providing a public face to the Government’s data reform agenda.

The ONDC will consult with the community to build trust in data use, investigate complaints and data use breaches that have system-wide impacts, and monitor the effectiveness and impact of the reforms. It will also provide assurance to enable greater sharing and release of data—issuing standards and guidelines, accrediting Data Release Authorities, working with data custodians and Accredited Data Release Authorities (ADRAs) to identify and release high-value and Designated Datasets, and ensuring the benefits of data are realised for the Australian community.

An interim National Data Commissioner and supporting Office will be established by October 2017.

A National Data Advisory Council (NDAC) will be established within three months of the passage of the Data Sharing and Release Bill, to advise the National Data Commissioner and other stakeholders on the ethics of data use in government, technical best practices, and industry and international developments. A number of working groups (e.g. on data use ethics) will be established by the NDAC.

Lead Agency: The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet