The new Minister, who will be announced later today, will be responsible for taking forward the government’s open government, open data and spatial initiatives, with the goal of ensuring that Australia becomes known as the most open and transparent nation in the world, driving government accountability, improved public engagement, economic activity through data and making it harder for inaccurate data to be ‘spun’ in traditional or new media.
The new Minister will lead a newly formed agency, probably to be called the Department of Openness, Innovation and Transparency (DOIT).
This department will be formed from the CTO-led section of AGIMO (explaining the recent separation of CIO and CTO), the Office of Spatial Policy and sections of the Department of Innovation focused on public sector innovation, particularly DesignGov.
The new department will also oversee the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
DOIT will have a mandate to ensure other commonwealth agencies develop and implement open data and Gov 2.0 plans under a ‘Digital First’ strategy, similar to the UK’s ‘Digital by Default‘ approach.
Under this mandate the department will take on the role of maintaining whole of government standards for social media engagement, mobile app development, accessibility and open copyright, as well as sophisticated searchable (topic/agency/use) registers for all mobile apps, social media channels and Gov 2.0 tools created by commonwealth agencies (more expansive than the lists in Australia.gov.au).
The department will be responsible for developing, managing and maintaining whole-of-government web services, including existing GovSpace, GovDex and Data.gov.au sites, as well as creating new services, which may include an Australian equivalent of Challenge.gov, an epetitions site, a ‘govforge’ site for sharing and reusing code across agencies and a whole-of-government FOI site as a central repository containing all agency releases.
The new department will also take responsibility under the APS200 for unlocking Australia’s geospatial data and finalising the development of an open source ‘mymaps’ system, which will form the basis for the public release of all future public sector map information – a universal base map and WebGIS system that every agency will use.
The new Minister and Department were to be announced in February, however this was delayed due to budgetary considerations and political distractions (such as leadership speculation).
The announcement of the Minister will occur later today (Monday 1 April 2013), with the news that Australia is joining the Open Government Partnership, relaunching data.gov.au using CKAN and creating the pilot.australia.gov.au site (not yet live) as a visionary testbed to demonstrate how modern technologies can transform how government agencies design and manage websites.
So who will be the Minister responsible for this new Department?
Now that would be telling, but I’ve sure you can all guess… that today was 1st April, and this is an April Fools prank.