Government agencies should be open by design, not just by request

Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner

Today the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) published new research on freedom of information (FOI) culture in Victoria and the importance of proactive and informal release of information.

The report on FOI culture in Victoriabuilds on previous researchand is the second part of a research study conducted by Monash University in collaboration with OVIC. It captures the culture of administering theFreedom of InformationAct1982(Vic) (the FOI Act) and the Victorian information access system overall.

OVIC also commissioned Decision Design, a behavioural science consultancy, to produce a report on proactive and informal release of information. With a focus on creating behavioural change, it contains a suite of practical actions OVIC can take to support greater proactive and informal release of information among Victorian agencies.

“The release of documents under the FOI Act is not the only way that governments can share information with the public” said Information Commissioner Sven Bluemmel. “Governments can also get on the front foot and proactively release information, without the need for individuals to first make an FOI request.”

OVIC strongly encourages all agencies to adopt policies and systems that facilitate the release of information proactively and informally. Proactive transparency will help to build public trust, which will assist governments to address complex policy issues and improve service delivery.

OVIC has published a paper summarising key findings from both reports and outlining the actions OVIC will undertake to encourage proactive and informal release in Victorian agencies.

“It is in the interests of Victorian agencies to move to a culture that is open by design rather than just by request” said Mr Bluemmel.

“Proactive and informal release is more efficient than processing requests under the FOI Act. This makes it easier for government to do its job, and results in faster and more cost-effective access to information for members of the public.”

OVIC will build on its existing education and training activities, drive greater stakeholder engagement, and continue to promote proactive and informal release across the Victorian public sector over the next 12-18 months.

OVIC is celebratingInternational Access to Information Dayfrom 27 September – 1 October to raise awareness of the importance ofopen government, and the public’s right to access government-held information.

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