Defence dept launches first ever data strategy

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Department of Defence has launched its first data strategy, promising a more disciplined and deliberate approach to the collection and use of information in decision making and policy advice.

The strategy includes the appointment of a chief data integration officer, and the creation of a new Data Division, as well as commitment to embed data literacy as a “cultural norm” across Defence.

The document outlines data pillars, priority areas and specific implementation projects which will be measured for uplift over the next wo years to inform the 2023 strategy.

The inaugural strategy is a response to the 2020 Defence Update, which warned Australia’s security had deteriorated, and a key plank of the subsequent Defence Transformation Strategy.

It also follows the release of a US Department of Defence data strategy last year which was part of the Australian ally’s own modernisation strategy.

An ADF Ghost Robotics quadruped robot. Image: Department of Defence/Jake Sims

Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie launched the Australian Defence Data Strategy 2021-2023 on Wednesday.

“Whether we like it or not, we are joined in an online contest to preserve our digital sovereignty as a country,” Mr Hastie said.

“Therefore lifting Defence’s data maturity across the organisation will position us to achieve a strategic advantage over our adversaries….Good data is the life blood of game-changing warfighting technologies, such as automated systems and Artificial Intelligence.

“If we are to benefit from those technologies, we need to rapidly lift our data maturity.”

The strategy covers all digitised data in Defence, both structured and unstructured, and places a greater emphasis on treating it as a strategic asset.

There are five pillars in the strategy: Govern, Trust, Discover, Use, and Share.

A new data integration officer will be appointed to lead the strategy and chair a defence data management board responsible for governance and coordination.

The plan also identifies five priority data areas:

  • Workforce: Defence wants abetter picture of its current workforce and their capabilities. The strategy commits to accelerating workforce data management and analytics to get it.
  • Capability Delivery: Australian Defence forces have $270 billion over a decade to build out capabilities and the data strategy promises to provide more information on how they are being delivered in line with strategic priorities. This includes better answers to the government and Australian people “where appropriate”.
  • Organisational Capacity: The strategy recognises government is increasingly asking more of Defence, including operations, regional presence, but also domestic emergencies, and new strategic taskforces. Data and analytics will give Defence the evidence base to provide clear policy advice to government on its ability to assist in this “new operating tempo”.
  • Strategic Taskforces: Defence also wants to use data to better understand who should be deployed under these taskforces and which technology is required.
  • Wellbeing of ADF members: The Department is building a Data Sharing and Analytics Solution to link Defence Personnel across internal systems and Department of Veterans’ Affairs client data. The information will be used to a whole of life view of personnel with a goal of improving their health, wellness and safety outcomes.

Uplift from the data strategy will be measured with annual assessments that “determine progress from the perspective of our senior leaders, technical experts, and the whole of our workforce”.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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