Project 6: The value of Public Sector Information for cultural institutions
Professor John Quiggin examined issues relating to the economic value and pricing of access to Public Sector Information, particularly in relation to cultural institutions such as museums and libraries. The report and accompanying technical paper found that most Australian cultural institutions have implemented their digitisation strategies as ‘unfunded mandates’, and in the face of budget constraints and a choice between providing comprehensive access based on cost-recovery and less-comprehensive free access, most have opted for some form of cost-recovery. The report argues that if transaction costs are greater than 20 per cent of the price charged, free (publicly financed) access will deliver greater social benefit, and recommended that agencies consider a strategy of ‘differentiated information products’ to provide a balance between free and cost-recovered access.
The Government 2.0 Taskforce was set up to examine how government departments and agencies could adapt to the new era of freely available and mashable information. The inquiry process itself, largely unchanged since the development of modern methods of government in the 19th century, is an obvious candidate for change, and the work of the Taskforce has exemplified this.
While the taskforce has not entirely escaped the traditional process of inquiry, draft report, and final report, producing recommendations that are often ignored, it has managed a much more interactive approach than for any process of this kind with which I have been involved in the past. I hope that the blog will outlive the Taskforce and provide a forum for continuing movements towards openness and free sharing of public informaton.