Government data management for the digital age

Essay by Axel Domeyer, Solveigh Hieronimus, Julia Klier, and Thomas Weber: “Digital society’s lifeblood is data—and governments have lots of data, representing a significant latent source of value for both the public and private sectors. If used effectively, and keeping in mind ever-increasing requirements with regard to data protection and data privacy, data can simplify delivery of public services, reduce fraud and human error, and catalyze massive operational efficiencies.

Despite these potential benefits, governments around the world remain largely unable to capture the opportunity. The key reason is that data are typically dispersed across a fragmented landscape of registers (datasets used by government entities for a specific purpose), which are often managed in organizational silos. Data are routinely stored in formats that are hard to process or in places where digital access is impossible. The consequence is that data are not available where needed, progress on digital government is inhibited, and citizens have little transparency on what data the government stores about them or how it is used.

Only a handful of countries have taken significant steps toward addressing these challenges. As other governments consider their options, the experiences of these countries may provide them with valuable guidance and also reveal five actions that can help governments unlock the value that is on their doorsteps.

As societies take steps to enhance data management, questions on topics such as data ownership, privacy concerns, and appropriate measures against security breaches will need to be answered by each government. The purpose of this article is to outline the positive benefits of modern data management and provide a perspective on how to get there…(More)”.