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ATO as data service provider?

by Chris Huckstepp •
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The ATO could play a greater role as service provider of depersonalised data due to its vast collection of electronic records, according to its Chief Information Officer Bill Gibson.

Gibson made the comments at the Technology in Government conference in Canberra last week, joining panelists from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Geoscience Australia and SAS, in a discussion titled ‘The big data opportunity’.  

The comments are in line with the ATO’s IT Strategy, which articulates the intention of the agency to transition from “tightly holding [their] data to sharing and publishing datasets for whole-of-government and public use.”

Gibson conceded that whole-of-government data sharing is difficult, as high volumes of data create barriers to sharing in a business-as-usual sense, despite permitting transactional exchanges.

Recent whole-of-government (WofG) commitments to big data include the ATO led WofG Data Analytics Centre of Excellence, and the APS Better Practice Guide for Big Data’ issued April 2014.

The Federal Government has also released a draft ‘Responsible Data Analytics (RDA)’ document, intended as an appendix to the APS Guide. The RDA makes it clear that trust is an essential consideration when making decisions about the use of citizens’ data.  

“Public sector agencies need to ensure that they maintain trust and operate within acceptable bounds as they increase their use of new technologies such as data analytics,” says the guide.

Depersonalised data refers to data collected about an individual or group presented in a way that the user cannot identify the individual or group. 

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