The Challenge 

The Information and Data Policy team took on the challenge of applying new agile policy development techniques to reforming NSW data strategies and policies for more than three weeks in October and November last year, in conjunction with the newly established Policy Lab.  

The Outcome 

By the end of the final session on 28 November, we had produced a first draft NSW data strategy, a roadmap for action, more than 30 suggestions for prototypes and three actionable models to display and develop further. Working alongside us, a second team developed an approach to ‘legislation as code’, and a working model of what a NSW Policy Lab might look like. 

The Journey  

The process was at times challenging and at others uplifting, mind expanding and a great team-bonding exercise. We were asked to leave behind linear policy development processes, challenge our assumptions and biases, and to actively seek out stakeholder pain points within their, and our, current data environment.  

The range of activities and tools to stimulate thinking and consider different perspectives left us scrambling to digest our learnings and how to apply them to the range of issues we uncovered. These issues ranged from standards, governance, community, and communication, to roles and responsibilities, technology, policy and legislation. 

We spoke to senior decision makers and data experts from a broad range of interested stakeholder groups, capturing feedback from NSW, Commonwealth and local government agencies, industry and industry association. 

The Insights 

We listened closely to our stakeholders and gained great insight into the complex web of issues that stand in the way of greater use of open and shared data in the NSW public sector. We are examining our role as a whole-of-government service provider and are working closely with our colleagues in the Policy Lab to continue to refine our policy development and data practice roles within NSW. We presented our Policy Lab journey at a showcase on 12 December 2018 and are continuing the sprint approach through 2019. 

There are clear demands for leadership, governance, standards, tools and guidelines, and assistance with data skills and culture that we will address over the coming year. We will be presenting and reviewing prototypes of our work to rapidly and iteratively gain feedback and refine the prototypes. What we know is that one size won’t fit all, so we are going to have to work with many stakeholders in incremental ways to make big changes.  

The Prototypes 

The first set of prototypes for comment are: 

  • NSW data strategy – what broad strategic directions do we need to be working towards? 

  • Data standards workshop concept – would you be interested in this workshop as a participant? Do you have a suggestion for another data-related workshop? 

  • Data sharing risk assessment tool – does this Five Safes-based model help you to make data sharing decisions? 

  • Shared data terms of access – is this tool sufficient to capture the shared data requirements relating to your data? 

These are rapidly developed examples of potential products for further development in 2019. They are not the final products and we’d love your feedback.  

To suggest an idea for further development, or if you’d like to work with us to help NSW Government make better decisions, please comment below or send an email to  

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