Administrative Data Policy Coalition

Administrative Data Policy Coalition

Since 2018, ONN has been part of a network of organizations (advocacy groups, service providers, and funders) convened by Powered by Data to build a civil society coalition to develop a shared agenda for nonprofits’ access to and use of government-held administrative data, including for purposes related to policy advocacy, integrated services, research, and impact evaluation.

Administrative data are operational records that governments and service providers keep on the people they serve. Examples of administrative data could include: physician visit records, high school completion records, birth and death records, and tax returns.

Currently, nonprofits do not have access to much of the data that they need to plan and deliver evidence-based programs, evaluate and demonstrate the impact of their programs, and identify/address systemic issues affecting their communities.

Administrative data can provide rich information about communities and the services or programs they use, which could be harnessed by the nonprofit sector toward better community outcomes.

Research and engagement

PBD conducted through 2018, showed a clear interest in moving this agenda forward: to increase access, use, and sharing of administrative data for social benefit, while also preventing and/or stopping misuse and harm through collection and use of admin data.

The Data Policy Coalition formally launched on June 18, 2019, bringing together diverse stakeholder groups (advocacy groups, service providers, and funders) for the first time.
The meeting focused on establishing common ground and developing guiding principles and an interim governance structure to support the coalition in moving to action in this first year. Governance will be revisited in one year’s time as the coalition’s priorities and work evolve.

We are now in the process of confirming coalition membership and establishing a Steering Committee.

Initial objectives in this first year are to:

  • Develop a data policy agenda to pursue effective, ethical, and responsible rights-based administrative data sharing within the social sector and/or specific domains of the sector
  • Explore projects to demonstrate the value and benefits of sharing administrative data while preventing harm through misuse and misrepresentation
    Ontario Data Strategy

The Administrative Data Policy Coalition work is particularly timely because the Ontario Government is consulting on Ontario’s Data Strategy. There are major changes coming to privacy legislation such as the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act (FIPPA), which was amended as part of the Ontario Budget implementation bill (read our summary of Bill 100 here). “Data integration units” will be created to allow for administrative data sharing between ministries and programs. At the government consultations, ONN will highlight important privacy and data considerations for the nonprofit sector and our communities, and we hope to learn more about the government’s plans for these data integration units and the role that nonprofits can play in data-sharing arrangements. You can sign up for Ontario Data Strategy updates here. Contact liz@theonn.ca to learn more about the coalition.