Hi, I'm Gordon de Brouwer. I'm here on Ngunnawal Country. I’m the Australian Public Service Commissioner.

International Access to Information Day, for me, is a really great opportunity to celebrate transparency and to reflect on just how important transparency is for public servants and for society, for people to be able to live their lives, and actually, for government to work really effectively.

A culture of leadership and decision making that supports greater information access is the responsibility not just of the leaders or the top person in the hierarchy of an institution. But it's a responsibility of every person in that institution. And that's your duty as a public servant.

So everyone, frankly, can choose to exercise that leadership of openness and transparency in how they do their job, in the way they talk with the public, in the way they release information, the way they engage with their colleagues and the way they talk with the public. Everyone's a steward of that culture of openness and transparency.

Increased transparency is a fundamental part to delivering integrity and good government. Transparency is one of the values actually required of public servants of being accountable and open, is a legal requirement on public servants, as is the requirement to operate with integrity.

What transparency affirms, it shows that governments or public servants are capable of doing their job and that they do so with honesty and fairness. And showing capability and doing your job with honesty and fairness are the really deep drivers of increasing trust and growing trust of the public, in government.

So transparency is fundamental to integrity. One of the priorities of the government in thinking about the public sector is that the public service must put people and business at the centre of policy and delivery. Transparency is the way we can ensure that that's happening, and we can do that through transparency of actually, what are the requirements of the public service?

So on engagement, that is, there's say a charter of partnership and engagement of being held to account through a public document of how we deliver partnership and how we work with the public. But also transparency around standards of engagement.

So one of the things that's built into capability reviews is looking at domestic and international standards of engagement and how departments and agencies rank against that and being open to the public and honest with the public around that form of engagement.

So in the past few years, we've made a number of changes – we're providing more information about what people think about government, back to the public, especially around service delivery. And the Trust and Transparency of Government Services is now a survey that we publish regularly and that shows what people think of a range of government services. That's been a great development, to go back into the public domain, about what people think of government.

People provide a lot of information about themselves to government, and we use that for a lot of data work and understanding of what's happening in the world and what's happening in people's lives to evaluate policy and programs.

But people also provide a lot of information about what they think about government to government. But we haven't in the past given very much of that information back to the public. So we've tended to keep that inside to reflect on. And sometimes it's a bit embarrassing. Over the past couple of years, we've increased more about the information that the public provides about what they think about government services, we're providing that information back to the public.

So the release of the Trust and Transparency Survey, for example, now shows a satisfaction and trust in a range of different service delivery agencies. We're now publishing that and people can see very directly what they think of government. And that's really important to build trust in government, people have to know the government's honest about what they see as the value of the services and the quality of the services. And we're giving that information back to the public in order to increase transparency and increase the accountability and change behaviours and improve service delivery.

The APS has a big role to play in providing information and in providing information online. Most people now get their information digitally, and so having really easy to use digital services is important, and that's a primary responsibility of the public service.

In providing information to the public digitally, it's really important that the documents are put together as digital documents for people to access rather than just really an online version of a word document.

Just as an example of that, the Public Service Commission is going to be providing the State of the Service Report later this year and that will be for the first time, a fully digital version of that. So created digitally online for people to see rather than really just a written document that’s put up on different pages for people to see.

My message to the public service on International Access to Information Day is that transparency is really important. It's your responsibility. Transparency is the lifeblood of the strength of our democracy and of our society. And I really encourage and support you in being open and accountable to the public.