Big data to deliver NZ Budget shake-up

New Zealand's Minister of Finance says open data and Big Data analytics will reshape the way government produces its annual Budget.

New Zealand's finance minister, Bill English, is forecasting dramatic shifts in the way government does business as a result of open data and big data analytics, including a once in fifty year change in the way the government produces its Budget.

Speaking at a New Zealand Data Futures Forum breakfast in Auckland this morning, English said there was very little information held by government agencies that should not be made public.

Bill English

In the past, government agencies have been defined in part by the information they control. However, once such data is public it will no longer be controlled by bodies standing between the Government and citizens, he said. It will be open for analysis by anyone.

That and changes to the way government defines and measures its goals and achievements will deliver changes to the Budget process if the current Government is reelected, he said.

English said the Government has delivered a Results Framework, quantifiable goals for "Better Public Services". Open and big data will help government to measure achievement towards those goals.

English described the delivery of social services in the past as a "passive industrial model". Nobody really understood which programmes succeeded and which didn't.

Government is now moving towards more individualised service that will deliver an "individalised understanding of  what each person needs and what reciprocity is expected".

"Agencies need to know about their customers," he told the largely private sector audience. "You need to know because it drives revenue. We need to know because it drives costs.

The school system was cited as one example of a data rich environment, where performance from early childhood education into the workforce would soon be measurable.

English said a rewrite of privacy laws in New Zealand had removed barriers to "common sense" solutions. However, issues such as the "Right to be forgotten" now arising in the European Union and elsewhere could translate into political pressure to change the rules again.