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Improve the sharing, use and reuse of public sector data

Overall status:


What is the public problem that the commitment will address?

Government data offers significant opportunity for innovation in Government services, economic enterprise, research and development and transparency. Greater availability of data held by government increases transparency and openness.

The Productivity Commission identified existing data governance arrangements are complex and prevent the use and reuse of data. The PC found barriers to sharing include a dense web of legislative requirements, a culture of risk aversion and a lack of a whole of government approach. The PC found these barriers could be addressed through reforms to the way data sharing and use is governed.

The Australian Government has committed to implementing a simpler, more efficient data sharing and release framework by establishing:

  • a new Commonwealth Data Sharing and Release Act to streamline access and use of data; and
  • a new National Data Commissioner to oversee the framework and legislation, and issue guidance and support to agencies to meet the new requirements.

The new Data Sharing and Release Act will:

  • promote better sharing of data held by the Australian Government;
  • build trust in use of public data;
  • dial up or down appropriate safeguards;
  • maintain the integrity of the data system; and
  • establish institutional arrangements.

What is the commitment?

Building on commitments under Australia’s first National Action Plan, this commitment focuses on the implementation of data governance reforms announced by the Australian Government in May 2018. These reforms will increase data access and use within government and with trusted users outside government, while improving data privacy and security with strengthened and consistent safeguards.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet commits to consulting across government, through the new National Data Advisory Council (see current Action Plan), with the Open Government Forum and with the public including businesses, civil society groups and research and non‑profit sectors to design and develop the implementation of the reforms.

As a first step, the Government has released an Issues Paper for public feedback and comments by 1 August. The paper outlines an approach to a new Data Sharing and Release Bill which aims to balance sharing data held by government with appropriate risk management.

As committed under Australia’s first National Action Plan, the National Data Advisory Council will be a multi-disciplinary expert panel drawn from public sector and civic society organisations.

How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?

The reforms aim to promote better sharing of public sector data while building the public’s trust in use of public data by ensuring appropriate safeguards and integrity in the data system.

To do this, we need to ensure that the implementation of the reforms is consistent with community values and expectations. This commitment will build consultation into the implementation and monitoring of the reforms.

The new legislation will exist alongside existing legislation and data safeguards in the Privacy Act 1988; Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017; Australian Government Agencies Privacy Code; Archives Act 1983, National Archives of Australia information management standards and Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, and Protective Security Policy Framework requirements relating to releasing classified information.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?

This commitment for these reforms is relevant to several OGP values in the following ways:

Access to information

  • The reforms, in particular the Data Sharing and Release Act, will streamline the sharing of data held by government to those within and external to the system while maintaining strong safeguards around data access.

Civic participation

  • This commitment will build consultation into the implementation and monitoring of the reforms, including through the National Data Advisory Council (a commitment under the current National Action Plan).

Public accountability

  • The Data Sharing and Release Act will require increased transparency on how data is shared across government.
  • Greater sharing and better use of data will improve agencies’ ability to evaluate policies and programs effectively.

Additional information

Current status

On track


Data and Digital Branch, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet - DataLegislation@pmc.gov.au

Other stakeholders

State actors involved -  All Australian Public Service entities will be consulted through Government processes, including the Attorney-General’s Department, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the National Archives of Australia. The National Data Commissioner will work closely alongside the Information and Privacy Commissioners. The Australia Bureau of Statistics will provide technical guidance and support to the National Data Commissioner.

CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups - A wide range of relevant stakeholders will be consulted in the development of the legislation, including privacy advocates, academics and researchers, and other peak bodies.

Steps to implementation

Implementation Step Implementation Period Status

Appoint National Data Commissioner

Q3 2018 - Q4 2019 On-track

Consultation on the on the approach to the design of the legislation to ensure it balances sharing data held by government with appropriate risk management

Q3 2018 - Q4 2019 On-track

Establish National Data Advisory Council to advise the National Data Commissioner

Q3 2018 - Q4 2019 Not yet commenced

National Data Commissioner issues first guidance and standards

Q3 2019 - Q3 2020 Not yet commenced
Last updated: 12/02/2019

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