Victoria cleans up: making the most of public data

By David Donaldson

Friday May 13, 2016

The Victorian government will make more of an effort to ensure the vast troves of data it holds are clean and usable, Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings announced on Thursday.

The minister said he was “very confident” Service Victoria would be going live before the end of his government’s first term in November 2016, but emphasised he did not want to rush the process, given the enormity of the project ahead of them — there are over 500 Victorian government websites and only 1-4% of transactions are fully digital.

Speaking at an Australian Information Industry Association event launching the government’s new Information Technology Strategy 2016-2020, Jennings said there was huge untapped potential in Victorian government datasets, many of which are currently unusable.

VicRoads is one such example. Its “very comprehensive” records are “a bit hard to work”, Jennings conceded, even comparing the agency’s data to the state’s plentiful but highly polluting holdings of brown coal.

“There’s a lot of it, but actually trying to make the best use of it now and in the future is a real challenge,” he noted.

“We are trying to make sure that dataset is managed in a way that we can create a seamless way of getting in and out of that dataset from the customer’s perspective.”

Family violence agency to get broader data remit

The strategy states the government plans to create a new data agency, which The Mandarin has confirmed is the same body as the proposed family violence agency.

It will start out focusing on family violence and ultimately come to encompass broader data and information sharing issues, according to a government spokesperson.

The agency will be established “to facilitate risk management and information sharing between agencies,” according to the strategy.

“Part of this work will involve identifying legislative and other barriers to information sharing. New arrangements for information sharing and data management across government will be developed.”

It will also generate data analytic insights which “will be used by policy designers and decision makers to improve policy, service design and operational delivery”.

“Greater emphasis will be placed on creating a ‘single source of truth’ for data, better document management, and standardised data formats. Similarly, government will aim to maintain one set of common records across functions, removing the risk of duplication and improving the productivity of government employees.”

ICT project dashboard

The government is close to releasing an ICT project dashboard, the strategy reveals, with plans for it to go live in July.

This will see government publishing a quarterly array detailing the status of ICT projects with budgets over $1 million.

It is hoped the improved transparency this brings will help avoid repeating in future the ICT project blunders for which Victoria has become known.

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