NSW Data Analytics Centre to get 'legislative teeth'

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NSW Data Analytics Centre to get 'legislative teeth'
Victor Dominello

Bill could be introduced in next sitting.

NSW Innovation Minister Victor Dominello hopes to introduce legislation enshrining the information -sharing powers of his pet data analytics hub within a fortnight.

Speaking at the World Computer Congress in Daejeon, Korea today, Dominello told the audience that the Data Analytics Centre, announced in August, will need “legislative teeth” if it is to meet its full potential as a broker of valuable government information.

The impending bill “will be my first order of business when I get back into Australia,” he said.

“We need a carrot and a stick to ensure the heads of government agencies get with the program."

The text of the seven-page bill is still with cabinet, but has been the subject of “lengthy, deep and brooding bureaucratic introspection”, according to the minister.

He said the arduous process to get the bill to Macquarie Street reflected the need for a cultural change in the way the public service treats its data silos.

Dominello revealed he has been working in close consultation with Michael Flowers, the chief analytics officer appointed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009 to lead the city’s own office of analytics.

Despite NYC’s documented successes, Flowers told Dominello he wished the office had more statutory power to meet its goals, advice the NSW politician has clearly taken to heart.

The DAC, which will be located within the Department of Finance and Innovation, will act as a whole-of-government data adjudicator, managing the terms by which NSW agencies share information with each other, with one eye on boosting public sector performance.

The office will carry out nine key functions, including the operation of a central register of government datasets, the distribution of advice on data taxonomies, and the privacy, cyber security and open data implications of sharing it.

It will also become the first port of call for private sector organisations interested in re-using public sector information to further business goals.

Dominello said as an example, DAC co-operation could have a stopped a grossly over-leased illegal boarding house in Sydney's Ultimo - discovered ealier this year - if energy usage data was matched against the property's stated occupancy.

The DAC will be headed by a NSW government chief data scientist. Recruitment has yet to begin for the role.

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