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Public Administration News  
Information Commissioner to Open up Australian Agencies
Source: futuregov.asia
Source Date: Monday, November 01, 2010
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: Australia
Created: Nov 01, 2010

The Australian government has taken a further step in its pledge to open up government information with the launch of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

The launch included an issues paper, Towards an Australian Government Information Policy, which included ten draft principles defined by the new office to install a “proactive and pro-disclosure obligation” on all government agencies.

Principles include a commitment to open government - as recommended by last year’s Government 2.0 Taskforce - which advocates making public sector information which is: free, based on open standards, easily discoverable, understandable, machine-readable and freely reusable.

In keeping with the policy of open government, agencies will be required to embrace online engagement in policy design and service delivery, with consideration given to community feedback on published information and publication priorities.

If the principles are adhered to, agencies will have to respond either individually or in a public statement to any comment received from the community.

Other principles guiding information best practice include effective information governance; the development of robust information asset management frameworks; and, creating open and accessible formats online.

“The economic and social value of public sector information is enhanced when it is published online in formats that are human-readable and compatible with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines endorsed by the Australian Government in February 2010,” the issues paper said.

The Office of Information Commissioner will now review government agency Freedom of Information decisions and provide education and awareness. The reporting of compliance will also fall under its remit.

The OAIC fills a major gap in the system. We will champion open government, provide advice and assistance to the public and promote better information management by government,” said the new Australian Information Commissioner, Professor John McMillan.

“Our Office will have a comprehensive range of functions, including investigating complaints, reviewing agency FOI decisions, education and awareness, and reporting on compliance.

McMillan said that under the OAIC government agencies will be publishing more information online. He said that the role would include providing advice to governments on information policy and practice.

These changes reflect a broader policy change that acknowledges that information held by the Government is a national resource to be managed for public purposes,” he said.

In a blog posting, ACT Senator and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Immigration and Citizenship, Kate Lundy said: “Australia is doing some amazing work in using the Internet, new technologies and new methods to engage meaningfully with the public to make government more open, engaging and participatory.

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