According to the recent publication by the National Audit of Commission, Federal Government agencies must improve their use of big data and analytics if they want to improve their service delivery and policy development. In a recent investigation, the audit determined only 3164 sets of data were available through Australia’s Data.gov.au in comparison to 10,000 sets in Britain and 200,000 in the United States. The public sector is lagging behind the private sector and the time has come for changes to be made.
“There is untapped potential to use anonymised data and new data analytic techniques to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government,” the report said. “The Commission recommends that the government, recognising the need to safeguard privacy concerns, rapidly improve the use of data in policy development, service delivery and fraud reduction.”
Issues around security have always held a risk adverse government back from the opportunities data offers. However with the capabilities now offered by technology, sharing data between Government departments and the public is a real possibility. Looking to examples in the private sector, specifically the financial sector, banks have found a way to maximise data potential whilst still ensuring sensitive data remains secure.
”The Commission considers the government should do more to open access to its administrative data holdings, including medical data (the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Medicare Benefits Schedule and Medicare) and welfare and social data (social security payment data),” said the report.
The Commission of Audit has called on the major agencies such as the Department of Immigration, Department of Human Services and Australian Taxation Office to prioritise their data agenda and push on with their new strategy. With the Department of Defence in the process of adapting their ICT transformation, it is clear the message is starting to get through and the next few years will be critical in the push for ‘Big Data’ in the public sector.
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