Open government is an ideal and a practice. As a democratic essential it enables members of the community to participate in government, hold government accountable, and draw knowledge and value from the information resources held by government in the service of the public.
Open government builds on those principles and requires practical strategies to make public sector information habitually available to the public.
Australian Government agencies have taken great strides in publishing and sharing information. Major projects, reports and guidelines are summarised in an issues paper, Towards an Australian Government Information Policy, published by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) in November 2010. Many other projects are underway to implement the Government 2.0 Taskforce report, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0. A key development was the launch of the data.gov.au site which now makes over 200 Commonwealth, State and Territory government data sets available for public download and reuse.
The OAIC has developed the Principles on open public sector information to further strengthen Australia's open government reforms. First proposed in the 2010 OAIC issues paper, the Principles have been refined through a process of public consultation. A range of government agencies, specialist bodies and interested individuals have contributed to their development through written submissions and discussion on a public blog.
The central theme to emerge from the public consultation was strong endorsement of a set of Principles to promote open public sector information and drive government information policy.
The OAIC encourages agencies to embed the Principles in their internal policies and procedures on information management. By doing so they will help build a culture of proactive information disclosure and community engagement.
Prof John McMillan
Australian Information Commissioner