Wednesday, June 25, 2008

OpenGovernment now in Australia - something all public servants should be aware of

Regardless of how egovernment progresses, Australian citizens are moving forward to create the tools they want online.

The latest example is is a site named Open Australia.

Built based on the UK site They Work For You and the New Zealand site of the same name -, Open Australia feaures a fully searchable record of Hansard, provides MP voting records and details of their appearances in parliament and allows people to receive a notification whenever their MP speaks. has rated this as "Quite possibly the best thing to happen online for democracy in Australia this year"

At the moment the site is focused on the House of Representatives, which means I cannot get a notification on all speeches by my Department's Minister, who is a Senator.

However I can track all mentions of him in speeches with a simple search (to the extent of being able to see which other parliamentarians named him) and have these delivered to my newsreader via RSS.

This type of site significantly lowers the barriers to accessing information on the activities and decisions of parliamentarians, which also impacts on the public servants in their departments, particularly those formulating policy.

The volunteers who built and manage the site are working towards including the Senate, Committees and voting records as well.

This type of site is designed to foster greater participation and accountability amongst politicians and it will be interesting to see what impact it has over time.

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