The much anticipated “Drummond Report” of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services was released on February 15, 2012. In broad terms, the Commission’s mandate was to find ways to make the Ontario government work better in light of the fiscal challenges facing Ontario.
Throughout the Drummond Report, the Commission recommended improvements in the collection of relevant data to imporve evidence-based policy development and program evaluation. From a data governance perspective, the following recommendations in the Drummond Report are noteworthy.
Linking Databases and Profiling for Tax Compliance Purposes. The Commission recommended linking more databases so as to detect and recover revenue from underground economic activity. In particular, the Commission recommended:
- legislative changes to enable data sharing (such as permits, licenses and registration information) and database matching across ministries, municipalities and government departments;
- creating a “wealth indicator” database, which might estimate the expenditures made by a taxpayer to maintain his or her lifestyle to identify potential tax fraud;
- expanding reporting requirements for certain financial transactions;
- a federal-provincial agreement to share information and co-ordinate compliance efforts in the underground economy;
Integrating Social Benefit Programs and Better Data Collection. The Commission recommended fully integrating social benefit systems to centralize income testing, payment delivery, automate income verification and standarized eligibility criteria. Along with this integration and centralization, the Commission recommended better data collection to evaluate the programs in the integrated benefits system while respecting and protecting personal information and privacy.
The Commissioners were careful to note that there must be consultation with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.