The Federal Government will institute a specialised website devoted to providing specific information about budget spending in individual regions as part of the Labor party’s agreement with independent MPs.
The agreement, signed by Labor leader, Julia Gillard, as well as Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, and the two supporting independent MPs, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, will see a number of commitments to regional Australia enacted, including additional $9.9 billion funding to regional Australia in key areas such as health, education, skills and infrastructure. The agreement also secures the continuation of Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN), provided regional areas are given priority in being connected and price parity is retained between regional and metropolitan areas.
The agreement with the independents will also see parliamentary reform, room for private member’s bills and accountability measures designed to keep the reigning minority government in check, particularly around regional commitments.
As part of the accountability measures, Gillard and Swan committed to establishing a new budget website designed to provide more information on how Federal Budget spending is delivered to individual areas. The site, myregion.gov.au, is to provide detailed budget reporting for each region and, according to the agreement “will provide interactive ‘contact us’ opportunities for the community to find out more and make enquiries”.
“Other public indicators of service performance and social, economic and population outcomes will also be reported,” the agreement reads.
Computerworld Australia contacted the Department of Treasury for comment, but did not receive an answer at the time of writing.
The Federal Government has made budget reporting and statistics, as well as other government information, more open and accessible as a result of the Government 2.0 Taskforce report released last year, including the reappropriation of content from Commonwealth Copyright to the more usable Creative Commons by attribution (CC-BY) license.
The 2010/2011 Federal Budget became one of the first government documents to use the license, with plans to appropriate all content on the Australian Parliament House website under the license during a site revamp next month.
Fierce Government 2.0 advocate, Labor Senator, Kate Lundy, has commended the move to Creative Commons licensing as a “great first step”, but previously said a more open and interactive system like the UK Treasury’s Combined Online Information System (COINS) should be implemented for greater accessibility and usabilty of financial data.
The UK Treasury also crowdsourced ideas from the web through its ”Spending Challenge” website in order to determine where budget cuts might be made durign a recent change of government there. Forecasts by analysis firm Gartner indicate this could increase exponentially in the future, with one in five government processes globally will be based on crowdsourced data and ideas.