Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dear Dr Hawke (3)

Just one submission in the in-tray with two days to go until the 7 December deadline. (Make that four as at midday on the 6th)

Disappointing so far, but I know there will be more-Rick Snell copied me into his, and that's sure to be up in lights soon. You won't be too tough regarding late entries I hope.

Australian Information Commissioner McMillan provided food for thought in his address last week to the corporate lawyers - Thirty years of the FOI Act- Service, Overhaul or Refit.

I'm for new chasis and engine although some existing parts could work. That would involve a lot of territory in the next few months-more like a job for the ALRC, but they're skinny on resources these days. And of course all that work that went into advising the government in Secrecy laws and open government has been lying around somewhere in Canberra gathering dust for the last three years, along with quite a few recommendations that go back to their 1995 Open Government report that have rarely been mentioned since and were ignored in 2010.

They are a small resilient crowd at the ALRC but even their spirits may have flagged.

So overhaul might be all you can manage in the time but that was part of the problem last time in 2009-2010- new bits on old bones that are weary and showing their age.

Anyway, a submission on such broad ranging topics as the operation of the Freedom of information Act and the OAIC takes a bit of doing. Particularly in the absence of guidance in the form of an issues paper or statement from you on what might be useful. I'm working on it-with distractions like this....

And of course apart from those in government agencies, only rusted on aficionados out here know about the review. There were a couple of brief references in the media, but otherwise only those that stumble across the reference on the Attorney General's Department website (fourth item in the fourth box on the right) or notice it listed as a "Hot Topic" on the OAIC website will know you are on the job and interested in their thinking.

No other government agencies-the ones that deal with those 25000 requests a year-appear to have brought your review to the attention of those that visit their websites. Wonder if they're mentioning it to FOI applicants or with an eye to being helpful to you on the effectiveness front, undertaking a survey or inviting comment from users on the FOI experience? If so, that might be a 30 year first.

In case you're looking to fill in before that in-tray fills, hopefully to overflowing, some useful reading from recent papers includes:
Measuring Openness by Sheila S Coronel.
Comments on that paper by Helen Darbishire and Toby Mendel and Coronel's response
Transparency in Troubled Times by Alasdair Roberts
The UK Government response to the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee (pdf) review of the FOI act.

Enough-back to work on the submission.


No comments:

Post a Comment