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Challenges in using data across government

Data is crucial to the way government delivers services for citizens, improves its own systems and processes, and makes decisions. Our work has repeatedly highlighted the importance of evidence-based decision-making at all levels of government activity, and the problems that arise when data is inadequate.

Government recognises the value of using data more effectively, and the importance of ensuring security and public trust in how it is used. It plans to produce a new national data strategy in 2020. To achieve its ambitions for data, government will need to resolve fundamental challenges around how to use and share data safely and appropriately, and how to balance competing demands on public resources in a way that allows for sustained but proportionate investment in data.

This report sets out the National Audit Office’s experience of data across government, including initial efforts to start to address the issues. From our past work we have identified three areas where government needs to establish the pre-conditions for success: clear strategy and leadership; a coherent infrastructure for managing data; and broader enablers to safeguard and support the better use of data.