Australian Freedom of Information Commissioners and Ombudsmen today issued an authoritative statement to promote the proactive dissemination of information.
The Openness by Design Principles were released ahead of International Access to Information Day on September 28 and should be used by government agencies to encourage and allow proactive information dissemination and promote open government.
Citizens across Australia experience inconsistent levels of access to valuable and important government information. This is particularly evident in the differences in proactive information disclosure between jurisdictions.
Proactive disclosure of information held by government promotes open government and advances our system of representative democracy. The principles aim to advance integrity in government and provide easy access to information important to citizens and the digital economy.
The Open by Design principles were informed by citizen surveys which identified important information for citizens. The principles recognize that:
- information held by government and public institutions is a public resource
- a culture of transparency in government is everyone’s responsibility
- appropriate, prompt and proactive disclosure of information held by the government:
- inform the community
- increases participation and improves decision making
- builds confidence and confidence
- improves service delivery
- is required or permitted by law
- improves efficiency.
All Australian governments – Commonwealth, State and Territory, and local – and public institutions are strongly encouraged to commit to being open by design by creating a culture of transparency and prioritizing, promoting and funding disclosure proactive. In their joint statement, the information commissioners and ombudsmen recommend that public sector agencies:
- Embed a culture of proactive disclosure in all public sector agencies and public institutions
- Implement an open approach from the design stage of best practices in proactive disclosure
- Engage with the Australian community on what information is most valuable and of most interest to them
- Take a customer service approach to proactive information disclosure.
Read the full recommendations in the joint statement.
Ahead of International Freedom of Information Day, Australian Commissioners and Ombudsmen have also released a new video resource for consumers to raise awareness of access rights.