The Federal Government 2.0 Taskforce released its draft report today on using technology to open up public sector information, recommending that agencies be judged on their ability to release public sector information.
Public sector information is a national resource and that releasing as much of it on as permissive terms as possible will maximise its economic and social value and reinforce a healthy democracy.
Federal Government 2.0 Taskforce draft report
The report has been released for public comment until 16 December. The comment will be included in the final report to be completed by the end of the year when the taskforce finishes.
The central recommendation in the draft report was that the government should make a declaration which recognises that "public sector information is a national resource and that releasing as much of it on as permissive terms as possible will maximise its economic and social value and reinforce a healthy democracy".
With a few exceptions, public service information should be, according to the taskforce, free, based on open standards, easily discoverable, understandable, machine-readable and freely reusable. The goal was to change crown copyright into creative commons licences which invite others to quote, share and transform them without seeking government permission. The report also recommended that the privacy commissioner should develop guidelines for the de-identification of data to protect privacy.
The taskforce believed that Australia's approach to government 2.0 had been hampered by the fragmented direction different governments and agencies had taken. The report said that a lead agency should be put in charge of government 2.0 and that a work program should be developed by a steering committee made up of the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; the new Office of the Information Commissioner; the Department of Finance and Deregulation; the Australian Public Service Commission; the National Archives of Australia; the Australian Bureau of Statistics; and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Agencies would be "required" to engage online. The report recommended that, within 12 months of the government's response to the report, all major agencies identify the barriers within their organisation which inhibit online engagement and develop plans to reduce the impact of the barriers. The agencies would nominate projects to further their opening up of public information.
The report suggested that their progress be made public in the Australian Public Service Commission's annual state of the service report and that the agencies be required to report their performance in their annual reports.
Awards for agencies or individuals that did good work in the sector were ideal for fostering the right environment for open public sector information, according to the taskforce.
"Reservoirs of experience and ideas already exist within the public and private sectors and we want to be able to tap into those to achieve more inclusive, open and effective government," Finance Minister Lindsey Tanner, who started the taskforce back in June, said in a statement.