Government to open data, turn social in wake of taskforce report

12 of 13 recommendations agreed to, with some reservations on others

Govt 2.0 Taskforce chair Nicholas Gruen

Govt 2.0 Taskforce chair Nicholas Gruen

The Federal Government has agreed to implement 12 of the 13 recommendations laid-out in the Government 2.0 Taskforce report released last December.

The report, entitled Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0, reviewed the government's use of Web 2.0 technology and made recommendations based on three pillars:

  • Leadership, policy and governance to achieve necessary shifts in public sector culture and practice,
  • The application of Web 2.0 collaborative tools and practices to the business of government,
  • Open access to public sector information.

The 13 recommendations cover a range of topics, from the public accessibility of government data and information to the use of copyright and volunteering of information to the Internet.

The government acknowledges all recommendations in the report, and agreed it should make a declaration of openness through technology, saying it would "assist in driving a pro-disclosure culture across government".

Though the government's response is largely positive, it doesn't agree to move licensing of copyright material from the current agency - the Attorney-General's Department - to the Office of the Information Commissioner, proposed in the recommendations.

"These functions are best performed by, and should remain with the (Attorney-General's Department)," the response reads.

The sole recommendation not agreed to, "encouraging info-philanthropy", was deferred in light of the release of the Henry Tax Review this week. The recommendation encourages the Federal Government to recognise not-for-profit organisations and individuals who contribute publicly accessible information to the Internet, by affording them a charitable status.

"We have deferred our response to one recommendation about tax deductibility for information philanthropy until it can be considered in the context of the review of Australia’s Future Tax System and the research report on the contribution of the not-for-profit sector," the Minister for Finance and Deregulation Lindsay Tanner said in a statement.

Both the tax review and the Productivity Commission's report on non-for-profit organisations are now available. The Minister did not return comment at time of writing as to when this recommendation would be reconsidered.

As part of the its response, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) - charged with implementing the Govt 2.0 taskforce recommendations - has established an overarching blog for the department in which it plans to open a communication channel between the Federal Government and Australians.

While the response details the government's view of the recommendations, it is yet to set a timeframe on implementing them.

"The greatest barrier to Government 2.0 is cultural," the taskforce report reads. "Leadership on the issue of more open disclosure and engagement is the key driver of cultural change."

Government 2.0: The response

  • #1 - A declaration of open government by the Australian Government: AGREED
  • #2 - Coordinate with leadership, guidance and support: AGREED
  • #3 - Improve guidance and require agencies to engage online: AGREED (Some reservations)
  • #4 - Encourage public servants to engage online: AGREED
  • #5 - Awards for individuals and agencies that use Govt 2.0 tools: AGREED
  • #6 - Make public sector information open, accessible and reusable: AGREED (With reservations)
  • #7 - Addressing issues in the operation of copyright: AGREED (Disagreed to moving copyright control functions to new department)
  • #8 - Information publication scheme: NOTED
  • #9 - Accessibility compliance between agencies and AGIMO: AGREED
  • #10 - Better risk assessment of Web 2.0 practices: AGREED
  • #11 - Privacy and confidentiality: AGREED (Already in operation)
  • #12 - Definition of Commonwealth Record and better metadata standards: AGREED
  • #13 - Encourage info-philanthropy: DISAGREED (Pending Henry Tax Review)

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Tags censorshipattorney generalGov 2.0Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO)Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner

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