Data sharing: making services fit for the 21st century

20 August 2018

In Reform’s new report, ‘Sharing the benefits: how to use data effectively in the public sector’, they rightly state that, in reality “the public sector has not lived up to its ambition of creating joined-up public services underpinned by an effective system for sharing data across multiple organisations.”

They note many reasons for this. The most compelling revolve around a failure of the leadership across the whole public sector to agree on a sound Data Quality Assurance Toolkit, open standards and trustworthy audit trails. In addition, a long-term culture change is needed, where all those involved with collecting and using data understand its value and the need for data security; share objectives to improve service delivery through co-operation and data sharing; and communicate effectively with the public to ensure their trust in what is being done for them.

As the report notes, the work that has taken place in association with the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into law in May this year, sets a foundation for this culture change. It is imperative that the public sector now builds on this once in a generation opportunity to get things right for the future.

Public-sector leaders in data management in all central departments, local government and the NHS in particular should read and act on Reform’s recommendations, so that there can be an order of magnitude improvement in public sector service delivery, making it at long last fit for the 21st century.

Dr Louise Bennett, Co-Chair Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group

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