Office of Spatial Policy takes over govt data portal

 

Agencies call for standardised data formats.

Australia's Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism has assumed responsibility for the Government's data.gov.au data portal.

The portal houses 864 datasets from 111 agencies. It was created in 2009 under a Government 2.0 Taskforce initiative, and relaunched last year.

Delegates at the Government-sponsored GovCamp conference yesterday heard that the Department of Resources' Office of Spatial Policy (OSP) had agreed to become the business owner of data.gov.au.

The decision followed discussions between the OSP, AGIMO and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

OSP general manager Helen Owens said AGIMO would act as the technical lead for data.gov.au, while the OAIC would be the policy lead.

Some GovCamp delegates feared that the move may set back consistent standards in the formats of the data.

National Archives of Australia project manager Geoff Mason noted that inconsistent formats of data.gov.au data made it difficult to do analysis across all Government issues.

He questioned how the three data.gov.au managers would work with agencies to establish "the best format to make information accessible for the future".

"One of our biggest challenges that we are going to face is what are the standards we are going to stick to," he said.

“Surely there’s a role for Government agencies to ensure there is some consistency?”

Owens said it was up to individual agencies to act as custodians for their data sets, and set their own standards and formats "with technology in mind".

She said OSP’s role was to "fit business rules around how data.gov.au works", including how it could be linked to relevant state-run data portals through cloud technology.

GovCamp delegates heard that the OSP would likely act as the lead agency for records management standards and "probably metadata". Other agencies would likely lead the charge on standards in their areas of expertise.

A delegate from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship acknowledged that the allocation of responsibilities for data.gov.au was a "positive first step".

"I have tried to use data.gov.au before and I have not found anything useful there," he said.

"You need to convince a lot of people at the top. Data.gov.au has been around for a long time and it has not sunk in yet. So maybe there’s something different you can do."

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