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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

What's the problem: why not close to real time disclosure for accountability purposes?

With all the talk and welcome enthusiasm in open government circles concerning public release of government data sets, governments, including the legislative branches are yet to fully embrace timely, searchable publication on the internet of information that goes to accountability.

Some quick examples off the top of my head. I'm sure deeper digging would see the list multiply many times over.

Voters go to elections without knowing who has funded campaigns, and at other times have no idea for close to two years who may have kicked the can. Federal election disclosure returns are made available for public inspection 24 weeks after polling day on this website. Annual disclosure returns are similarly made available for public inspection from the first working day in February, ie seven months since the end of the reporting period, and 19 months since any donation made at the commencement of the period. With some variations its the same in the states. Why not continuous on line and easily searchable disclosure close to real time?

NSW joined Queensland and the ACT from 1 July in the publication of ministerial diaries.Its far from universal practice however. Queensland diaries are published monthly at the end of the following month. NSW returns are required quarterly with ministers given a month at the end of the quarter to complete the paperwork. Publication on the Premier's Department website will occur up to four months after the contact. Why not continuous disclosure, searchable across all ministers, close to real time?

(The original post also referred to the failure just about everywhere to provide comprehensive single site searchable information close to real time about parliamentarians entitlements, and up to date searchable information contained in the register of interests. In removing a gremlin I've lost the text!!)

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