Government invests in data analytics

Data Integration Partnership for Australia to boost data-driven policy, government says

Data analytics teams will help drive evidence-based programs and policy under the government’s Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA).

The federal budget, handed down earlier this month, $161.5 million for “improving policy, programs and service delivery through the better use of government data to assist in delivering a more productive economy”.

Some $130 million of that will be spent to over three years to fund the DIPA, assistant minister for cities and digital transformation, Angus Taylor, said today.

In addition to DIPA, the budget set aside funding to expand the CSIRO’s Data61 arm and for a Geoscience Australia platform that will help analyses satellite data. The budget also funded work on a data integration platform to support law enforcement and regulatory agencies.

Through the DIPA the government will “transform the analysis of public data to improve policy and program implementation and expenditure,” budget documents stated.

“Integrating data from across government, and providing access via a single entry point will reduce duplication, encourage efficiency, and lead to long-term reform in data collection and use. Through enhanced data analytics, the Government will be able to design better-targeted and more effective services in education, social services, health and aged care.”

“Data analytics provides an extraordinary opportunity to support policy development and deliver real outcomes for Australians,” Taylor said today in a statement.

“A central capability within the DIPA will coordinate specialised teams focused on social, industry, environmental and government efficiency policies.”

The government said that the partnership will create high-value data sets on populations, businesses, the environment and government.

Data will be “de-identified and analysed in controlled environments governed by strict processes and legislation,” a statement from the government said.

Last year Melbourne University researchers revealed that the Department of Health had made available improperly de-identified data on the government’s data.gov.au portal.

In response, the government has sought to make re-identifying government datasets a criminal act.  The government’s proposed legislation has raised concerns about a possible chilling effect on cyber security research.

The bill’s future remains uncertain after Labor and Greens members of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee criticised it. The bill is currently before the Senate.

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