COVID-19 lessons learnt and recommendations

Cross-posted from

Open Data Charter
Mar 27 · 3 min read
Photo by visuals on Unsplash

The six recommendations proposed to improve the resilience of the government data system. These recommendations are based on the experiences and lessons learnt of government agencies and international organisations during the pandemic. You can find more detail in the full report published on

COVID-19 lessons learnt — full report [HTML]
COVID-19 lessons learnt — full report [PDF 772 KB]

What are the recommendations?

The following six recommendations are proposed to improve the resilience of New Zealand’s government data system:

  1. Develop and implement an action plan to improve the findability, access to, and sharing of the most important data.
  2. Identify the most important data needed to assess impacts, inform interventions and critical decisions, and measure progress, at both a national and community or subnational level. Develop a plan to fill identified data gaps.
  3. Provide collaboration tools and processes to support communication and collaboration between agencies.
  4. Clarify the responsibilities, scope and decision-making powers of data governance roles and groups, including any emergency powers that leadership roles (such as the Government Chief Data Steward) need in a crisis. Resolve identified duplications, ambiguities, or gaps.
  5. Establish and foster expertise-based networks to build relationships, share expertise and resources, and advocate good practice.
  6. Help data users find and navigate relevant privacy, security and ethical considerations and settings when sourcing and using data.

In the full report, linked above, you can learn more about the research completed, the identified issues and needs of the government data system, and the recommendations to address them.

Where did the recommendations come from?

The pandemic significantly disrupted Aotearoa New Zealand and affected the government’s data system. Following the national lockdown, the Government Chief Data Steward saw an opportunity to learn from the experiences of government agencies, including both their challenges and successes, with the aim of increasing the government’s data resilience.

As a result, Stats NZ was commissioned to capture lessons learnt and use them to develop a set of recommendations for improving government data system resilience. It documented the experiences of a range of New Zealand government agencies and international organisations during the pandemic, and synthesised and analysed the results, identifying four high-level data themes in the process:

  1. Data adequacy
  2. Accessibility, interoperability and infrastructure
  3. Coordination, decision-making and governance
  4. Literacy, capability and capacity.

Organised in this way, the learnings collected from agencies helped identify a number of potential interventions to increase resilience across the government data system. A set of recommendations was selected from the list of interventions as particularly impactful, likely to achieve significant improvements in resilience, and effective in helping agencies focus their efforts.

What happens next?

The next step is to develop a proposal with options for implementing the recommendations. Implementation will involve investments in data and data infrastructure by agencies across the government data system, along with an agreed decision-making process to guide those investments.

The GCDS will lead the implementation, in collaboration with government agencies, Treaty partners, other system leadership roles, and key stakeholders.

Originally posted on the website.

In a collaboration on high-value open data in a pandemic, the Open Data Charter and the OECD made a call to action for governments around the world to connect with their communities and find out the needs they have for data during this time of pandemic. We published guidance to help with organising open data meetups along with a framework to guide small breakout group discussions to capture people’s insights and needs. New Zealand along with other cities have hosted their own meetups and insights from these have all been published on our blog.

We have since expanded our COVID-related work, covering policy recommendations as well as a new data taxonomy.


Towards a culture of open and responsible data use by governments and citizens.

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