The Defence Department will reorganise and appoint a new data czar after finding much of the national security data it has been collecting is either useless or vulnerable as a consequence of being insecurely stored.
Assistant Defence Minister Andrew Hastie is set to announce a new whole-of-Defence data strategy on Wednesday in a video address to officials.
The strategy notes that the size of the department means coordinating data can be seen as "too hard and too complex", with a lack of trust between areas of the behemoth department and an unwillingness to share data with other areas.
The department has not kept pace with Australia's Five Eye allies on data or security standards to support greater cooperation, has low data literacy and capability among its workforce and lacks the ability to search data held across areas of the organisation.
Mr Hastie, who was appointed in December, has been driving the department to come up with a solution on the issue along with Katherine Jones, who will soon become the secretary of the Attorney General's Department and launches the strategy as one her last actions with Defence.
Defence needs effective use and management of data to be ready for future conflicts, Mr Hastie said.
"As our strategic environment degrades, we are also witnessing the exponential growth of data and its application in the digital battle space."
Cyber espionage and warfare were realities that Australia could not ignore, he said.
"So whether we like it or not, we are joined in an online contest to preserve our digital sovereignty as a country.
"Our warfighters - commanders and troops in the field, aircrew in the skies and sailors on the sea - all need access to fast and reliable data to successfully conduct operations."
A transformation strategy released last year by former defence minister Linda Reynolds pressed the department to recognise the criticality of data and adopt a disciplined approach to collection, storage, analysis and application in Defence's decision-making.
A challenge to building a sovereign Defence Industry for Australia has been the risk of cyber attacks on the data and intellectual property held in firms based in Australia.
But the department itself has not had a clean record with a database of Defence Force personnel details shut down for 10 days last year over fears it had been compromised and concerns a Sydney datacentre used by the department was bought out by firm linked to China.
The Defence executive will be restructured with a chief data integration officer and a "two star"-level board of senior data custodians.
The strategy aims to improve the evidence-base and speed of Defence decision-making, both in organising itself and in operations by allowing increased intelligence for situational awareness and tactical advantage.
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