Polish researchers tap administrative data for better policymaking

Government bodies should explore ways to use anonymised administrative data to increase the effectiveness of policymaking, a group of officials and academic experts said at a seminar organised by Poland’s Institute for Structural Research (IBS).

As part of the “Youth employment partnerSHIP” project, the IBS organized a seminar in Warsaw on the use of data on 4 October. The project seeks to increase employment of young people, so called NEETs (not in employment, education or training) in Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain.

Poland’s government has hundreds of data sets, but they’re poorly integrated and thus only rarely used; better management of this resource could help replace surveys, which cost more and are often less reliable, conference participants from academia and government said. The Ministry of Digital Affairs and other public bodies are working on the Integrated Analytical Platform, which will centralize and standardize data held by the public administration.

“Advanced data analytics is all the rage in business, and now it’s time for public institutions to realize they’re also sitting on a gold mine,” said IBS Vice President Iga Magda, lead researcher for the youth employment project. “If you’re going to offer your citizens services that match their actual needs, you need to leverage the knowledge that’s available in these data sets.”

Speakers at the seminar provided several concrete examples of how data can help improve decision-making and evaluation of policies:

* Agnieszka Chłoń-Domińczak of the Warsaw School of Economics and the National Information Processing Institute described the Integrated Analytical Platform project, which is building a set of legal, technical and organisational solutions to make data from public administration available to researchers while ensuring proper data protection. Chłoń-Domińczak also demonstrated a practical use of administrative data in the Economic Outcomes for Graduates (ELA) programme, which combines data from institutions of higher education with those of Poland’s ZUS social welfare fund, allowing accurate, low-cost monitoring of where a university’s graduates end up.

* Marta Palczyńska of the IBS and Tomasz Gajderowicz from the University of Warsaw presented their experience in using data from unemployment registries to evaluate the effectiveness of active labour market policies in employment offices.

* Michał Myck of the Centre for Economic Analysis gave a comparative analysis of surveys versus administrative data in evaluating tax and benefit policies.

* Paweł Chrostek of the Finance Ministry discussed the advantages of using combined data from the tax and social insurance registries to assess social and economic policy.

Other institutions represented at the seminar included the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Development.

“Poland needs to adopt best practices from other countries and start making decisions based on accurate analysis of data, which will help cut the number of poorly targeted rules and programmes, reducing costs to the budget,” said Magda.

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