Australian government agencies ‘struggling to make data-driven decisions’

By on 04/03/2022 | Updated on 04/03/2022
Office worker sat looking at a data visual
Australia’s Digital Government Strategy aims to make the country one of the top three digital governments in the world.

Around three quarters of Australian government agencies claim to be hampered in their ability to make decisions because of data collection issues, with only 4% able to get a full view of citizen data, according to a survey.

The survey published last month and based on research by UK software firm Quantexa consists of interviews with Australian government decision makers. The firm surveyed 150 IT and data decision makers across Australia and Singapore, asking questions on issues such as the quality of data, its practical application in decision-making and the efficacy of their current approach.

It showed that in addition to the minority of government agencies that manage to achieve “a complete view” of citizen data, only 8% claim to have a culture built around data-driven strategies.

In the interviews, decision makers said harnessing data to make decisions remained difficult, despite the speed at which government agencies had moved towards digitisation over the last five years.

Read more: Australian Public Service launches data profession

Shaun Mathieson, Quantexa’s regional vice president in Asia Pacific, said agencies were struggling especially to “manage regulatory change to assess fraud risk holistically, and to provide the seamless digital experience their citizens expect”.

Nearly half of government respondents claimed “inflexible data models” were a significant hindrance, as well as agencies’ overreliance on lengthy manual processes to upload data. Key to this was what respondents described as agencies’ hesitation to automate decision-making.

Bridging data and decisions

Australia’s Digital Government Strategy and Data Strategy, both launched in 2021, outline the federal government’s vision for digital transformation over the next five to 10 years. Central to its strategy is the goal of becoming one of the top three digital governments in the world, with all its services accessible online by 2025.

In order to achieve this, the federal government will have to join up data points across organisations and external data sources. Mathieson said this could be the key to bridging the data-decision gap.

“This means they have real-world intelligence for informed decision-making,” he said.

Read more: Global report reveals senior officials lack understanding to drive digital transformation of government

However, the research found that 95% of organisations in Australia and Singapore struggle with data despite increased focus during the pandemic.

In 2020, the Australian Public Service (APS) launched a data professional stream in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to improve its data capabilities and as well as its ability to gather, manage and deploy data

The data professional stream was based on recommendation of the Thodey Review of the APS, which was submitted to government in September 2019. The review also catalysed the launch of the Human Resources Professional Stream in that year, as well as the data professional stream.

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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