In a move to adapt to a world in which data is being increasingly digitalised, the productivity commission has drafted several recommendations for how the government can implement changes to best take advantage of this situation. The commission’s draft on data availability and use outlines recommendations that would allow data to be more easily accessible for the individual, businesses and the government. The Australian Taxpayers' Alliance made a submission into the open access of public data, in a way that would maximise the potential of technological innovation through a Transparency Expenditure Portal.
One major recommendation is for the creation of data registries at the government, state and territory levels. Whilst the commission’s initiative for greater transparency to data is commendable, the draft scarcely mentions the role that data registries would play in the provision of greater transparency of public expenditure. For this reason, our first of two amendments recommends that ‘financial expenditure data’ be explicitly stated in relation to the creation of such data registries. In doing so, it would ensure that the registries do not exclude important information regarding how taxpayer’s money is spent.
Our second amendment was for the extension of data registries to include a centralised ‘Transparency Expenditure Portal’ (TEP). Such a portal would allow any person to access information about public expenditure from a centralised source. The great thing about implementing a TEP is that it would effectively pay for itself. Revealing how each federal, state and local government spends their taxpayers’ money provides an incentive to use the funds more efficiently, since the potential for holding the government accountable for how they manage public funds would be greater. The TEP would give the taxpayer the means to measure up the benefits and costs of each area of government activity, and enable them to determine whether their money is being used effectively.
The final draft for the commission’s inquiry into data availability and use is expected to be handed to the Australian Government in March 2017. It is our hope that the productivity commission take our recommendations on-board, leading to a more transparent and efficient government.