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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Federal public servants urged to get on board for openness and transparency

Special Minister of State Faulkner did get that letter off last week to Federal Government public service bosses, and he did urge them to get on board with Government policy on access to information now, not to just sit there awaiting new Freedom of Information legislation:
"These reforms, although important, will not deliver the openness and transparency so essential to accountability and to a robust democracy, unless FOI decision-makers embrace the disposition towards disclosure which informs the FOI Act reforms. In anticipation of these reforms, the Government is asking secretaries and agency heads to take a lead role in facilitating the Government’s policy objective of enhancing a culture of disclosure across agencies. This includes making it clear to FOI decision makers in your department or agency that the starting point for considering FOI requests should be a presumption in favour of giving access to documents."
But as in all things, balance:
"Senator Faulkner said that not all documents could or should be released under the FOI Act and there will always be some which should properly be exempt under the FOI Act.But as the letter states: “The challenge in reforming FOI laws, is to extend access to government documents as far as possible without jeopardising the confidentiality of material that is genuinely confidential to government."

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