Tom Worthington
Sat, 19 Oct 1996 16:43:26 +1000

At 04:15 PM 18/10/96 +1000, Eric Wainwright wrote:

>The final draft of 'Management of Government Information as a National 
>Strategic Resource':

Some preliminary comments:

* The report recommends using the Internet to make Government information
available at no charge to the public and for responses from the public. The
ACS made submissions to Government and parliament on this in 1994
<> and in large
part the IMSC report follows the ACS's proposals,
* The committee is to be congratulated for leading by example in releasing
its report on-line as well as on paper and including links in the on-line
* The report is to the GISPB, however this body has been abolished and
replaced by one with business people, as well as bureaucrats. Will the new
body know what to do with the report? Why aren't there any community
representatives, as well as business and government on this new body?
* One issue which causes concern is equity and access. On-line access is
only "free" if you already have the necessary equipment and network
connection. Several community access projects from the previous federal
Government have been terminated (such as CIN) and election promises for new
funding not honored by the new Government (such as only $2.2M for library
access, not the $11.4M promised). Without some form of community access,
Government Internet use will increase information inequity and frustrate
possible efficiencies in Government business.
* One item overlooked in the report is the need for training Government
people (public servants and ministers) in on-line working. It takes time and
effort to learn and also some courage.
* The report formalizes the approach developed at the working level by an
informal consortium of academia, industry and Government people, which I
have previously referred to in talks as the "Internet conspiracy"
<>. While perhaps an official
Government document can't acknowledge this process, it is important to
understand how such developments occur. In particular the contribution of
some individuals and groups should be acknowledged:

- Roger Clarke: For addressing the public policy issues at a national level,
- Ian Barndt: for forming the CIRG, to provide an official but flexible
forum for pioneering implementation and policy in Australian Government,
- Tony Barry: for creating an unofficial Government home page to embarrass
Government into creating an official one,
- Peter Talty: for setting up the ACS's Internet infrastructure and as a
byproduct providing a way to transfer academic expertise to Government and
- Members of the Link mailing list: who in 1993-94 helped write the policy
the IMSC is now proposing to implement,
- ACS members: Thousands of whom spent their time and money on learning to
use Internet and are now supporting its implementation across Australia, for
the benefit of the community.

Yesterday the Steering Committee of the Discipline Research Strategy for
Information Technology met to consider how to restructure IT R&D in
Australia <>. The
IMSC's report provides menu of new research topics, which could produce
products and services to improve Australian Government and provide a
valuable export industry.

In November I will be meeting with the Presidents of national IT societies
in the UK <> to
discuss the global implications of electronic operations. The IMSC report
will be useful in showing issues and responses from and Australian perspective.

Please note these comments are made as President of the ACS, but I was the
Defence nominee on the IMSC Technical Group some of whose technical
recommendations <> form
part of the IMSC report.

Tom Worthington <> President, Australian Computer
Society, GPO Box 446, Canberra ACT 2601,
Fax: +61 6 2496419
CFP: INTERACT97, Sydney, 14-18 July