The Home Office is to build a centralised platform it hopes will improve the quality and management of data across the department and its agencies.
Implementation of the system, dubbed the Augmented Data Catalogue, is intended to enable the Home Office to make good on the recommendations of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, published in March 2020.
The department has published a contract notice seeking a supplier to fulfil a £1.4m programme of work to “install, configure and maintain a… platform for governing and understanding Home Office group data”.
The data catalogue aims to “enable users to easily find, enrich and exploit the best data assets for the benefit of the Home Office family”. Once complete, the platform will serve as “the primary knowledge repository for evidence-based decision-making” across the central department and its arm’s-length bodies, which include UK Visas and Immigration, the Disclosure and Barring Service, and the Security Service – better known as MI5.
The need for the department to “invest in improving data quality, management information and performance measures which focus on results as well as throughput” was one of the recommendations made in the independent review of the 2018 Windrush scandal led by Wendy Williams HM Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.
“Leaders in the department should promote the best use of this data and improve the capability to anticipate, monitor and identify trends, as well as collate casework data which links performance data to parliamentary questions, complaints and other information, including feedback from external agencies, departments and the public – with the facility to escalate local issues,” her report said. “The Home Office should also invest in improving its knowledge management and record keeping.”
The new data platform will address this recommendation, the Home Office said, as well as enabling it to meet its obligations under the Data Protection act to keep adequate records of data-processing activities – issues with which were identified in “findings of an ICO audit report relating to our record of processing activities and other issues with our information asset register”.
Over the course of a two-year contract, the winning bidder for the implementation project will provide the department with “a range of data services for several directorates within the Home Office, all of which contribute to and consume our data and digital services”.
The contract notice indicated that a “proof of concept” exercise took place last summer, in which a potential department-wide system was modelled using software from data management specialist Informatica hosted across “two AWS environments”.
These explorations were “concluded successfully in August 2021, meeting all stakeholder requirements in terms of technical, functional and quality expectations… all security concerns have been resolved and the product set has been agreed for use within the Home Office”.
Bids for the work are open until 3 March, after which an estimated four potential suppliers will be evaluated. Implementation is then due to commence in late May.
Sam Trendall is editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where this story first appeared.