The integrating authority is the single organisation responsible for the sound conduct of the project. It is responsible for the implementation of the data integration project and the management of the integrated datasets throughout their life cycle, ensuring full compliance with commitments made as part of the project approval, and in line with the Governance and Institutional Arrangements. The integrating authority is also responsible for providing data users with safe and secure access to the integrated data in line with the requirements of data custodians.
To comply with Principle 3 in the High Level Principles, an integrating authority is to be appointed for each statistical data integration project that involves Commonwealth data. To appoint an integrating authority, the data custodians should consider the following requirements:
- The data custodian must ensure they are authorised to release identifiable data to the integrating authority, either by the data custodian’s legislation or by consent from the data provider (that is, the individual or organisation who originally supplied the data for statistical or research purposes).
- According to the Governance and Institutional Arrangements, the integrating authority must be in a position to comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act 1988 (in regards to information about individuals) and secrecy provisions generally (in regards to information with respect to the affairs of any third party, corporate or individual). During the initial implementation of the arrangements, the role of the integrating authority is restricted to Commonwealth government agencies.
- The integrating authority should be a secure and trusted institution. According to High Level Principle 6 - Preserving Privacy and Confidentiality, access to potentially identifiable data for statistical and research purposes outside secure and trusted institutions should only occur where: legislation allows; it is necessary to achieve the approved purposes; and meets agreements with source data agencies. During the initial implementation of the arrangements, the role of the integrating authority is restricted to Commonwealth government agencies.
In addition, if the project is rated as high risk the integrating authority is required to be accredited to align with the governance arrangements agreed by Portfolio Secretaries. For low and medium risk projects the integrating authority should have an appropriate policy framework in place to provide support to ensure that no identifiable data is disclosed, other than where allowed by law (see Legal and policy framework for Integrating Authorities undertaking low and medium risk projects).
The integrating authority has an important role in managing the increased risk of identification that exists when two or more datasets are integrated. Generally an integrating authority will be chosen because they have expertise to manage the confidentiality of the integrated dataset and capability for maintaining security.
It is possible that the integrating authority will also be the data custodian.
Assess project feasibility
The nominated integrating authority should review all the details that have been provided by the data user and the data custodians about the project. This process will ensure that the integrating authority agrees with and can deliver on all aspects of the project, such as linking methods, access to the integrated data, data security, timeframes, data quality, risk management etc.
The integrating authority will assess the technical feasibility of the project, including any complexities arising from the process of linking multiple datasets, and provide advice on such matters. For example, the integrating authority may advise data users of issues such as coding difficulties, missing variables and/or inaccurate records. It is expected that the integrating authority will consult with the data custodians and data users while assessing the feasibility of the project and negotiate any modifications to the project specification needed to address issues that emerge.
If the project is assessed as feasible, the integrating authority will need to finalise the details of the project with the data custodians and the data users.
For more information about the project application and approval process see:
- Project proposal
- In principle approval
- Appoint an integrating authority
- Finalise project details
- Final approval