Uncategorised 9th December 2016

Australia’s Open Government commitments- at a glance

by Peter Timmins

The National Action Plan is no easy read.

But those 64 pages that some might struggle with contain 15 strong statements of intent. The breadth and scope is commendable:

“Taken together these actions will advance transparency, accountability, public participation and technological innovation over the next two years.”

The way also has been left open for more to come within the 18 month period before the next plan is due:

“The Government will continue to engage publicly to identify new opportunities to promote open government, including through a new ongoing multi-stakeholder forum (commitment 5.1). New commitments may be considered by the multi-stakeholder forum and potentially added to this National Action Plan, or considered for potential inclusion in our second National Action Plan due in 2018.”

The devil of course is in the detail and the actions taken to deliver.

This network with your assistance and support intends to hold government to its promises: (emphasis added)

Transparency and accountability in business

1.1 Improve whistle-blower protections in the tax and corporate sectors

Australia will ensure appropriate protections are in place for people who report corruption, fraud, tax evasion or avoidance, and misconduct within the corporate sector. We will do this by improving whistle-blower protections for people who disclose information about tax misconduct to the Australian Taxation Office. We will also pursue reforms to whistle-blower protections in the corporate sector, with consultation on options to strengthen and harmonise these protections with those in the public sector

1.2 Beneficial ownership transparency

Australia will improve transparency of information on beneficial ownership and control of companies available to relevant authorities. As part of this, we will consult with the corporate sector, non-government organisations and the public on the details, scope and implementation of a beneficial ownership register for companies, as well as other options to improve beneficial ownership transparency.

1.3 Extractive industries transparency

Australia will enhance disclosure of company payments and government revenues from the oil, gas and mining sectors. We will do this by implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Standard (including working to enhance company disclosure of payments to governments for the sale of petroleum and minerals) and by continuing to support the application of EITI principles around the world.

1.4 Combating crime

Australia will strengthen its ability to prevent, detect and respond to corporate crime, particularly bribery of foreign public officials, money laundering, and terrorism financing. We will do this by pursuing reforms to relevant legislative frameworks, which will involve a process of public consultation.

Open data and digital transformation

2.1 Release high-value datasets and enable data-driven innovation

Australia will continue to make more public data openly available and support its use to launch commercial and non-profit ventures, conduct research, make data-driven decisions, and solve complex problems. As part of this, we will work with the research, not-for-profit and private sectors to identify the characteristics of high-value public datasets, and to promote innovative use of data to drive social and economic outcomes.

2.2 Build and maintain public trust to address concerns about data sharing and release

Australia will build public trust around data sharing and release. We will do this by actively engaging with the public regarding how open data is being used to better communicate the benefits and understand public concerns, and we will improve privacy risk management capability across government

2.3 Digitally transform the delivery of government services

Australia will continue to invest in digital technologies to make government services simpler, faster and cheaper, making it easier for the public to work and interact with government. We will do this by preparing a digital transformation roadmap, and establishing public dashboards to improve transparency around the performance of government services.

Access to government information

3.1 Information management and access laws fit for the 21st Century

 Australia will ensure our information access laws, policies and practices are modern and appropriate for the digital information age. As part of this, we will consider and consult on options to develop a simpler and more coherent framework for managing and accessing government information that better reflects the digital era, including the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), the Archives Act 1983 (Archives Act) and, where relevant, the Privacy Act 1988 (with primary focus on the Archives Act and FOI Act), which is supported by efficient and effective policies and practices.

3.2 Understand the use of Freedom of Information

Australia will better measure and improve our understanding of the public’s use of rights under freedom of information laws. We will do this by working with states and territories to develop uniform metrics on public use of freedom of information access rights, and by collecting and publishing this data.

3.3 Improve the discoverability and accessibility of government data and information

Australia will make it easier for the public to find, access and use government data and information. We will do this by making greater use of central portals, digital platforms and other tools to improve discoverability and accessibility

Integrity in the public sector

4.1 Confidence in the electoral system and political parties

To enhance integrity and confidence in Australia’s electoral system. We will do this by working with the Parliament and the public to investigate the conduct of the 2016 election, use of technology in elections and the framework of donations to political parties and other political entities.

4.2 National Integrity Framework

Australia will strengthen its ability to prevent, detect and respond to corruption in the public sector. We will do this in collaboration with the corporate sector, non-government organisations, academia and the public, including by holding the first Government Business Roundtable on Anti-Corruption in 2017. We will review the jurisdiction and capabilities of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP)-led Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre (FACC) with the development of each National Action Plan to ensure they can focus on protecting Commonwealth agencies from risks of corruption.

4.3 Open Contracting

Australia will ensure transparency in government procurement and continue to support the Open Contracting Global Principles. As part of this, we will publicly review the Australian Government’s compliance with the Open Contracting Data Standard.

Public participation and engagement

5.1 Delivery of the Plan

Australia will ensure that our Open Government National Action Plan is a platform for ongoing dialogue, collaboration and open government reform. We will do this by establishing a permanent dialogue mechanism with civil society, which includes a multi-stakeholder forum and transparent reporting and accountability mechanisms. The multi-stakeholder forum will at a minimum track the implementation of commitments, ensure commitments continue to be relevant and ambitious, inform the drafting of future National Action Plans and raise awareness about open government in the broader community.

5.2 Public participation in government decision making

Australia will work towards improving public participation and engagement to enhance policy and service delivery outcomes for Australians. We will do this by establishing a new Australian Government framework for public participation and engagement.