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Friday, December 13, 2019

Government quick to hose down Thodey call for FOI reform

Analysis of the Thodey report on the APS and the government response released today will take time  but I thumbed my way quickly to Chapter 4 "Partner for Greater Impact" Page 114 which lays out the path toward a new open engaged public service that is more partner than commander.

I'd like to see that.

The report continues:
"To accompany the new approach to engagement it is timely to examine the suite of privacy, FOI and record-keeping rules and regulations to ensure they are fit for purpose for the digital age, now and into the future, with an emphasis on openness. As a general principle, it should be as simple, fast and cheap as possible for interested parties to access information held and generated by the APS."
I'd like to see that also because the government in December 2016 committed to ensure that information access laws, policies and practices are fit for the twenty first century, and three years later has nothing to show for it.

Remarkably the one point of detail that follows in the report is a plea for more confidentiality for public service advice.

There's no attempt at detailed examination of the issue, simply acceptance that 'the Commonwealth FOI laws now present a significant barrier to frank written advice" followed by a suggestion of 'critical' importance that written advice 'remain confidential.' Presumably this would be achieved by ditching the public interest test that has been part of the FOI act for 37 years.

The APS Review delivered 40 recommendations and the Government agrees with the majority of them

But on this one the government response,seems to be a big yawn:
"The Government notes the proposal for a new wide-ranging review of privacy, FOI and record-keeping arrangements. The Government’s principal focus is to ensure that agencies effectively implement current requirements, addressing practical problems where required. Any further reform to these arrangements would be considered separately to the Government’s response to the APS Review.
Posted in haste.

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