Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Public Sector Information Recommendations for Victoria

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-06-26


Annoyingly, I missed the inquiry into the use and availability of Public Sector Information (PSI) in Victoria, but this isn’t surprising given how difficult it is to find out what inquiries are happening.  (Regular readers will remember my many posts on the procedural problems with the "Melbourne’s Future Water Supply" inquiry).

Still, I did notice the final report come out, and I’ll be commenting on many of the individual dot points in the recommendations, and doing "compare and contrasts" of selected submissions over the next few weeks.

The list of recommendations is over the fold, and taken from the Victoria – 21st Century Approach to Government Information (2009-06-24) announcement published in the Victorian eGov Resource Centre newsletter.

My general feeling is that many of these recommendations have actually have regulations in place for decades and the tools to implement them, but that the Victorian Government thoroughly deserved the public flogging by the Auditor General a little time back about incompetent (or worse) management of information.

If we pare away the motherhood statements, then there appears to be some good stuff here.  Unfortunately, there has been some successful FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) by at least one of the companies making submissions, especially about definitions of terms like "open standards", and pushing the advantages short-term thinking.  (To start with, have a look at the Google and Microsoft submissions…. one muddies the waters and reeks of lawyers, while the other has a conversational tone, pretty clearly stating "this is our philosophical position, and here is a detailed list of various commercial interests we have in this process".  Guess which one is from which company?)

Look a little closer, and we see that there are quite a few escape clauses written into the recommendations… and you can bet there will be more by the time the executive is done with them!

Anyway, the list follows…. feel free to make comments here on particular points, and I’ll try to address your thoughts when it is time to write the post for that particular recommendation.

Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data Recommendations

  1. That the Victorian Government release a public statement indicating that it endorses open access as the default position for the management of its public sector information.
     
  2. That the Victorian Government develop a whole-of-government Information Management Framework (IMF) with the following key features:
    • that the object of the IMF is to promote and facilitate increased access to and re-use of Victorian public sector information (PSI) by government, citizens, and businesses;
    • that the default position of the IMF be that all PSI is made available;
    • that the IMF define and describe criteria under which access to PSI may be restricted, or released under licence;
    • that PSI made available under the IMF be priced at no cost or marginal cost; and
    • that the IMF establish a systematic and consistent whole-of- government methodology for categorisation, storage and management of PSI.
       
  3. That the Victorian Government prospectively apply the Information Management Framework to its public sector information.
     
  4. That the Victorian Government adopt a narrow definition for the public sector for the purpose of establishing the government Information Management Framework. Initially this definition should comprise only Victorian Government departments.
     
  5. That implementation of the Information Management Framework be conducted via a staged approach, with the executive branch of the Victorian Government leading development of the framework, and encouraging other agencies and entities to adopt similar frameworks, in the following order:
    • Victorian Government;
    • Parliament of Victoria, the judicial system and statutory authorities; and
    • other public sector agencies, including public hospitals and local councils.
       
  6. That the Victorian Government, through individual departments, employ a systematic approach to identify materials for release and publish those materials on department websites.
     
  7. That the Victorian Government seek legal advice to ensure it is fully covered for all areas of possible legal action that may arise from the release of public sector information.
     
  8. That the Victorian Government encourage as part of its funding agreements with research agencies and higher education institutions that research results be deposited in open access journals or repositories. The Government should consider providing additional funds to these agencies to allow them to publish in open access journals that charge a fee for publication.
     
  9. That the Victorian Government encourage divisions operating in the fields of biological innovation and research, including biotechnology development, to consider participating in the BiOS licensing system.
     
  10. That the Victorian Government encourage departments to identify and publish materials under NEALS to allow these materials to be used freely for educational purposes by Australian schools.
     
  11. That the Victorian Government develop a consistent copyright licensing system for use across all government departments.
     
  12. That the Victorian Government establish a central office to develop a copyright licensing system, and provide advice to government on government copyright.
     
  13. That exclusive arrangements not be entered into for licensing Victorian Government public sector information, excepting exclusive rights necessary toprotect the public interest.
     
  14. That the Victorian Government adopt the Creative Commons licensing model as the default licensing system for the Information Management Framework.
     
  15. That the Victorian Government adopt a hybrid public sector information licensing model comprising Creative Commons and a tailored suite of licences for restricted materials.
     
  16. That the Victorian Government develop specific guidelines for the pricing of public sector information (PSI), emphasising the provision of PSI at no cost or marginal cost.
     
  17. That all information and data determined to form part of the Victorian Government’s basic information product set, as defined by the Productivity Commission, be priced at no cost or marginal costs.
     
  18. That the Victorian Government reconsider with a view to minimising, if not stopping, the practice of departments charging each other to access and re-use Government-owned information and data.
     
  19. That the Victorian Government classify additional information products into three broad categories and price them as follows:
    • dissemination of existing products at no cost or marginal cost;
    • incremental products (which may involve additional data collection or compilation) at incremental (avoidable) cost; and
    • commercial (contestable) products according to competitive neutrality principles.
       
  20. That the Victorian Government enhance its role as an information provider as a means to improve social benefits and facilitate commercial activity in the private sector.
     
  21. That the Victorian Government require wherever possible that its information and data be stored in open standard formats.
     
  22. That the Victorian Government develop a policy position and guidelines on the use of open standards for presentation, storage and delivery of public sector information by public sector agencies.
     
  23. That the Victorian Government engage with the Australian National Data Service project regarding its potential application to public sector research.
     
  24. That where appropriate, the Victorian Government release its public sector information in both primary and secondary formats.
     
  25. That in future, and where possible, the Victorian Government develop and design databases in such a way as to facilitate the removal of identifying information if required.
     
  26. That the Victorian Government develop and implement a custodianship policy as a mechanism to manage its information and data.
     
  27. That the custodianship policy be based on the decentralised model where the management of information and data is retained in individual departments.
     
  28. That the Victorian Government develop custodianship guidelines to assist departments implement and maintain the custodianship policy.
     
  29. That the Victorian Government prospectively establish metadata records for most public sector information.
     
  30. That all Victorian Government departments implement the Australian Government Locater Service metadata standard.
     
  31. That the authoring of metadata be based on the decentralised model where data custodians retain responsibility for the establishment and ongoing management of metadata records.
     
  32. That the Victorian Government establish a data management position within each of its departments, which holds responsibility for management and quality assurance of departments’ metadata records.
     
  33. That the Victorian Government amend the AGLS Victoria: Metadata implementation manual to accommodate requirements of the Information Management Framework.
     
  34. That the Victorian Government ensure that data custodians and data management officers are provided with adequate training to support the implementation of the Australian Government Locater Service metadata standard.
     
  35. That the Victorian Government develop a whole-of-government public sector information (PSI) directory, and that metadata for all new PSI created within the Victorian Government be prospectively added to the directory.
     
  36. That following development of the whole-of-government public sector information directory, and as resources allow, existing and historical documents and data held by the Victorian Government be added to the directory.
     
  37. That the Victorian Government establish a public sector information steering committee for the purpose of overseeing, guiding and implementing the Victorian Government Information Management Framework.
     
  38. That the steering committee be comprised of senior departmental staff; and that it be required to regularly report to the Minister responsible for the Information Management Framework on the framework’s implementation.
     
  39. That the Victorian Government work with other jurisdictions towards national harmonisation in enhancing access to and re-use of PSI.
     
  40. That following implementation of the Victorian Government Information Management Framework, the potential benefits to the public, commerce and Victorian public service efficiency be widely promoted.
     
  41. That the Victorian Government, through the steering committee, establish a reporting mechanism for the Information Management Framework.
     
  42. That the Victorian Government require, as part of its whole-of-government ICT Procurement Policy, that software procured by the Government be capable of saving files in open standard formats, and that wherever possible, the software be configured to save in open standard formats by default.
     
  43. That the Victorian Government ensure when preparing guidance for procurement, ICT personnel should be equally aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both OSS and proprietary software.
     
  44. That the Victorian Government fully evaluate the Victorian Department of Justice open source software (OSS) workstation trial to assess the potential for wider use of OSS in Victorian public service workstations.
     
  45. That the Victorian Government examine its policy for ICT Procurement to ensure that it continues to assist the Victorian ICT industry.
     
  46. That the Victorian Government ensure where appropriate that tenders are neither licence specific nor have proprietary software-specific requirements; and meet the given objectives of Government.

Come to think of it, there’s a whole book’s worth of deconstruction required!


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