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  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Written by on Thursday, April 11, 2013 16:59 - 13 Comments

    Pia Waugh takes control of data.gov.au

    Rows of File Folders Arranged on Shelf with Client Data

    blog One of the key parts of the ongoing Government 2.0 initiative which has been making its way felt throughout Australia’s various public sector organisations over the past several years is the ongoing release of various datasets owned by departments and agencies. The rationale for the release of this data under un-restrictive licences is clear: It’s data which belongs to the public, and if the public can make use of it, then it should be allowed to.


    Since December 2012, the Federal Government has had a new champion for this and other Government 2.0 initiatives; and they’re a change agent which the Australian IT industry knows quite well. At that time, the Department of Finance and Deregulation appointed Pia Waugh to be its new Director of Coordination and Gov 2.0 for its Technology & Procurement Division (working under whole of government chief technology officer John Sheridan). Waugh is a long-time advisor to Senator Kate Lundy (who has also been very interested in the Government 2.0 movement), and also has a varied past in Australia’s open source and Linux movement, including involvement in the One Laptop Per Child project. For many years Waugh has been one of the driving forces in Australia’s IT industry pushing the concept of openness.

    In a new post today on the blog of the Australian Government Information Management Office, Waugh outlines one of her first major initiatives — enhancing the data.gov.au site, where government datasets are openly released. Waugh writes:

    We plan to move data.gov.au to an open data platform for all Agencies to use, and prioritise technical support initially for a few keen agencies who want to have their data accessible by API for policy analysis, improved applications development and data visualisation purposes. Then we can scale support for additional agencies as skills and capacity are built up and add new features and functionality over time. We will take a consultative, iterative and collaborative approach.

    Waugh has planned a variety of initiatives as part of the data.gov.au development roadmap, ranging from moving to a new publishing platform, to working with a number of interested government agencies to get further data published, to working with developers and interested parties on what use can be made of the data. All of the details are in her post, and if you’re interested in this area, I highly recommend you check them out. In a wider sense, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Waugh conduct a number of similar rejuvenation moves across similar areas in Government 2.0 circles in Canberra over the next year or so. The executive is one who very much *gets* this space and is highly respected in the industry in general, and I suspect that she will make a great deal of progress on these kinds of issues, working with Sheridan, who has been one of the few within the Federal Government to truly understand this space so far.

    Image credit: Pia Waugh

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    1. Marcus
      Posted 11/04/2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Woo hoo! Nice work Pia..!

      Such a Open Data Ninja :-D

    2. Posted 11/04/2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Renai, thanks very much for the kudos! It’s fantastic to be working on data.gov.au and in the Technology and Procurement Division in Finance, because doing awesome whole of government tech is exactly the reason I came to the public service in the first place ;) We have some amazing people here doing great work, so it is quite a team effort! Kudos also to my boss, the CTO John Sheridan.

      I encourage anyone interested in this space to come to our data.gov.au roadmap discussion events (for agencies and for the general public) on the 19th April – details on the blog post you linked to http://agimo.gov.au/2013/04/10/draft-roadmap-for-data-gov-au/


    3. The12thMan
      Posted 11/04/2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Waugh Waugh, what is she good for.

      • Posted 11/04/2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Heh, yeah, totally need a new theme song ;)

      • Mark Harris
        Posted 11/04/2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Everything! (including kicking pacifist butt!)

    4. Tom Dullemond
      Posted 12/04/2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink | Reply

      Good to see Pia progressing, step-by-step, to world domination.

      • Tel
        Posted 13/04/2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink | Reply

        We could do worse.

        I’m in favour of low tax, but given the tax has already been spent, yeah might as well give back to the taxpayers what they already paid for.

        Also, a Democracy works much better if you have informed voters. The problem is that there still remains a lot of critical policy data that no government of the day is going to hand over to someone like Pia. Secrecy is in their DNA, I seriously don’t think that will ever change, but if it does happen to change I’ll be happy to see it.

    5. Chad
      Posted 12/04/2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink | Reply

      FWIW, I just tried to use data.gov.au a few days ago – latest release of the data I was after is 2 years out of date, links to the source don’t work.. etc.. :(

      The govt. agency responsible for the data doesn’t expose it in a structured format… so seems I’m stuck…

      • Posted 12/04/2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink | Reply

        Hi Chad,

        We are still in the process of updating data.gov.au. There is definitely a lot more data on what is currently there, but on the new platform a) it will be easier to update datasets for agencies to keep their data up to date, but importantly b) we will be focusing on helping agencies do automated publishing and updates in order to deal with exactly that issues. Thanks though and feel free to drop us an email with what dataset you are after and we can chase it up :)


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