Information Publication Scheme
Australian Government agencies are now required to publish a broad range of information on their websites as part of an Information Publication Scheme (IPS) required under new freedom of information laws. Australian Information Commissioner, Professor John McMillan said that publication of government information can enhance participatory democracy by assisting the public to better understand how government makes decisions and administers programs.
"A better informed community can participate more effectively in government processes, and contribute to better policy and decisions. Transparency in government also means people are less likely to be disadvantaged in their dealings with government through lack of knowledge or a misunderstanding of government processes," he said.
Agencies are now required to publish ten categories of information, including information about the agency's structure, functions and statutory appointments. Agencies must also publish 'operational information' that guides decisions affecting members of the public as well as information about how the public can comment on policy proposals. Each agency is required to publish a plan showing how it proposes to meet the requirements of the IPS, and must ensure that information published is accurate, up to date and complete.
Many agencies have included an icon on their website to alert members of the public to where they can access information published under the IPS.
Australia's FOI Commissioner, Dr James Popple, noted that the new laws require Australian Government agencies and ministers to publish information that has been released in response to a freedom of information (FOI) access request. This information, known as a 'disclosure log' must be published within ten working days of giving the FOI applicant access to the information. For more information about the IPS and disclosure log requirements, see www.oaic.gov.au.