The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, TD and Minister of State, Ossian Smyth, TD are pleased to announce that the remaining sections of the Data Sharing and Governance Act 2019 have been commenced with the exception of subsections (2), (3) of s.6. The Order, with a commencement date of the 7th July, also sets a commencement date of March 31st 2022 for subsections (2) and (3) of s.6.
This commencement allows for establishment of the Data Governance Board and the introduction of a comprehensive new Data Sharing and Governance Framework for the Public Service. This represents a significant development in the Government’s drive to provide transparency on the efficient use of citizen data to deliver public services.
Minister McGrath said that:
This enabling piece of legislation will allow us to be more progressive in how we use the data that we have. It will deliver more positive outcomes for our public services, our businesses and our citizens; whilst allowing us to remain fully aligned to GDPR and protection of data privacy. Data sharing will bring significant benefits in the efficient delivery of public services.
The Data Governance Board will ensure that citizens’ data is managed in a way that assures individuals that their personal data is treated with respect, only shared where necessary and in accordance with law.
Minister Smyth said that:
“Effective and efficient management of data is vitally important in the provision of quality Government Services and the development of meaningful evidence based policies. We now have the opportunity to shape the landscape of how personal data is shared across all Public Service Bodies.
This will ultimately improve the gap between policy making and operational delivery. It gives us the opportunity to use citizens’ data to be better at planning new services, creating new policies and responding more quickly to emerging trends.
The Board and the Framework will provide a statutory basis on which public bodies can share personal data in the context of providing public services and will ensure the safe and transparent handling of that data.
The Board will work with the Minister to implement the new Data Sharing Framework and to promote and report on public service bodies’ compliance with the new standards and guidelines. This Board has deliberately been constituted to bring diversity of thought, significant experience, leadership and skills to create something bigger than the sum of its parts and this can make a positive change across the Public Service.
The Board will have members from the public and private sectors, with expertise in the areas of Data Protection and Ethics, Legal, Research & Analytics, National Data infrastructure, Technical Architecture and Citizen Advocacy.
This is the latest in a series of measures, including the Public Service Data Catalogue and Digital Postbox that Government are introducing through the Public Service Data Strategy; with the aim of providing a more joined-up, efficient and transparent digital public service. Commencement of the Act and establishment of the Data Governance Board comes at an important time. This development will assist with delivery of ongoing pan-Government data sharing and new data sharing initiatives including those deriving from the forthcoming EU Data Governance Act.