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Whole of Government Information Publication Scheme

2009 November 9
by Eric Wainwright

Eric Wainwright of eKnowledge Structures has been commissioned by the Taskforce to undertake Project 7 regarding a Whole of Government Information Publication Scheme.

Not a topic that has inspired much discussion so far! But here at eKnowledge Structures, Dagmar Parer and I have been wrestling with our brief under Taskforce Project 7.

The proposed new Freedom of Information legislation, together with the Bill establishing the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) are scheduled to come into Parliament by 2009. If the Bills are passed, the Commissioner will have some fairly wide powers relating to Commonwealth information management. The Information Publication Scheme (IPS) will be mandatory for all Commonwealth Departments and agencies. Queensland has been in the forefront with such Schemes, basing its approach on the UK model. It has clearly influenced not only the new Commonwealth legislation but also the Government Information (Public Access) Act in NSW, and the Right to Information Bill in Tasmania.

We are considering how these schemes might be constructed and implemented in a way that actually results in assisting the Government’s objectives for more pro-active and open disclosure of, and around, information held by Government agencies.

Some questions to kick off discussion are:

  • There is a risk that the IPS will be seen by agencies as just an additional compliance chore to add to their existing list – Annual Reports, Senate lists of files, etc. How can we minimise this risk?
  • Can the IPSs be implemented so that they act as a catalyst for more integrated agency information management planning and practices, and clearer information pathways for the public?
  • The Bill (section 8A) refers to ‘operational information’ which must be published, and allows that ‘the agency may publish other information held’. Is there a right balance between maximum pro-active disclosure under these clauses and the potentially extra costs of publishing and maintaining very little used material on agency websites?
  • Can we use IPS’s to advance the visibility, availability and utility of government data from a much wider range of agencies?
  • How best can the OIC create initial momentum for a positive roll-out of Schemes across government, and then assist agencies in the on-going plans required by the new Act?

Or any other comments!

5 Responses
  1. 2009 November 9
    Gordon Grace permalink

    From Finance/AGIMO’s page on the Library Deposit Scheme (LDS):

    Under the LDS Australian Government departments and agencies are required to provide one copy of each publication that they produce to each participating deposit library. Deposit libraries comprise the National Library of Australia, State Libraries and publicly funded universities identified under the Higher Education Funding Act 1988.

    The LDS supplements legal deposit, a statutory requirement under the Copyright Act 1968 and equivalent State legislation, administered by the National Library of Australia and State reference libraries respectively. Please note that by complying with the LDS, publishing agencies also meet their legal deposit requirements.

  2. 2009 November 9
    IanB permalink

    Eric & Dagmar the challenges now are no less daunting than the original “Management of Government Information as a National Strategic Resource” (IMSC). Only now the scope is information, data and services….

  3. 2009 November 10
    ben rogers permalink


    from my experience – access to data by AG from AG is very time consuming – there are numerous hurdles in terms of data licenses, custodianship, cost recovery, maintenance, fit-for-purpose, liability worries. If the IPS can go some way to addressing this red tape then there is potential for a net gain in productivity from its implementation.


  4. 2009 November 10

    Registering interest in this topic on behalf of the Office of the Information Commissioner NSW, which I am helping to establish. As the OIC is staffed we hope to become actively involved in this debate about the role of IPS and equivalents. In the meantime, I am happy to handle any enquiries/liaison. Early information on the implementation of the new Right to Information regime under the NSW GIPA Act, and contact details are at

  5. 2009 November 16
    Christine permalink

    re: There is a risk that the IPS will be seen by agencies as just an additional compliance chore to add to their existing list – Annual Reports, Senate lists of files, etc. How can we minimise this risk?

    Perhaps the most appropriate question is to ask how we can minimise the effort required? We should look for by-product information – harvest from web-sites and other publications. This would not reduce the risk however it would mitigate the impact of the risk realisation.

Comments are closed.