National Data Strategy

Response to the UK National Data Strategy

We have consulted with data practitioners across government resulting in 9 recommendations. You can download our full response, which provides the context and evidence that underpins these 9 recommendations.

Download White Paper

Executive Summary

This document provides a response to the National Data Strategy (NDS). We have consulted widely with data practitioners across government to review the NDS. The NDS is welcomed, but in its current form it will not achieve what it should and is missing significant areas. As practitioners we value a high-level view that encapsulates breadth and direction of purpose and have adapted the NDS framework diagram accordingly, so that it reflects outcomes not organisations. Further discovery workshops to broaden the NDS would be a mistake, "delivery is the strategy" and moving to action with practitioners to resolve omissions and issues is the better mitigation.

Our summary recommendations are:

  • The National Data Strategy (NDS) needs strong political backing for medium term investment, with a clear strategy for data across government and the wider public sector, and a framework which is outcome focussed and assigns delivery responsibilities.
  • The NDS should be practitioner lead. User needs are the practical lens for directing action and focusing efforts to assure different data sharing initiatives drive value through to citizens.
  • The newly appointed Government CDIO should become the Data Controller for all central government data , with each department becoming a Data Processor. The intention of this is to put in place a simple, central arbitration mechanism to resolve debates and unblock barriers to data sharing between departments. A similar arrangement should be put in place for Local Government data.
  • Improvements in the Data Literacy (as opposed to Data Skills) of politicians and senior officials is essential to meet the needs of a modern digital economy. We recommend the development of collaborative data platforms for policy makers to guide and assure the use of data and to improve data literacy through sharing.
  • Government should commit to move away from data silos, by developing cross-Government Data Infrastructure for citizen facing service delivery, assessing public sector IT spend from a data perspective and mandating all data is designed and prepared for re-use from the outset.
  • The building blocks of interoperability are current blind spots in the NDS and should be addressed, including data infrastructure, data architecture and the significant omission of geospatial data.
  • Implement the NAO report "Challenges in using data across government" June 2019 in full.
  • Government should develop a single framework for Data Ethics and Data Transparency based on current working examples from within Government and remove siloes of activity in this area. Citizen user research should be undertaken on the public acceptability of personal data use across the public sector for operational systems, in policy development and for statistics and research purposes. Parallel citizen user research should be carried out to determine the public acceptability of business and commercial use of personal data.
  • Legislative changes may be necessary to enable a fully functioning public and private sector data-enabled economy for the UK. We recommend that the reduction in siloed working for data should also applied to the policy space to ensure that future legislation draws on working examples of best practice with data (i.e. learn by doing).