Governing the national data system

Balancing trust and opportunity

Productivity Commission Recommendations: 6.6, 6.7, 6.11, 6.13, 7.4, 9.4 and 10.2.

The Productivity Commission recommended establishing a new statutory role with a supporting office, to take responsibility for a reformed national data system. The role would be supported by a small technical advisory board.

'Comprehensive reform to data availability and use will require a change to the culture around the sharing and release of data. While establishing an institutional structure for data sharing and release is necessary, it will also be important to ensure consistent leadership and technical direction for implementation of reforms to Australia’s data infrastructure, and in building trust between jurisdictions and across sectors.'

Productivity Commission 2017, Data Availability and Use Final Report

The Australian Government's response

The Australian Government will establish a position to be called the National Data Commissioner and will introduce a new data sharing and release framework. This will streamline the way public data is shared and released, which will in turn:

  • Promote greater use of data
  • Drive economic benefits and innovation from greater use of data, and
  • Build trust with the Australian community about the government’s use of data.

Realising benefits from data for all Australians needs a powerful champion with a mandate to unlock the productivity benefits of valuable datasets, identify opportunities for improved data use, and build national frameworks and guidelines.

Many benefits of better data use within governments arise from improvements in economic productivity—by providing a stronger evidence base, more efficient systems, and competitive product and service offerings in the market economy. However, a balance must be struck between utilising data for the benefit of the Australian economy and society, and ensuring community trust in the way government uses data.

The National Data Commissioner will provide a consistent and well-defined approach to data management, including proactively managing risks, dealing with complaints and monitoring the integrity of the data sharing and release framework. This will increase community trust and confidence in the way government manages and uses its data.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will provide technical guidance and support to the National Data Commissioner.

A new National Data Advisory Council will advise the National Data Commissioner on ethical data use, technical best practice, and industry and international developments.

A cultural change is required from agencies to ensure greater data sharing within government and support for whole-of-government initiatives and reforms. The new data sharing and release framework will support a drive for cultural change within government towards greater data sharing while mitigating the risks associated with sharing of personal data. Better legislative and governance arrangements will ensure government gets the maximum benefits from the data it already holds and collects while maintaining public trust in how data is being used. This will enable government to meet community expectations to be efficient and to use the data it already has more productively.