OUTCOMES OF CONSULTATION
The intelligence provided from this process was a mixture of operational concerns and strategic, cross-government issues. Within this, some clear themes arose. Provided below are the three most commonly raised statistical infrastructure opportunities and barriers.
THREE MOST COMMONLY RAISED OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE STATISTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Fourteen stakeholders (10 Commonwealth agencies and 4 states and territories) highlighted opportunities, all of which are already underway, to improve statistical infrastructure.
Opportunity 1 – Leverage existing IT infrastructure developments for wider use
This opportunity was raised by 11 stakeholders. Some examples follow:
Opportunity 2 – Harness specific existing developments for the national good, e.g. specific statistical standards, metadata registers, alternative frames and toolkits related to statistical standards, classifications and registers
- ABS Table-Builder could be used by other organisations to present more official data in an effective and engaging way.
- Validata™ is data validation built by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that significantly improves timeliness for finalisation of datasets by quickly picking up anomalies and unlikely occurrences in supplied data.
- The use of the data.gov.au platform for hosting or linking data to maximise discoverability and re-use.
- Make better use of publically available statistical infrastructure assets such as the Geocoded National Address File (G-NAF) for statistical and research purposes.
This opportunity was raised by 5 stakeholders. For example it includes:
Opportunity 3 – Synchronise investment in new infrastructure
- Making broader use of national data standards such as those in the National Health Data Dictionary.
- Improved use of METeOR, a metadata repository built by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, to house national statistical data standards.
- Toolkits such as those provided as part of the Tasmanian Stats Matters initiative to build knowledge, statistical capability and enhance the culture of valuing statistical information as a norm within and across governments.
This opportunity was raised by 3 stakeholders. Some examples include:
THREE MOST COMMONLY RAISED BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE STATISTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
- Synchronising investment in new infrastructure by those Commonwealth agencies undertaking transformation work rather than developing infrastructure in isolation.
- Use of specific infrastructure developments more widely, for example, the ABS Address Register.
All stakeholders consulted (13 Commonwealth agencies and 8 states and territories) highlighted statistical infrastructure barriers associated with producing, accessing or using data within Australia’s statistical system.
Barrier 1 – Incompatible systems, methods and processes across government
This barrier was raised by 16 stakeholders, including 10 Commonwealth agencies and 6 of the 8 states and territories. Some examples follow:
Barrier 2 – Lack of national standards, definitions, classifications, documentation, metadata and inconsistent application
- Machinery of government changes can present multi-layered challenges. The time and cost involved with integrating infrastructure and the barriers due to incompatible statistical infrastructure between departments, particularly with ageing systems, was raised as an issue in bringing together service delivery information required as a result of machinery of government changes.
- Lack of inherent links to metadata, being able to use data interactively, and dynamic confidentialisation, were cited by as barriers to improving statistical system compatibility.
- Lack of reliable, compatible and user-friendly dissemination systems across government and the need for consensus to build systems that can ‘talk' to each other and provide a single source of truth. A related issue reported was inconsistent standards and coding used by several systems that report the same information.
This barrier was raised by 11 stakeholders, 8 of which were Commonwealth agencies and 3 states and territories. Some examples include:
Barrier 3 – Difficulty in accessing administrative data, sharing and integrating data
- Lack of coherence between types of statistical classifications (for example, population-based and industry-based classifications) as a barrier, especially to efforts across government to bring together disparate datasets to enable richer and more integrated insights.
- Statistical standards and classifications are not keeping pace with real world change and research needs. However, it was also noted that rapid change without consideration of potential statistical risk is a barrier to consistency and usability over time.
- Inadequate metadata and the lack of a whole-of-government metadata standards.
This barrier was raised by 14 stakeholders, including 9 Commonwealth departments and agencies and 5 of the 8 states and territories.
- Stakeholders considered that administration and governance were barriers to accessing data and stressed that the current lack of cross-government strategies was a barrier to mature data sharing via structured collaborations and agreements.
- Lack of cross-government sharing of data between Commonwealth and state/territory as well as with the university sector.
- There was a call for an ‘open by default’ approach to data dissemination with a caution to ensure greater understanding about how the data will be used before it is more widely available.