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First Commonwealth data fellows named

The federal government has announced the first five members of its new data fellowship program, which will help government improve its skills base in data-driven policy and service provision.

The 2016 data fellows are:

  • Alexander Kelly, The Treasury
  • Yingsong Hu, Department of Finance
  • Audrey Lobo-Pulo, The Treasury
  • Janis Dalins, Australian Federal Police
  • Thomas Rutherford, Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics

The data fellowship is one component of the Australian government’s Data Skills and Capability in the APS Framework. The framework contains a series of initiatives to ensure that the APS is well-placed to work in an era of ever-increasing volumes of publicly available data.

Treasury data specialist Alex Kelly, 33, will receive intensive coaching in a three-month placement with the CSIRO’s Data61, and aims to develop a new indicator on household spending using social media resources.

Kelly will monitor trends including travel, retail, home and car sales, to deliver a real-time read on household consumption, which is a significant component of the economy. “The data fellowship is an opportunity for me to tap into Data61’s expertise to develop a timely read of the economy, using big data and analytics,” he explained.

Data61 business development director Peter Leihn explained the program was a prime example of how cross-agency collaboration can help solve community challenges.

“As a digital educator and networker, Data61 brings people together to develop new data-centric solutions to support a wide range of industries. The data fellows have been placed within Data61 or an appropriate partner organisation to ensure the optimum combination of skills are leveraged,” he said.

Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor congratulated the winners of the data fellowship program.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the data fellows to develop their skills and work alongside some of Australia’s best researchers and engineers,” Taylor said. “We view this as both a reward for some of our top staff and a development opportunity for their future.”

The government is also encouraging APS employees and the broader public to undertake new tertiary courses in data literacy.

“There are several specialised data analytic courses and subjects offered by tertiary institutions across Australia,” said Taylor.

“These range from short courses and professional development opportunities to degrees at the Bachelor, Graduate Diploma and Masters levels. Ultimately, harnessing the value of data and the application of advanced data analytics is one of the most important things for government and the economy moving forward.”

Each year, up to 10 APS staff will be selected to participate in the data fellowship program.

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The Mandarin

The Mandarin staff journalists.