The availability of big datasets is revolutionising the way social scientists conduct research and challenging traditional disciplinary boundaries between social sciences, and physical and life sciences. It proffers new ways of understanding societal behaviour with great potential to shape and influence not just policy outcomes, but also the very means by which policy-making is undertaken. As yet though, the potential of computational social science has not been realised, and it remains unclear exactly how government might make best use of this rich source of information, or with what practical and ethical implications. This one-day workshop will explore how policy-makers, analysts and researchers should respond to the threats and promises offered by big data to public policy making and government services. Over the course of the day’s discussions we aim to identify if or how we can mainstream the policy contributions of computational social science, and what responsibilities this implies for academia, for policy-makers and for industry.