Digital council sets new API agenda

James Riley
Editorial Director

The Australian Data and Digital Council had agreed to national API standards to enable all levels of government – as well as outside third-party organisations – to more easily and securely share, enhance and re-use data in real time.

The ADDC was formally elevated to become a full Council of Australian Governments (COAG) council in August. Meeting at the Sydney Startup Hub in Sydney on Friday, digital and data ministers from governments across the country said the national API design standards would create consistency between governments and promote interoperability between jurisdictions.

The governments say the API standards will let them deliver services more efficiently, and where its needed to have these services that work well across different jurisdictions.

Sydney Startup Hub
The Data and Digital Council met at the Sydney Startup Hub

For citizens, this data sharing between governments had the potential to delivery better services, the ministers said in a communique. The national API standards have been developed and maintained as a low-profile joint initiative between the Digital Transformation Agency and Standard Business Reporting.

While the council of ministers at its last two meetings has discussed the need to build community trust in data and digital initiatives, it has not been any more specific about what is being done to achieve this other than to say its ‘important’.

While various of the governments have been working to remove regulatory impediments to data sharing, it has been done largely in the background. There has yet to be a national discussion about the manner in which government data is used, how it is managed, or even where it gets stored in relation to data sovereignty issues.

While the minister’s acknowledge that “building public trust requires meaningful engagement and honest dialogue with the public about their expectations, needs and concerns,” this has not happened.

“Governments need to consider privacy, security, transparency and ethics in conducting data and digital activities, underpinned by strong governance arrangements,” the ministers said,

The council, which is chaired by the federal Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert, also noted the progress on its Birth of a Child life event pilot program that is being led by the ACT government, and which follows a pilot already completed three years ago by the former Digital Transformation Office and the Queensland government on streamlining Medicare enrolments.

The Birth of a Child pilot will design, implement and test a process to automate newborn birth registration, enrolments in Medicare and accessing Centrelink payment services, in the Australian Capital Territory and parts of Queensland.

“The findings from the pilot will inform a national roll-out to improve parents’ engagement with government during the life event of having a baby. This will also include exploring the construct for a national digital birth certificate,” the minister’s said.

The ADDC also heard updates on a pilot e-invoicing program that the Commonwealth and NSW were conducting with industry and based on the Pan-European Public Procurement Online Standard (PEPPOL), reporting good efficiencies for government and businesses in the results so far.

It also heard got an update on a data sharing program commenced in September between WA and the Commonwealth project to explore linkage of Commonwealth pharmaceuticals data with Western Australia’s data on children born with birth defects, to generate new insights into the potential effects of prescription medication taken by mothers while pregnant.

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