Comment Blog 21 November, 2023

Putting data to work in the public sector

Daljit Rehal
Chief Digital and Information Officer, HMRC

In the digital age, data is the currency of progress. It fuels innovation, drives decision-making, and underpins the success of businesses, organisations, and governments alike. The importance of data cannot be overstated, as it shapes our daily lives and paves the way for a more efficient and informed world.  

Data is being created every day at a colossal rate. 90 per cent of the world’s data was created in just the last couple of years and there is an expectation that this rate will keep on growing. And, as the data grows, it’s becoming more diverse and more distributed, as are the sources of the data: whether it’s from images, texts, smartphones, smart watches, call centres or elsewhere. How we manage and organise our data is more important than ever before.

Government holds huge amounts of data. In HMRC, as across all of government, we are harnessing the power of such information to enhance our decision making and improve our services.   

To give just a few examples:  

  • Data-Driven Decision Making: HMRC uses data analytics to inform tax policies and strategies. By analysing tax data and economic trends, we can develop policies that are fair, efficient, and responsive to changing economic conditions. 
  • Enhanced Public Services: HMRC's use of data extends to improving public services related to taxation. For instance, using data analytics to detect tax fraud and ensure compliance, thereby safeguarding government revenue and ensuring a fair tax system.  
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy: HMRC places a strong emphasis on data security and privacy. We deal with attempted cyberattacks every day and have robust measures in place to protect taxpayer information, ensuring it remains confidential and secure.  

Data-powered government is not a static concept but an evolving one. As technology advances, we need to continually refine our approach to data analytics and data-driven decision making. The future looks very exciting. AI is just one area that we have yet to fully explore, but it has so much to offer in terms of enhancing human innovation and efficiency.   

In conclusion, data-powered government represents a paradigm shift in how nations operate and how public services are delivered. By harnessing the power of data, governments and agencies can make more informed decisions, improve public services, and enhance transparency and accountability. In HMRC and across government, we are committed to making this happen.   

This article was published in Reform's brochure for the 'Future government: data-driven, citizen-centric' conference, which you can view here: Future government: data-driven, citizen-centric.