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Data Integration Partnership for Australia

The Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA) is a coordinated APS-wide investment to maximise the use of Government data assets, allowing cost effective and timely insights into data that is already available. DIPA will lead to improvements in the social and economic welfare of all Australians through more efficient and better targeted, evidence-based Government policies, programs and services.

In May 2017, the Government announced an investment of $130.8 million over three years to deliver the Data Integration Partnership for Australia. The ABS has been funded $37.7 million over three years (2017–18 to 2019–20) for its part in the implementation of the partnership.

The ABS’s role in DIPA is to apply our technical ability to integrate datasets from across government to produce high-value and enduring data assets for policy and research analysis. Under DIPA, our model for integrating and providing access to data has been policy driven, focusing on policy and research needs of government across social, environmental and economic portfolios, while retaining confidentiality.

The DIPA initiative has enabled the ABS to enhance integrated datasets which have been developed in partnership with other Australian Government agencies since 2014–15. These include the most comprehensive people and business centred data assets in Australia – Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) (people centred) and Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) (business centred). Through DIPA these assets have been expanded to include longitudinal data from across government and are already being used for policy relevant research, for example:

  • MADIP data is being used to support decision making around models for non-Government school funding. This research is now available to help determine the efficient allocation of $145 billion of Commonwealth funds over the next 10 years.
  • BLADE data has delivered key insights into drivers of the Australian economy. For example, in a Department of Industry, Innovation and Science publication ‘Entrepreneurship Dynamics in Australia’ it was revealed that there is a strong relationship between entrepreneurship and job creation in Australia.

On behalf of the MADIP partner agencies, the ABS commissioned an independent Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for MADIP, published on 4 April 2018. Conducting an independent PIA demonstrates a genuine commitment to building privacy protections into the design of MADIP, as well as the government’s commitment to transparency and community engagement for data use. The independent PIA is seen as a crucial element in increasing trust in MADIP and other Commonwealth data integration work.

The ABS is collaborating with a number of agencies to deliver additional innovative integrated statistical solutions. For example, to address a key data gap in the area of environmental and location data, the ABS is working with partner agencies including the Department of Environment and Energy to build a Location Integration Capability (LOC-I). This project will enable a consistent and efficient way to conduct location based research on integrated data assets.

During 2017–18, the ABS also focused on improving governance and access arrangements to increase the number of selected researchers able to access MADIP and BLADE data through the ABS DataLab, the current ABS data analysis platform. This has resulted in a significant increase in researcher access, with 89 government officers now with access and a further 48 currently applying (as of June 2018). In addition, selected academic access to MADIP and BLADE occurred in 2017–18 for the first time, with three BLADE and three MADIP academic access trials underway.

Increasing safe access for both government and non-government researchers will continue to be a focus for the ABS in 2018–19, including the testing of innovative solutions such as the use of an Application Programming Interface (API) to access confidentialised DIPA data.

Until DIPA, there had been no single coordinated national approach to data integration, and the capacity to link and analyse the Government’s valuable data assets has been limited. Through DIPA, the ABS is making a significant contribution to a whole-of-government initiative to make better use of existing public data.