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Mandated data standards

This page describes mandated data standards, their importance, the current mandated standards, the topics proposed for future mandate, the process for selecting topics, who mandates them, and a glossary of key terms.

On this page

What are mandated data standards?

Data standards establish a common approach to the collection, management, and use of data. Mandated data standards must be used by Public Service Departments and Departmental Agencies when collecting, publishing, or sharing data on a particular topic.

The Government Chief Data Steward (GCDS) has the power to make standards mandatory. This does not mean that agencies must collect information on a mandated topic. It means that, if they collect, publish, or share information on a topic related to a mandated standard, they must use the standard.

Government Chief Data Steward

Why are they important?

Given the vast amounts of data that is collected across government every day, sometimes the same data is captured and recorded in different formats. Having consistent standards eliminates this problem, and allows government to more effectively share data, across existing privacy and security settings.

Consistent standards are important for effectively managing data and means the New Zealand data system can:

  • maximise the value of data
  • create a more complete view of data to inform government policy and investment decisions
  • enable more efficient information sharing between agencies (within existing privacy and security settings), saving both time and money.

Without mandated standards, any existing problems with data collection and information sharing across government will continue and get worse over time. 

What topics currently have a mandated standard?

Currently there are 4 mandated standards. These are:

  • date of birth
  • person name
  • street address
  • gender and sex.

For more information have a look at the Mandated standards register, and for help with implementing these standards, contact MandatedStandards@stats.govt.nz.

Mandated standards register

What topics will be mandated in future?

The current topics identified by the data system leaders in the Information Group (IG) to be mandated standards are:

  • ethnicity
  • iwi affiliation
  • Māori descent
  • Māori business.

Information Group

How are topics selected?

Topics are selected based on the needs of the data system. A list of topics is gathered from a variety of sources including:

  • priorities identified by Māori
  • discussions within the Data and digital standards community of practice
  • upcoming work in the data system 
  • other government and data system priorities.

The process for selecting and mandating data standards

Data and digital standards community of practice 

We welcome feedback from as wide a range of stakeholders as possible. Anyone can request being consulted before Stats NZ presents these topics to the Information Group (IG). The IG then choose the topics that would most benefit the government data system. 

If you would like to suggest topics to be considered in the mandating process, contact MandatedStandards@stats.govt.nz.

Who mandates them?

The authority to set mandated standards for use across government lies with the Government Chief Data Steward (GCDS). This power was established by a Cabinet paper in October 2018.

The Cabinet paper establishing authority

Glossary of key terms

Collect means to take any step to seek or obtain administrative and survey data from a range of institutions and people.

Data should be interpreted in its widest sense, that is, including information and free text responses.

Publish means to make data available to people outside your agency or organisation.

Share means to provide data to another agency, organisation, group, or individual.

Contact us

If you'd like more information, have a question, or want to provide feedback on this page, email MandatedStandards@stats.govt.nz.

Content last reviewed 14 February 2022. 

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