5 Key Insights from the “Administrative Data for Social Impact in Canada” Report

(Jennifer Looi) #1

I recently came across this report by Powered by Data, discussing their work and lessons learned so far in convening funders, nonprofits, and advocacy groups to talk about administrative data. Here were my key insights:

  1. Administrative data, i.e. data already collected by the government for operational purposes such as health records, wage records, etc. could support the work of non-profits in the following ways: outcomes evaluation (less need for follow-up surveys!), program planning, research and advocacy, and integrated service delivery.
  2. There are risks to administrative data sharing and re-use since it would involve using data beyond the purposes for which it was originally collected. Some key areas of concern are around consent and privacy, reducing non-profit autonomy, and amplifying inequity (since this data may reflect biases of the systems they are collected in).
  3. Although initiatives to reuse administrative data are occurring at the federal and provincial level, there is still a significant amount of capacity building needed for non-profits to meaningfully engage with administrative data, even if it is made accessible.
  4. Respecting and integrating Indigenous perspectives and OCAP principles should be a key priority. One example of how this is being done comes from Nova Scotia, in which the Nova Scotia First Nations Linkage Registry has been designed to help First Nations better monitor health outcomes in their communities and address inequity. It was designed to work under both the provincial privacy legislation as well as OCAP principles.
  5. This work takes a village: they are still looking to connect with policy experts/government, data sharing practitioners, and members of civil society (e.g. funders, nonprofits, advocacy groups, members of the general public), so reach out to them if this is of interest to you!

I thought there were a lot of really interesting concrete examples of organizations already engaging with administrative data as well. If you’ve read the report and have additional insights, please feel free to share here.

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