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Q&A: Tim Beard on the Government’s data management strategies

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Tim Beard

Tim Beard is the Head of the Data Capability and Reporting team at the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources where he is responsible for a range of data priorities. The department’s Data Strategy aims to use data and analytics to acquire the evidence needed to deliver impactful policies and practice within and outside of the Government. 

In this interview, we talked to Tim Beard about the Government’s strategies on data management. 

Public Spectrum: How has data management been useful to the Government? 

Tim Beard: Data management is a crucial element in the work of government. The ability to develop and deliver evidence-based policies and programs is reliant on data that can be trusted. 

Knowing what data your organisation holds, who is responsible for it, and under what conditions it can be shared are all very important questions to answer. The Government needs strong data management to continue supporting the Australian community as the economy recovers from the global pandemic. We can only do this with data that can accurately answer all the right questions. 

PS: Is there an instance where the Government successfully dealt with problems related to data management? 

TB: The rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia is a good example. A number of agencies needed to share data when the pandemic hit to ensure all aspects of the government’s response were given proper consideration.  

A large number of federal agencies were also able to come up with an agreed data management plan to ensure they all had access to the data they needed while keeping sensitive and personal data safe from potential misuse. 

PS: What do you think will happen to the Government’s data management capabilities after all lockdown restrictions are completely lifted? 

TB: Data management will continue to be an important aspect of government work. Access to relevant data sources is just a starting point. These sources are only able to be fully utilised with a strong set of data management practices that are also critical to protecting personal information. 

PS: How can the Government build an effective data strategy without compromising data privacy? 

TB: When developing a data strategy, it is necessary to take into account the need to protect privacy as a core consideration. Fortunately, there is a lot of guidance available to assist the government in doing this. 

Our department has shown that we are able to make a substantial volume of our data available for use without compromising privacy. We have achieved this by developing a robust set of practices under our data strategy. The key to our success is knowing who is responsible for our data assets and staying aware of the legislative environment. This allowed us to develop clear guidelines to determine under what conditions data can be shared and published.  

Tim Beard was a speaker at the recently concluded 7th Annual Australian Government Data Summit 2021. Catch all our events to join experts in the field of data strategy and innovation. 

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