About the Commonwealth arrangements

The high level principles and supporting governance arrangements were developed in recognition of two key issues:

  • the significant enhancement to the evidence base for research and evaluation that can be achieved through the integration of existing Commonwealth data for statistical and research purposes; and
  • the need to protect the personal information of individuals, as set out in the Privacy Act 1988, and the confidentiality of data provided by individual businesses.

The purpose of the governance and institutional arrangements is to help ensure the systemic risk to the public trust in government use of data associated with high risk data integration projects is managed adequately and in a consistent way. They set out a common framework for statistical data integration involving Commonwealth data to take place in a safe and effective environment.

The High Level Principles and the governance and institutional framework that supports them are endorsed by the Portfolio Secretaries. The arrangements are an administrative scheme and the authority for them is vested in the agreement between agencies to participate in the arrangements, as agreed by the Portfolio Secretaries.

These arrangements apply to projects undertaken for statistical and research purposes only. Projects undertaken for non-statistical purposes, such as compliance monitoring, regulatory purposes or service delivery to individuals, are not covered by these arrangements as these projects have different processes and legislation governing them.

For more information about when these arrangements apply, see Scope of the Commonwealth Arrangements.

The Commonwealth arrangements aim to:

  • Maximise the use of existing resources by providing greater access to rich data sources held by the government.
  • Protect privacy and confidentiality through greater accountability for data integration and safeguards for the protection of confidential information.
  • Provide for increased transparency through a public register of data integration projects involving Commonwealth data for statistical and research purposes.
  • Ensure that projects are only undertaken where they are expected to deliver overall benefit to the public which outweighs the privacy imposition and risks to confidentiality.

These objectives are embedded in the seven High Level Principles for data integration involving Commonwealth data and this guide gives effect to the High Level Principles.

The Commonwealth High Level Principles and governance arrangements introduce three elements unique to the Commonwealth arrangements that are considered fundamental to achieving an effective and safe environment for data integration projects involving Commonwealth data:

  • appointment of an integrating authority, responsible for the management of the integration project and the integrated dataset;
  • use of an accredited Integrating Authority for projects assessed as having a high systemic risk; and
  • registration of each project (or family of projects [1. Data integration projects using the same source datasets, for similar purposes, with the same integrating authority, are referred to as a family of projects.] ) on the Public Register of Data Integration Projects to ensure transparency.

Further background information and an overview of the arrangements for Data Integration Involving Commonwealth Data for Statistical and Research Purposes (the Commonwealth arrangements) is provided on the following pages: