Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Finance) Lindsay Tanner has accepted all but one of the recommendations made in the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s report, handed down in December last year.
The response to Engage: Getting on with Gov 2.0 was handed over to the Finance Minister 22 December 2009 and indicates significant cultural change in the ranks of the Federal Government.
While twelve of the thirteen recommendations have been largely accepted, one regarding tax deductibility for information philanthropy has been deferred for consideration.
Finance will lead the implementation of the recommendations and launch an online forum for agencies to record their initiatives and “lessons learnt”. In consultation with the Steering Group, Finance will “issue and maintain guidance to agencies to assist making the government more consultative, participatory and transparent”.
Agency efforts will need to focus on making the necessary internal changes to organizational polices and technology platforms. The response says that project piloting will be used to alleviate any concern or reluctance APS employees may have using the new tools.
The APSC will also be required to incorporate an Open Government progress report in the State of the Service Report from 2010-11.
In the first of the new raft of initiatives, Minister Tanner included his response announcement in a blog, that will be managed by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO). This blog is intended to provide a forum on issues of ICT use in government. In launching the Blog on 3 May, Ann Steward, the Australian Government’s Chief Information Officer and Deputy Secretary of the Australian Government Information Management Office said:
‘Our goal in setting up this blog is to enable consultation with community and stakeholders in the work that AGIMO is doing. I’m really interested in your views on how we can make this blog an effective mechanism for participation and consultation. What do you want to hear from us? How often? What do you think of the ICT Workforce Plan?’
Apart from the Tanner announcement, which attracted 13 or so overwhelmingly positive comments, so far the blog has been the vehicle for a number of AGIMO staff to provide information about the blog itself, its operation and some related topics. Respondents are not exactly there in droves.
Although no roles are given, those that have commented appear to be public servants, rather than the broader community. It will be interesting to see what AGIMO does to draw the wider community in when it wants responses to issues or ideas. It will also be interesting to see if the ICT industry is prepared to respond on the blog if respondents cannot hide behind the cloak of anonymity or the use of a pseudonym!
In anticipation of the report’s findings, the Government introduced two new bills to Parliament to foster a national environment of data transparency: the Information Commissioner Bill 2009 and the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 2009.
On 26 February 2010, the Government appointed Commonwealth Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, Information Commissioner Designate. Professor McMillan is responsible for ensuring the successful establishment of Office of the Information Commissioner.
FOI reforms the Government has already undertaken will require more government information to be released and published under the new Information Publication Scheme.
The report also recommended the Federal Government make a declaration of open government. Senator Ludwig hinted this will happen in the near future.