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Improve the sharing, use and reuse of public sector data

What are your views on improving the sharing, use and reuse of public sector data?Lead implementing agency/actor

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


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.

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 (NDC) 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 public sector data
  • 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?

In implementing the reforms, PM&C 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. 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. 

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

Announcement of response to Productivity Commission


Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable

Start Date: End Date:

Appoint National Data Commissioner

Q3 2018 Q4 2019

Develop legislation, including public consultation

Q3 2018 Q4 2019

Establish National Data Advisory Council to advise the National Data Commissioner

Q3 2018 Q4 2019

National Data Commissioner issues first guidance and standards

Q3 2019 Q3 2020


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

Other actors involved

State actors: All Australian Public Service entities using data 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 Australia Bureau of Statistics will provide technical guidance and support to the National Data Commissioner.

CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups:  Specific organizations not currently known, but expect that a wide range will be consulted in the development of the legislation.

Discussion question

Is this draft commitment specific, relevant, and ambitious?


To participate, you’ll need to register for an account. You’ll then be able to respond to the questions under each of the proposed themes, leave a general comment or respond to those of other participants, and vote on comments.

We expect your comments to be respectful and relevant. As comments are moderated, they won’t appear until they’ve been approved. If, after submission, you do not receive a notification stating that your comment has been queued for review, your submission has not been successfully transmitted to us. In this case, please email your submission to ogp@pmc.gov.au and we will publish it on your behalf. Comments will close 8 July.

If you wish to make a longer submission, you can email us at ogp@pmc.gov.au. We’ll publish all submissions we receive.

The outputs from this and the face-to-face consultations will be made available to the Open Government Forum. At its meeting in July, the Forum will be asked to consider feedback and make final recommendations to government on the form of Australia's second Open Government National Action Plan 2018-20.


Submissions and comments received via email



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Open Government...

The Melbourne consultation to finalise the National Action Plan were held on 29 June and were attended by 23 participants from civil society. Specific feedback on the commitment ‘Improve the sharing, use and reuse of public sector data’ included:

  • the commitment should have a greater focus and emphasis on privacy and protections
  • the commitment needs to better define what ‘public sector data’ is and how this builds on similar commitments in NAP1

The following comments below were also received on the draft commitment. 

Vote up!

Open Government...

The Canberra consultation to finalise the National Action Plan was held on 27 June and were attended by four participants from civil society. The following comments below were received on the draft commimtment 'Improving the Sharing, Use and Reuse of Public Sector Data': 

Vote up!

Michelle Falstein

The draft commitment is ambitious but ill conceived. The public’s trust in the collection use and sharing of public data has been shaken by some recent high profile data breaches. To meet community values and expectations more consultation into the implementation and monitoring of the reforms needs to take place. Increased sharing of individuals data needs meaningful consent, not bundled with other purposes that removes an individuals ability to opt out of sharing. There may be a number of good reasons why consent may be withheld and data should not be shared. There is increased likelihood of unauthorised hacking or access or authorised but negligent access, with increased sharing. Different levels of access and sharing need to be determined based on the sensitivity of the data and the level of authority of the public servants sharing that data.

Vote up!

Peter Timmins

This commitment is to do things the government will do in any event in proceeding with the announced response to the Productivity Commission report. The commitment is stated as in "implementing the reforms, PM&C commits to consulting......"
PMC has released a Discussion Paper on the topic this week.
I'd be guided on whether this is the best, highest priority by those who are more immersed in the big picture and the detail about open data.

The submission from the Open Contracting Partnership raises important issues about the role of the National Data Commissioner, and the obvious linkages with the functions and work of the information and privacy commissioners.

The folly of one commissioner instead of the three in the OAIC as legislated has been clear to those of us on the outside for years.

Hopefully becoming even more so as time goes on to those on the inside.

Vote up!

Cameron Shorter

Sharing public data provides noble goals, but as written, government can claim this commitment complete merely by opening access to datasets without addressing the more challenging task of making the data is usable.
For this policy to be implemented effectively, it should tie back to measures of data use. This requires an understanding of the characteristics of data management, and should mention measures such as: quality, fitness for purpose, ability to integrate with other data sources, standards based data structures, relevance, usability, timeliness, sustainability of maintenance. I discuss these issues in more detail here: http://cameronshorter.blogspot.com/2018/03/what-could-open-government-le...

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Barbara Reed

2. Improve the sharing, use and reuse of public sector data: This commitment seems to have morphed into the single issue being addressed with the introduction of Commonwealth Data Sharing and Release Act. While this initiative is laudable, it is clearly not particularly aspirational as draft legislation is already available for comment and the governing body has been established. This particular legislative response is based on ‘productivity’ and contestable business initiatives, intended to apply across various industries. In terms of the citizen, these anticipated changes do little but allow data to be transferred between various suppliers. There is no increase in capacity for individuals to take control of their data and actively exercise management. The make up of the Data Standards Body reinforces the view that this is really about commercial interests. It is noteworthy that this data transfer provision is included under the single European directive GDPR, placing it far less ambiguously in the privacy regime.

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Barbara Reed

The Data Sharing and Release Act introduced yet another agency into the already fragmented information management space – the National Data Commissioner. The increase in fragmentation of responsibility for information management across the Commonwealth is already creating confusion and in doing so, the opportunities for oversight and citizen focus potentially disappear between the cracks. Involved organisations already include: ACCC; OAIC – Privacy Commissioner, Information Commissioner; National Data Commissioner; Digital Transformation Agency (for data.gov.au); National Archives of Australia for information management guidance and standards.

There is a lack of cohesion in the Commonwealth government’s information management space. The nominated initiative is not particularly innovative nor aspirational. The focus on a single strategy loses sight of the commitments of the first national action plan to review the whole information management framework. Returning to that commitment and retaining it as unfinished business into the second plan is desirable.

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