[LINK] Canberra moves a step closer to e-government

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Tue May 4 09:16:11 AEST 2010

Canberra moves a step closer to e-government
Andrew Colley
The Australian
May 04, 2010

The federal government has moved a step closer to its aim of using web 
technology to promote transparent administration, but the Coalition has 
labelled the effort as just "blah, bureaucracy and boffin-speak".

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig 
yesterday announced that the government had accepted most of the 
findings of its Government 2.0 taskforce.

The taskforce, which reported its findings to the government in 
December, was established to come up with ways to use the internet to 
make public service information more readily available and promote 
stronger engagement between government and citizens.

Of the 13 recommendations the government only challenged a handful.

In response to the taskforce's report the government has decided to make 
the Finance Department the lead agency for the program of works flowing 
from Government 2.0 and hinged much of its success on the establishment 
of an Office of the Information Commissioner.

It has also agreed to recommendations on licensing for public sector 
information and a major new government website, data.gov.au, to 
facilitate access to it. It also agreed to establish a new public 
consultation blog.

ACT Labor senator Kate Lundy, who has taken a keen interest in the 
project, said the response was very positive.

"The vast majority of the recommendations have been agreed to and I 
think that shows more than anything else that the political leadership 
for the Gov 2.0 agenda is real, and this does put in place some very 
tangible steps forward," Senator Lundy said.

However, shadow special minister of state Michael Ronaldson said the 
opposition supported cross-government standardisation but the Government 
2.0 project risked creating and entrenching a new federal bureaucracy.

"The simple fact is that too much of this response is just blah, 
bureaucracy and boffin-speak," Senator Ronaldson said.

"Statements of principles about openness and transparency are fine but, 
as we have seen with the changes to FOI, it does not really matter 
unless ministers and public servants are willing to support those changes.

"Another concern we have with this report is the creation and 
entrenchment of a new federal bureaucracy. It is a world of 
inter-departmental committees and working groups -- and anyone in 
Canberra knows that is a recipe for inaction.

"In one recommendation, which was agreed to by the government, there 
will be public servants issuing reports, which evaluate departmental 
reports on how those departments report information in their 
departmental reports. That is just classic Yes, Minister stuff!"

The introduction of the Government 2.0 measures is still at least 18 
months away.

The government plans to start deploying its Government 2.0 strategy on 
the advice of the Information Commissioner.

The new commissioner will be given a year to come up with recommendations.

However, the appointment of the commissioner relies on the successful 
passage through the Senate of the federal government's freedom of 
information reform bills.

A spokesman for Senator Ludwig said the government was hoping to push 
its bills through in the June-May sittings of the Senate, but it is 
understood that would require giving them priority in a lengthening 
queue of legislation.

Even if the bills were passed, it would be six months before an 
information commissioner could be appointed.



Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

More information about the Link mailing list