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Access to open government data in Australia is economically important, as confirmed by multiple theoretical and empirical studies, with varying estimates of its net positive benefit. Some of these benefits include new data-driven products and services, increased operational efficiency in both the public and private sectors, and improved engagement from the public. Key industry players such as Google, Microsoft and Intel have made significant investments in making government data more accessible. Governments across the world, from the United States to India, are running open government data initiatives.

This report examines, through a critical literature review, the economic nature of government data and its contribution to the economy and society, the methodologies and assumptions used in measuring its economic benefits, and the range of quantitative estimates of its value in Australia and internationally. Fresh industry insights from Google, Sirca and Lateral Economics (Dr Nicholas Gruen) were obtained to ensure that this report’s findings will have currency with consumers and the business community.

Raw data collected in the course of usual government operations exhibits strong public good characteristics—it is non-rivalrous (use by one party does not reduce its availability to others) and non-excludable (once available to one party, others cannot be readily excluded from using it). This provides a strong rationale for governments to take a default position of making government data more accessible.

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