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NSW Government Open Data Policy

The objectives of this policy are to assist NSW Government agencies to:

  • release data for use by the community, research, business and industry
  • embed open data into business-as-usual
  • use data to inform the design of policy, programs and procurement
  • advance citizen engagement with government
  • support the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act) and promote compliance with its requirements. 

Open data principles

What is open data?

The NSW Government Open Data Policy focuses on datasets as an aspect of information defined in the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act).

A dataset is an identifiable collection of government-held information or data. Most commonly a dataset refers to a single database table, a single statistical data matrix, a collection of closely related tables or a subset of data within a larger dataset.

Data is open to the extent that its management, release and characteristics meet the principles of openness outlined in this policy. Open data should be both technically available and usable, and have licensing frameworks in place to facilitate its release and use. 

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all NSW Government agencies including cluster agencies, Departments, Statutory Bodies and Shared Service Providers. In accordance with Premier’s Memorandum M1999-19 Applicability of Memoranda and Circulars to State Owned Corporations, the Policy is not mandatory for State Owned Corporations, although it is recommended for adoption. NSW Government funded research data must also be made open under this policy. 

Vision for open data

The NSW Government Open Data Policy supports the NSW Government’s vision for better, faster and more open data.

NSW Open Data Advocate

The Information Commissioner is the NSW Open Data Advocate. The Commissioner promotes awareness of the GIPA Act, which aims to open government information to the public, including authorising and encouraging the proactive public release of information by agencies. The Open Data Advocate plays a key role in ensuring that the NSW Government Open Data Policy is successfully implemented. The role of Open Data Advocate provides assistance to citizens making a request to access information, and provides advice to agencies to streamline processes for data release.

The Information Commissioner may investigate and report on compliance with the GIPA Act, and can investigate complaints made about an agency’s conduct in carrying out its functions. This independent regulatory oversight role promotes accountability and public confidence in the release and management of data by government sector agencies.
The Information Commissioner oversees the transparency obligations of agencies in the GIPA Act, including that:

  • agencies must make information publicly available as open access information under Part 3 Division 1 of the GIPA Act
  • disclosure logs where agencies must record information that has been requested formally and which the agency decides may be of interest to other members of the public (Part 3 Division 4).

The obligations of agencies are outlined in Part 3 Division 2 Agency Information Guides.

Open Data Principles

Open data principles lead to a more responsive government, and better service delivery. To meet the obligations of this policy, agencies must manage data as a strategic asset to be: 

  1. Open by default, protected where required
  2. Prioritised, discoverable and usable
  3. Primary and timely
  4. Well managed, trusted and authoritative
  5. Free where appropriate
  6. Subject to public input.

Agency Responsibilities

1. Open by default and protected where required

Agencies will start from a position of data openness, favouring the release of data, unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure (Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act).

Agency responsibilities include complying with NSW Government policies for information security (e.g., NSW Cyber Security Policy); applying information labels and security classifications which indicate whether data is protected, in line with the NSW Government Information Classification, Labelling and Handling Guidelines; and ensuring safeguards are in place to manage and assess the release of sensitive datasets.

2. Prioritised, discoverable and usable

High-value datasets will be prioritised for release, in line with demand from the public and industry, as a result of stakeholder consultation, or where the release of the datasets will contribute to better service delivery in NSW. 

Agency responsibilities include prioritising the release of datasets in response to public requests; linking datasets to Data.NSW Open Data Portal for discoverability and availability; and publishing metadata with all dataset; assessing data quality with the Data Quality Standard.

3. Primary and timely

Data will be released as collected at the source, with a high level of granularity, and not in aggregate or modified forms unless required to safeguard confidential or personal data. Reuse will acknowledge the source and include the metadata.

Agency responsibilities include implementing mechanisms that enable automated, ongoing or periodic release of data; and publishing real-time feeds where it enhances the utility of the dataset.

4. Well managed, trusted and authoritative

Users will be alerted to the quality and limitations of the data to ensure confidence that it is trustworthy and authoritative.

Data governance arrangements will be established and maintained in accordance with NSW Government’s information management principles and the Data and Information Custodianship Policy.

Agency responsibilities include managing data in accordance with legislative and legal requirements, including those for data security and protection of personal information; and applying sound archival practices to preserve data.

5. Access to open data will be free by default

The widespread use of data for innovation will be encouraged in order to achieve the maximum value from the data for the people of NSW, and to enhance transparency of government.

Agency responsibilities include providing data free of charge, establishing standard parameters for cost recovery and publishing any fees for data use.

6. Subject to public input

Agencies will engage with the community, research sector and industry on the design of new datasets and data portals, and in deciding what data to publish and about publication practices.

Agency responsibilities include providing data that is relevant to the transaction being undertaken or service being used, participating in activities across jurisdictions to share and integrate data at the national level, and publishing community and industry feedback about the data.

Further information


Last updated 11 Jul 2024