Statement of Principles to support proactive disclosure of government-held information

Statement of principles by the  Australian information commissioners and ombudsmen: “Information commissioners and ombudsmen across Australia oversight and promote citizens’ rights to access government-held information and have powers to review agency decisions under the applicable right to information (RTI) legislation. Beyond formal rights of access, the proactive disclosure of government-held information promotes open government and advances our system of representative democracy.

All Australian governments (Commonwealth, state, territory, and local) and public institutions are strongly encouraged to commit to being Open by Design by building a culture of transparency and by prioritising, promoting and resourcing proactive disclosure.

These Principles recognise that:

  1. information held by government and public institutions is a public resource and, to the greatest extent possible, should be published promptly and proactively at the lowest reasonable cost, without the need for a formal access request, and
  2. a culture of transparency within government is everyone’s responsibility requiring action by all public sector leaders and officers to encourage and support the proactive disclosure of information, and
  3. appropriate, prompt and proactive disclosure of government-held information:
  • informs community – proactive disclosure leads to a more informed community, and awareness raising of government and public institutions’ strategic intentions and initiatives, driving innovation and improving standards. Transparent and coherent public communication can also address misinformation
  • increases participation and enhances decision-making – proactive disclosure increases citizen participation in government processes and promotes better informed decision-making through increased scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of government and public institutions’ decisions
  • builds trust and confidence – proactive disclosure enhances public sector accountability and integrity, builds public trust and confidence in decision-making by government and public institutions and strengthens principles of liberal democracy
  • improves service delivery – proactive disclosure improves service delivery by providing access to information faster and more easily than formal access regimes, providing the opportunity to decide when and how information is provided, and to contextualise and explain information
  • is required or permitted by law – proactive disclosure is mandated, permitted, or protected by law in all Australian states and territories and the Commonwealth
  • improves efficiency – proactive disclosure reduces the administrative burden on departments and agencies and the need for citizens to make a formal information access request.

 Australian information commissioners and ombudsmen recommend that public sector agencies:

  1. Embed a proactive disclosure culture in all public sector agencies and public institutions by…(More)”.