This is a guide for managers and executives.
Typically, open data programs will have a “data custodian” or person responsible for each dataset. Data custodians facilitate the smooth operation of open data programs by maintaining their data in line with relevant standards. Data custodians can also flag any personal information in their datasets to ensure it is excluded from release.
One or more custodians may also be responsible for maintaining the council’s open data policy and any associated process documents.
Executive or Committee involvement
It may be desirable to nominate a data custodian or champion at a senior executive level, to be supported by relevant staff. This can help establish an open data culture throughout the council and enhance the sustainability of the open data program.
Some councils have also referred the issue of open data to a working group or steering committee to help identify new datasets for publication and monitor progress. This may be a useful way of connecting data custodians located in different business units.
You may find it helpful to map out relevant approvals processes and decision points prior to establishing your open data program. These will often be specific to your council and are likely to depend on your existing governance structures and resources. However, we have compiled some initial questions to guide you.
- Who will conduct an initial review of the data?
Prior to release, the data should be reviewed to ensure it does not contain any personal information. (For more information on what constitutes ‘personal information’, see What is Privacy? – Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection)
At this point, councils will often assess the quality of the data. Any issues with data quality or currency should be noted so that potential users can be notified of the data’s limitations.
- Who will be responsible for approving the dataset for release?
For example, this could be a decision for the Manager of Information Services or a committee or working group. More complex decisions could be referred to senior management as appropriate.
- Should there be different approval mechanisms for different types of data?
For example, if the dataset contains no personal or sensitive information, a streamlined approval process may be appropriate. On the other hand, more complex decisions involving data aggregation or redacting of personal information may go through a more detailed approvals process.
Similarly, if the data is used by multiple groups within the council, coordination across different council business units may be required.
Whatever approvals process is chosen, it should facilitate the timely and efficient release of open data, while safeguarding privacy.