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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

NSW budget squeeze to tighten information??

The NSW treasurer's order of the day to agencies in the 2012-13 budget handed down yesterday was to live with an annual 1.2% "labour expense cap" over four years expected to lead to 10,000 job cuts, and to "rein in expenses" so await with interest to see what this does to resources across the public sector devoted to information access and privacy protection. Less spin, more information perhaps....

The Office of Information and Privacy Commission (Budget Paper No 3 Attorney General and Justice, page 2-28) will remain on tight rations: $5.406 million available for operating costs and $150k for capital expenditure in 2012-13 compared to the revised allocation of $5.503 million and $366k in 2011-12.

Service measures listed for the office are straight output numbers-undertake 350 reviews, investigate 100 complaints, handle 435 formal privacy matters - and in anticipation, expect 280k website hits. Outcomes don't rate a mention and there are no published quality or efficiency measures or indicators.

Hopefully Ross Gittins of the SMH will repeat his federal budget performance, testing the treasurer's claim that this government "has restored openness and transparency to the Budget." Plenty of sceptics out there on that one, pondering the treasurer's observation that leaving the detail of program cuts of over $1 billion to portfolio ministers and agencies is  "normal" practice.

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