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3.3 - Improve the discoverability and accessibility of government data and information

Objective and description:

Australia will make it easier for the public to find, access and use government data and information.

We will do this by making greater use of central portals, digital platforms and other tools to improve discoverability and accessibility.

Status Quo:

The creation, preservation, management and public use of government information is fundamental to open and transparent government. The availability of government records and data improves public access to information, while also driving efficient business outcomes by facilitating use and reuse of these valuable resources.

It is not enough just to make these resources open; information and public data must be easy to find and accessible in order for it to be useful. The National Library of Australia’s ‘Trove’ is an example of a highly used and successful central portal. Some specific examples of areas where the government is seeking to improve public access to information include:

  • Public data: Data.gov.au is the Australian Government’s open data platform. It has enabled the open release of over 20,000 public resources used to grow the economy, improve service delivery and transform policy outcomes for the nation. As the number of datasets on data.gov.au grows, Australia’s public data infrastructure needs be upgraded to meet the demands of data users. This includes improving search and discovery, enhancing support for collaboration, developing a quality framework to assist publishers, and developing more robust publishing processes.

  • Grants: There is no central point to identify and apply for Australian Government grant opportunities and find consolidated information about grants awarded. The Department of Finance is building GrantConnect, a central whole-of-government system that will forecast and publish grant opportunities, automatically notify public users of grant opportunities of interest, and publish information on grants awarded.

  • Corporate and administrative reporting: Corporate and administrative reporting information is currently located on individual agency websites or in hard copy, making it difficult to compare and contrast documents. The Department of Finance is working to make reporting information more discoverable and accessible through the digitisation of this information.

  • Archived records: The most significant records of the Australian Government are held by the National Archives of Australia. To facilitate citizens’ access to these records through digital and online channels, the Archives will continue to lead the transition from paper to digital information practices in Australian Government agencies, digitise paper records of high research value and increase the number of records available for public access.

  • Environmental information: The Department of the Environment and Energy compiles significant data to produce its State of the Environment report and meet its other responsibilities (such as research into the impacts of coal and coal seam gas developments on ground water). The Department will make the State of the Environment 2016 report and its underlying data more accessible through SoE Digital (an innovative and interactive online platform) and data.gov.au. It will use data visualisation tools to help publish the results of its coal and coal seam gas bioregional assessments.


To make it as easy as possible to find, access and use government information and data. This will include making greater use of centralised, easy to access portals for information (e.g. for grants, and corporate / administrative reporting),, proactively publishing more information and data online, and keeping up to date with the latest technological developments. 


This commitment will advance the OGP values of access to information and technology and innovation by:

  • promoting a consistent approach to information governance across Australian Government entities;

  • increasing transparency of government decision-making and policy development;

  • enabling information and data reuse for economic and social benefits;

  • protecting the rights and entitlements of Australians to access government information;

  • increasing the accessibility, usability and discoverability of public data; and

  • improving the quality of data.

OGP Grand Challenge:

  • Improving Public Services

  • Increasing Public Integrity

  • More Effectively Managing Public Resources


Mid 2016 – Mid 2018

Lead agency:

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C: data@pmc.gov.au), Department of Finance (Finance: accountabilityprojects@finance.gov.au), National Archives of Australia (Archives: archives@naa.gov.au) and Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE)

Other actors involved: 

  • Government - All Commonwealth entities

  • Non-government - Data61, organisations outside of government (including Australian Library and Information Association, National Libraries of Australia and New Zealand, and Australian Policy Online)


  • PM&C to upgrade and improve data.gov.au:

    • work with Data 61 to conduct research and discovery into data consumption (to better understand user behaviours and needs) and publishing (to improve quality, timeliness and value of published data).

      • Commenced – Mid 2017

    • work with Data61 to create, circulate and gather feedback on design concepts and prototypes for improved search functionality and user experience on the data.gov.au platform.

      • Late 2016 – Late 2017

    • deliver live platform elements for data.gov.au, including integration with NationalMap to provide a more efficient workflow for the publishing and discovery of spatial data.

      • Early 2017 – Late 2017

    • design and prototype further data.gov.au platform capabilities, including: functionality to promote examples and collaboration using public data; and integration with other platforms for open data projects and third party open data platforms.

      • Early 2017 – Mid 2018

  • Finance to implement Phase One of the GrantConnect platform to enable public users to:

    • register to receive notification on grant opportunities that match their self-defined profiles;

      • Late 2016 - Late 2017

    • watch forecast opportunities as they move from planning to requests for applications; and

      • Late 2016 - Late 2017

    • access grant guidelines for each opportunity and be notified about changes to grants processes.

      • Late 2016 - Late 2017

  • Finance to launch the pilot of the digital corporate and administrative reporting platform.

    • Late 2016 - Late 2017

  • National Archives of Australia to modernise and improve access to archived records:

    • lead transition to digital information practices in Australian Government agencies and report progress to the Prime Minister in 2018;

      • Commenced - Late 2018

    • increase number of archival records available in digital formats, including World War II service and passenger arrival records; and

      • Commenced - Late 2018

    • make additional groups of archival records of high research interest available for public access.

      • Commenced - Mid 2018

  • DoEE to improve the discoverability and accessibility of environmental information:

    • launch a map-based tool to visualise Bioregional Assessment results; and

      • Early 2017 - June 2017

    • publish the State of the Environment 2016 report through an online information publishing and reporting platform and release the underlying data on data.gov.au.

      • Commenced - February / March 2017