Minister Howlin launches Public Consultation on Public Service Data-Sharing and Governance

Issued 1 August 2014

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, T.D., today called for the public and interested parties to make submissions to him on the important issue of data-sharing between public service bodies.

The Minister is today (1 August 2015) launching a public consultation process on data-sharing and governance; responses are sought to a policy and consultation paper, available at www.per.gov.ie/datasharing.  This consultation process follows a Government decision in September 2013 to initiate the preparation of a Data-Sharing and Governance Bill. The Data Sharing and Governance Bill will address sharing of personal information between public service bodies in Ireland.

Minister Howlin said

“Effective data-sharing arrangements between public bodies are essential to the provision of quality public services, and to the delivery of key public service reforms. I am initiating this public consultative process to help ensure that the proposed data sharing legislation meets the ambitious objectives Government have set for it, while ensuring that information is shared securely and proportionately with proper regard to data protection principles and privacy”

The policy paper seeks views on the legislative reforms under consideration. It is proposed that data-sharing will be permitted when it is for a purpose identified in the Data Sharing and Governance Bill. Data-sharing will require specific governance and transparency provisions, and will be subject to the Data Protection Act 1988. 

Submissions on the policy paper or the Bill, or on other aspects of data-sharing can be submitted by email to datasharing@per.gov.ie until the 15th September 2014. Submissions will be published on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform website at www.per.gov.ie/data-sharing

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Note for Editors

Background

The Data-Sharing and Governance Bill is one of a number of targeted reforms on the issue of Data-Sharing agreed by Government in September 2013 – please see previous press release at http://www.per.gov.ie/government-agrees-measures-to-improve-data-sharing-in-the-public-service/ for further details.

Objectives of the Data Sharing and Governance Bill

The objectives of the Data Sharing and Governance Bill are to streamline the flow of data between public bodies so as to support better service delivery, while ensuring that proper governance measures are applied by public service bodies when sharing data.

Who will be entitled to share information?

The Bill will define and regulate lawful data-sharing between public service bodies. It will address data-sharing on a national level, and will not provide for sharing of data between the public service and the private sector, or internationally.

Data Protection Law and Principles

The Data-Sharing and Governance Bill will be drafted on the basis that sharing of personal data between public service bodies will continue to be subject to the Data Protection Act. 

It is intended that the Data Sharing and Governance Bill will complement the provisions of the Data Protection Act, and in particular it will reinforce data protection principles such as demonstrable purpose, transparency, and legal basis.

Benefits for Service Users

For citizens and businesses, data-sharing between public bodies means that they need not provide the same information multiple times to different bodies. The implementation of an “ask-once, use-many” vision will help to significantly reduce the administrative burden on citizens and businesses, and allow them to avail of more seamless cross-sectoral services. 

Benefits for Public Bodies

For public bodies, data-sharing provides efficiency gains and cost savings by reducing manual document-checking, facilitating evidence based policy making, and supporting the elimination of fraud and error.

Next steps in the development of the Bill

Following this consultation phase the Department will prepare a draft General Scheme of the Data-Sharing and Governance Bill, which will be submitted to Government for approval to commence drafting of the Bill.