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
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