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Data Standards Authority publishes guidance on government data sharing

The Data Standards Authority (DSA) wants government departments to use new open data standards when sharing data, with the aim of improving public services

The Data Standards Authority (DSA) has published new metadata standards for government, along with a guidance document on how to use them.

The aim of the new data standards is to encourage departments to share data to improve public services, while ensuring common standards across government that follow data protection rules and the data ethics framework.

The guidance and standards set out to create a consistent way to record and share data in and across government departments. They are focused on data shared “privately between departments, as well as open data published on Gov.uk and other public sector websites”, as well as including best practice for sharing CSV files, which convert spreadsheet data to other formats.

The DSA, which is a cross-government authority led by the Government Digital Service (GDS), is responsible for driving data standards across government to improve data quality and sharing.

The guidance tells departments to ensure the data is used appropriately, and puts emphasis on the benefits of sharing data.

“For protected data such as personal, sensitive or commercial data, you should record information that will help users of the data understand its terms and conditions, the guidance said.

It also tells departments how to make metadata machine readable and accessible, and how to make your data searchable and easier to validate.

GDS director general, Alison Pritchard, said she was “delighted” by the launch of the metadata standards.

“They’re the first step in assuring how data is shared across government. Standards are critical in allowing us to make sure our information is better managed,” she said.

“They will improve the quality of government data and help us deliver the best possible services to citizens.”

The DSA is also advised by a steering board made up by representatives from several departments, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Home Office, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

ONS deputy national statistician Frankie Kay said the work of the DSA “allows the government to further capitalise on the benefits of data to improve our services”.

“Through participation on the Steering Board, ONS is able to ensure alignment with wider data initiatives and implement data standards in line with our priorities,” she said.

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