Australia: Declaration of Open Government

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The Australian Government makes a Declaration on Open Government

Canberra: 16 July 2010

The Australian Minister for Finance and Deregulation Lindsay Tanner has on the behalf of the Australian Government published a Declaration on Open Government.

The announcement states:

“The central recommendation of the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s report was that the Australian Government makes a declaration of open government. As the Minister responsible for that Taskforce, I am proud to make that Declaration today on behalf of the Australian Government.

Declaration of Open Government

The Australian Government now declares that, in order to promote greater participation in Australia’s democracy, it is committed to open government based on a culture of engagement, built on better access to and use of government held information, and sustained by the innovative use of technology.

Citizen collaboration in policy and service delivery design will enhance the processes of government and improve the outcomes sought. Collaboration with citizens is to be enabled and encouraged. Agencies are to reduce barriers to online engagement, undertake social networking, crowd sourcing and online collaboration projects and support online engagement by employees, in accordance with the Australian Public Service Commission Guidelines.

The possibilities for open government depend on the innovative use of new internet-based technologies. Agencies are to develop policies that support employee-initiated, innovative Government 2.0-based proposals.

The Australian Government’s support for openness and transparency in Government has three key principles:

  • Informing: strengthening citizen’s rights of access to information, establishing a pro-disclosure culture across Australian Government agencies including through online innovation, and making government information more accessible and usable;
  • Engaging: collaborating with citizens on policy and service delivery to enhance the processes of government and improve the outcomes sought; and
  • Participating: making government more consultative and participative.

Supporting Initiatives

The Australian Government’s commitment to action on each of these principles is demonstrated by:

  • the passage of legislation reforming the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and establishing the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner;
  • the Government’s announcement on 3 May 2010 of its response to the Government 2.0 Taskforce report, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0; and
  • Its response to the Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration report, in which the Government agreed that creating more open government is a key reform for the Australian Public Service.

Effective collaboration between citizens and government requires timely sharing of the information held by Government. The Government’s FOI Reforms create the new statutory Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and establish a comprehensive Information Publication Scheme that requires agencies to publish a wide range of information.

The Australian Government has commenced the program of initiatives outlined in its response to the Taskforce’s report in accordance with the agreed implementation timetable.

The Department of Finance and Deregulation will report annually on implementation progress of the recommendations of the Government 2.0 Taskforce to the Government through the Secretaries’ Information and Communications Technology Governance Board.

The Gillard Government is committed to creating a culture of public sector openness, transparency and engagement. This Declaration is a demonstration of that commitment.

The Declaration underpins a range of Government initiatives already under way. The establishment of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Government’s broader freedom of information reforms aim to restore trust and integrity in government and drive agencies to proactively release information to the public. The Declaration also reflects one of the key reforms of Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of Australian Government Administration, which called for more open government.

The Declaration encourages and affirms among Australian Government agencies a culture of openness built on the key principles of informing, engaging and participating with the public. And it acknowledges that the internet holds a crucial role in realising a more open and transparent form of government in this country.

The Declaration is about making more government information available to the public online, and encouraging reuse of that information in new, valuable and potentially unexpected ways. It is about giving Australians more of a say in forming the policy and delivering the services that have an influence on their lives. It is about enabling government agencies and individual public servants to be more innovative and more responsive to input and feedback, while still maintaining the high ethical and professional standards we expect.

I believe that the Declaration lays an important foundation in implementing our Government 2.0 agenda. In the spirit of that agenda I urge you to read the Declaration and welcome your ongoing feedback as the Gillard Government implements a culture of openness and works towards a more participatory form of government.

Lindsay Tanner

Minister for Finance and Deregulation”

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