IPC publishes the Agency Information Guide Review Report

On 29 June 2018, Elizabeth Tydd (NSW Information Commissioner and Open Data Advocate) published the Agency Information Guide Review Report of the ten principal departments and the IPC, with the results demonstrating significant improvements in compliance levels by NSW principal departments.

Agency Information Guides (AIG) are published in accordance with section 20 of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) and act as a key mechanism in making government information accessible, promoting the currency of government information and its appropriate release. Importantly, AIG’s also support public participation and the management of government information as a strategic asset.

The findings of the Review are:

  • 80% (eight) of principal department AIGs had been updated within the last two years, a significant increase from 40% (four) in 2016
  • only 20% (two) principal department AIGs did not include a date indicating when they were last updated compared to 50% (five) of principal department AIGs in 2016
  • 100% of principal departments and the IPC contained a statement that expresses a commitment to public participation. This is a significant improvement from the 2016 Review, where only six AIGs contained this feature.
  • 100% of the principal departments’ AIGs included an articulation of the arrangements that are in place to promote public participation, up from 60% (six) in the 2016 review. The IPC’s AIG also included this requirement. Specifically:
      • 90% (nine) of principal departments (up from 50% (five) in 2016) specifically mentioned feedback channels, usually by including an email address that could be used to provide feedback or online feedback forms
      • 70% (seven) mentioned digital channels in 2018, compared to 50% (five) in 2018
      • calling for submissions was included  by 60% (six) of the principal departments in 2018 compared to 10% (one) in 2016
      • 50% (five) of principal departments mentioned Have Your Say in 2018, rising from 10% (one) in 2016
      • 40% (four) of principal departments referred to the use of consultative committees, compared to 10% (one) in 2016
      • 20% (two) of principal departments referred to the use of expert panels, a small increase from 10% (one) in 2016.

According to Ms Tydd, “Pleasingly, the number of suggested public participation mechanisms mentioned in individual AIGs demonstrated that compliance by principal departments with their legislative obligations under section 20(1)(c) has significantly increased since the 2016 Review.

“The significant improvements in AIG compliance found by this Review demonstrate the effectiveness of the IPC’s regulatory approach and the preparedness of principal departments to work co-operatively with the IPC to improve compliance.

“Today’s report follows my recent release of the IPC’s Charter for Public Participation - a guide to assist agencies and promote citizen engagement.

"Agency Information Guides are a key enabler of public participation and support the sector's commitment to Open Government and efforts to contribute to Australia’s commitment under the Open Government Partnership to enhance public participation in government decision-making,” Ms Tydd said.