Saturday, July 17, 2010

Australian Government makes Open Government Declaration

In one of his final acts before retirement, Minister Lindsay Tanner has released the Open Government Declaration - one of the recommendations of the Gov 2.0 Taskforce's Final Report.

Released at the AGIMO blog, the Declaration states that the Australian Government is:

committed to open government based on a culture of engagement, built on better access to and use of government held information, and sustained by the innovative use of technology.

Three key principles were outlined,
  • Informing: strengthening citizen’s rights of access to information, establishing a pro-disclosure culture across Australian Government agencies including through online innovation, and making government information more accessible and usable;
  • Engaging: collaborating with citizens on policy and service delivery to enhance the processes of government and improve the outcomes sought; and
  • Participating: making government more consultative and participative.

I'm very pleased to see this step, albeit released by a senior cabinet Minister rather than the Prime Minister.

However I am disappointed that Minister Tanner is leaving politics and will not be able to lead the ongoing implementation of the Open Government agenda.

With Minister Faulkner, who spearheaded the recent Freedom of Information reforms, also stepping down from a Ministerial role, there is a great deal of interest in understanding who will be advocating for and leading the Gov 2.0 agenda in the Australian Government.

While Senator Kate Lundy is a leader in the Gov 2.0 space, she does not currently hold a Ministerial position and it is unclear whether she would in a future Labor government.

If the Liberals win the upcoming election it is very unclear who would take the lead on Government 2.0

Significant cultural change is required across the public sector to embed Government 2.0 in standard practice and to carry out many of the other recommended reforms in the Australian Public Service.

Given it is very early days as yet, senior political leadership is required to drive the necessary reforms.

My question is who, after this Federal election, will provide the political leadership and support for these reforms (particularly those related to Gov 2.0)?

Or will they be placed on the backburner ahead of more immediate political issues, leaving the Australian Public Service progressively unable to deliver community services or factual, frank and fearless advice to its government masters?

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