In response to a report on opening up government information, the Victorian Government has said that the base work for opening up its information, also called Government 2.0, will be laid out this year, with the default position being that all information should be accessible.
The Victorian Government was responding to a report released in July 2009 by a parliamentary committee called the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee (EDIC).
The government expressed interest in providing open access to information on one single entry point website under creative commons licensing, and would undertake "significant work" this year to achieve that goal.
"The release of [public sector information] will require a fundamental shift in how the Victorian Government manages its information and will constitute a significant reform of the Victorian public service. The Victorian Government acknowledges that this reform process will have ramifications for resources, departmental processes, structure and budgets," the government wrote in its response, acknowledging the large scale restructuring required to achieve "open" information access.
Supporting recommendations from the EDIC committee, the Victorian Government stated that open access would be the default position for the management for its public sector information. However, the government stated there would be exceptions.
"While open access is a desirable principle, there are a number of valid reasons why access to [information] should sometimes be restricted or the [information] should be released in a limited form," said the government in its response.
"[Examples] include restricting access on grounds of privacy and confidentiality, often required under legislation; other statutory requirements such as national or state security; third party/contractual arrangements or in order to preserve commercial confidentiality," the government wrote, citing that instances where legislation dealing with privacy, copyright, security concerns and public interest would prevent the release of information.
The government also supported EDIC recommendations by outlining its interest in developing and implementing a system of information licensing that uses Creative Commons. Creative Commons is a flexible alternative to copyright for protecting works and information.
"The Victorian Government further commits to the development of a whole-of-government information management framework whereby [information] is made available under Creative Commons licensing by default with a tailored suite of licences for restricted materials," it wrote.
However, the government didn't offer full support for the release of public sector information created from external sources.
"There are likely to be circumstances where this will not always be possible, such as where primary data comes from a source outside the Victorian Public Service," wrote the government.
The changes would require not only a change in the way information was stored, but also in the mindset of public servants, the government acknowledged .
"These reforms will entail significant modification to current policy and practice across the whole of the Victorian Public Service and for these recommendations to be implemented there will have to be considerable shift in the way the public service creates information and data," the government wrote in its response, claiming that it would be a difficult task.
"It is likely that departments will face substantial challenges that they will need to overcome in order to reform their information management practices."