How forward-looking data governance enables the reuse of data

“Open government data” is just the beginning. The end-to-end digitalisation of the public sector requires solid data governance with clear roles thataredesigned for the reuse of data

Various federal, cantonal and municipal authorities are already publishing open government data (OGD). The media, companies and other interested parties can use the data freely, for example to publish data visualisations or programme an innovative app. For the Federal Administration the release of OGD will soon be mandatory. This is the intention of the new “Federal Act on the Use of Electronic Means for the Fulfilment of Official Duties” (EMBAG), which comes into force in 2024 – with a three-year transition period for OGD. All federal agencies are to publish their data “free of charge, promptly, in machine-readable form and in an open format”. Format”. This excludes personal data, data relating to legal entities and data for which there is a legitimate interest in protection or the processing of which involves a high level of effort

Data co-operations: For multiple use of data

Private actors can also publish their data as “open data”. Various forms of data cooperation are also available for the exchange of sensitive data in particular, e.g. between private companies and the public administration. The legal, organisational and technical framework that the players use for the joint use of data is referred to as a “data space”. In Switzerland, for example, a common data space is planned for the mobility sector, the so-called “National Mobility Data Networking Infrastructure” (NADIM)

The Federal Office of Justice is also working on a new framework law for the secondary use of data, which should further pave the way for data reuse in Switzerland. In the EU, the Data Governance Act, which creates a legal basis for data exchange, came into force in 2023. The next step will be the Data Act, which will define usage and access rights in the EU. For example, the draft law stipulates that private individuals have access to all data that tech providers have collected about them

Data governance: a clear allocation of roles in the administration

In the public sector, data governance – sensibly structured data management – is a key prerequisite for OGD and data cooperation. The tasks start at various points in the data life cycle (collecting, aggregating, sharing, analysing, using) and can be captured in the following roles defined by the Federal Statistical Office: Data owners decide on the content and purpose of a data collection. They commission this and are responsible for it. Data stewards (data administrators) are responsible for the technical aspects of data maintenance. They coordinate the work to standardise and harmonise the data collections. Data custodians are responsible for technical tasks such as database maintenance

Data consumers (data users) retrieve and process data

Our recommendations

  1. Create a data inventory: To handle data effectively, authorities need an overview of their data.
  2. Develop data governance: Assigning roles clarifies the tasks of the various stakeholders across different stages of the data lifecycle.
  3. Practising open government data: Publishing data helps to increase the potential use of data and build internal expertise in data management.

More information

Contact options and further information on data governance and open government data

This article is part of the publication series “Public Sector Perspectives“.

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AUTHOR: Jonas Bärtschi

Jonas Bärtschi is a research associate at the Institute Public Sector Transformation. He is the managing director of the Swiss Data Alliance.

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