The re-use of administrative data for social research holds great potential. From a privacy perspective, administrative data present some additional challenges, including lack of consent, existence of matching databases, and the association with data breaches by administrative staff.
Access to government data for research is currently undergoing a slow, small but significant transformation from the defensive strategies of the past. A key driver of this is attitudinal change; the new approach is characterised as evidence-based default-open, risk-managed, user-centred decision-making, and offers more security at lower cost with greater researcher value.
Despite its apparent superiority, this approach is still a minority position. It fundamentally challenges the way decisions are made in the public sector, at an individual and institutional level, as well as making risks more explicit. The effective re-use of administrative data may then depend upon the degree to which attitudes to decision-making in the public sector can be changed.
Ritchie, F. (2016). Can a change in attitudes improve effective access to administrative data for research?