Agencies opening up to the opportunities of public sector information

As part of a worldwide movement, the Australian Government is fundamentally changing the way that information is valued, managed, used and shared with others. However, there is more work to be done.

Australian Information Commissioner, Professor John McMillan, today launched a report Open public sector information: from principles to practice. The report details the results of a survey conducted by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) on how 191 Australian Government agencies are managing public sector information (PSI). The survey was structured around the eight Principles on open public sector information published by the OAIC in 2011.

‘The true value of information is realised only when others can use and build upon it to create new ideas, inventions and strategies. This requires that government information is managed in a way that makes it readily discoverable, accessible and reusable by business and the community,’ Professor McMillan said.

‘The key finding of the report is that Australian Government agencies are actively embracing an open access and proactive disclosure culture. The high response rate to the survey confirms that finding. The growing use of digital and web technologies to support a PSI transformation is another sign’.

However, the report found that agencies face many policy challenges that include: making information discoverable and useable, moving to a default position of open access to information and having sufficient resources for robust information asset management.

The report identified five priority areas for action to meet these challenges: greater awareness of government policies on open PSI, further development and refinement of these policies, better collaboration among agencies, more investment in data sharing infrastructure and further examination of the challenges and opportunities for the galleries, libraries, archives and museums sector.

‘One theme to emerge was the importance of strong and engaged leadership in agencies to champion open government’, Professor McMillan said. ‘Agencies in which senior management actively promote open access reported significant progress in implementing cultural change.’

‘An open PSI access strategy is vital to enable Australia to fully enjoy the benefits of an open government model. Great strides to unlock PSI assets have recently been taken through a range of Government strategies, including Gov 2.0, freedom of information changes, the innovation agenda and a shift in public service culture. This is an ideal platform from which to move forward. I am confident that Australian’s open government journey will be a fascinating and an ultimately productive one’.

Media contact: Ms Leila Daniels – 0407 663 968 or media@oaic.gov.au

The OAIC’sreport Open public sector information: from principles to practice is available here: www.oaic.gov.au/publications/reports/open_psi_principle_to_practice_february2013.html

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