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Data content standards

Government collects vast amounts of data every day.

Until now there hasn’t been one agreed format for government agencies to collect and record data, meaning the same information is collected and recorded in many different formats across government.

Data content standards (standards) establish a consistent way for collecting, describing and recording different pieces of information across government (for example, date of birth or street address).

The Government Chief Data Steward (GCDS) has the authority to set mandatory standards across government.

Government Chief Data Steward


Co-designing across government

As the lead agency for data, Stats NZ is working across government to co-design, develop, and implement short data content standards, tapping into specialised expertise.

Every 90 days representatives from all government agencies are invited to a workshop to identify new standards that need to be developed.

Stats NZ then works with subject matter experts from agencies to create short-form (1-page summary) standards. Where possible, existing standards that work well for a particular sector will be used as the basis for a cross-agency standard.


Approval process

A 4-stage process ensures standards are fit for purpose.

  1. Challenge Review Committee – ensures standards make sense and are easy to use.
  2. Approval Board – looks at the cost of implementing each standard (including tools, training, and support), and which standards to consider for implementation from a financial perspective.
  3. Approval– the GCDS signs off approved standards and makes them freely available on
  4. Monitoring – monitors agency plans for adoption, providing the tools and support to enable adoption.

An on-going support and maintenance programme ensures standards remain fit for purpose.


Guiding principles

To be eligible for implementation, new standards must meet 5 guiding principles:

  • quality – supports the collection of consistently high-quality data.
  • one size fits all – has wide application and suitability.
  • full alignment to full standard – aligns to related standards or guidance.
  • easy to follow – is easy to follow and comprehend.
  • fit for purpose – summarises the features needed to collect the data.


Standards in approval process

  • Date of birth.
  • Official name – person.
  • Street address.


Standards in development

  • Country.
  • Location.
  • Occupation.
  • Phone number.
  • Relationships.


Contact us

If you would like to know more, please email