On 1 March 2011, Senator Kate Lundy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Citizenship, spoke at the Citizen Centric Service Delivery 2011, Canberra on the topic ‘Citizen-centric services: A necessary principle for achieving genuine open government’.
Senator Lundy opened her speech with the meaning of Open Government, which relates to “accessible and transparent data, the extent government engages with citizens in decision making and accessibility of government itself.” With that in mind, she focused her speech on the “three pillars of Open Government”: Citizen-Centric services, Democratizing Data and Participatory Government.
In terms of Citizen-Centric services, Senator Lundy envisioned central and tailored data services for the public, such as mash-ups utilising interoperable data. She cited existing initiatives such as Australia.gov.au and Centrelink’s online profile management system (among others) as good examples of information management.
According to Senator Lundy, the next pillar of open government, Democratising Data, is about “recognising that government data is a public resource”. She emphasised that it is about “ensuring that at the point of creation, government data is assumed to be destined for public release, unless there is a specific reason not to.” This means from creation:
- data should have a permissible copyright license such as Creative Commons,
- data should be stored in an open data format such that it is not locked into a specific product or technology,
- data should be machine readable so that people can create applications that can use the data for new services or analysis,
- there should be a strategy for whether and how to keep the data set up to date, and how updates should be published,
- data should include useful metadata such as date of creation, author, any geospatial information, keywords, to ensure the data is able to be re-purposed on other ways such as by plotting the data on a map.
She pointed out that many government documents and cultural assets have already been released under a Creative Commons licence, including the Federal Budget under a CC BY licence – a world first of which they were proud of.
The third and final pillar, Participatory Democracy, is about “engaging citizens collaboratively in the development, design and implementation of government policy”, which in today’s networked environment includes making the most of the web and social networking to do so.
In concluding her speech, Senator Lundy urged conference participants to take the initiative and collaborate with peers throughout government. She emphasised that “we will only achieve true citizen-centric services if collaboration between agencies and departments is the reality.”
The transcript of Senator Lundy’s speech is available at katelundy.com.au.
Credits—Photo: Adaptation (crop and resize) of ‘ Senator Kate Lundy talking about Gov2.0 at SFD Melbourne‘ by Chris Samuel, CC BY 2.0 Generic.