Administrative data that are collected by data custodians in different jurisdictions may have different legislative requirements associated with their use and acquisition. Each data custodian may have a different requirement for reporting on the topic of interest and also on the level of detail of data available to an external party. These differences in reporting and legislation need to be managed up front when considering acquiring administrative data. Restrictions placed on access and use of the administrative data by legislation must be understood before using administrative data.
Legislative issues to consider are the ability to follow up with a unit of the target population to an answer on their administration form, either by the receiving agency or the data custodian who manages the administrative records. Another issue to consider is whether access by the receiving agency to micro data to support further research and analysis if required is possible.
Negotiation needs to take place with the data custodians over these potential requirements as there are likely to be some issues to be addressed in order to undertake these types of investigations. These issues could include legislative or policy barriers, sensitivities about confidentiality and privacy, and lack of interest in supporting queries from receiving agencies by the data custodians.
Maintaining the confidentiality of individuals and businesses the data are collected about in any outputs produced from administrative data is extremely important. Once again, it is important to be aware of the legislative requirements of each jurisdiction and to ensure that processes are in place to meet them.
Keeping abreast of any changes in legislation which may impact on the administrative data source is important as these changes may impact on the data. For example a change in the requirements for receiving a benefit may lead to different behavioural patterns by applicants. Applicants may be more eager to complete administrative forms in a timely manner if this enables them to receive potential financial benefits quicker.
The extent to which an administrative organisation has the authority to collect information impacts on the quality of the data. A data custodian which has legal authority to collect information from respondents will have more complete data available for use by a receiving agency.