Whole of Government Information Publication Scheme
Eric Wainwright of eKnowledge Structures has been commissioned by the Taskforce to undertake Project 7 regarding a Whole of Government Information Publication Scheme.
Not a topic that has inspired much discussion so far! But here at eKnowledge Structures, Dagmar Parer and I have been wrestling with our brief under Taskforce Project 7.
The proposed new Freedom of Information legislation, together with the Bill establishing the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) are scheduled to come into Parliament by 2009. If the Bills are passed, the Commissioner will have some fairly wide powers relating to Commonwealth information management. The Information Publication Scheme (IPS) will be mandatory for all Commonwealth Departments and agencies. Queensland has been in the forefront with such Schemes, basing its approach on the UK model. It has clearly influenced not only the new Commonwealth legislation but also the Government Information (Public Access) Act in NSW, and the Right to Information Bill in Tasmania.
We are considering how these schemes might be constructed and implemented in a way that actually results in assisting the Government’s objectives for more pro-active and open disclosure of, and around, information held by Government agencies.
Some questions to kick off discussion are:
- There is a risk that the IPS will be seen by agencies as just an additional compliance chore to add to their existing list – Annual Reports, Senate lists of files, etc. How can we minimise this risk?
- Can the IPSs be implemented so that they act as a catalyst for more integrated agency information management planning and practices, and clearer information pathways for the public?
- The Bill (section 8A) refers to ‘operational information’ which must be published, and allows that ‘the agency may publish other information held’. Is there a right balance between maximum pro-active disclosure under these clauses and the potentially extra costs of publishing and maintaining very little used material on agency websites?
- Can we use IPS’s to advance the visibility, availability and utility of government data from a much wider range of agencies?
- How best can the OIC create initial momentum for a positive roll-out of Schemes across government, and then assist agencies in the on-going plans required by the new Act?
Or any other comments!