Foundational Four - Guidance for agencies to improve their data practices

The Office of the National Data Commissioner has released the Foundational Four: guidance for agencies on how they can improve their data practices and address the technical and cultural challenges limiting their ability to get the most out of the data they hold.

My role as Interim National Data Commissioner is to shepherd through legislative reforms to make sharing of government data easier and safer, including providing practical advice on how the Australian Public Service (APS) can improve data management. My experience of the APS is that there are varying levels of data maturity and a real need for guidance to be made available for those agencies just starting to develop their data practices. 

The four foundational elements are a starting point from which agencies can begin to build their data practices. They are simple and useful steps that agencies can take towards working with data more productively.

This guidance has drawn on local and international best practice data governance and management. It is the product of months of collaboration between data experts across the APS, incorporating feedback from agencies at different stages of their data journey. The Foundational Four has been endorsed by the Deputy Secretaries Data Group. 

The Foundational Four is a great starting point, but improvements to data practices within the APS will only be possible if departments also invest in the data skills and capabilities of their staff, and work to change the culture from one of ‘not sharing’ to one of ‘how can I share safely?’

Visit to find out how your agency can get more out of the data it holds.

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