APO News

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to be restored to full functioning

Great news from the budget that the Office of the Information Commissioner will not be closed and funding will be restored.

From the Attorney General tonight:

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

The Government has decided not to proceed with the new arrangements for privacy and Freedom of Information (FOI) regulation, including the proposed changes to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
Accordingly, the OAIC will receive ongoing funding of $37 million over four years to continue its privacy and FOI functions. FOI funding is provided on the basis of the streamlined approach to FOI reviews adopted by the OAIC since the 2014–15 Budget.

 

Details regarding the allocation to the Office are at  Page 261 of the Attorney General's Department Portfolio Budget Statement

 

Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17

Budget Related Paper No. 1.2

Attorney-General’s Portfolio

Pages 260-61

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

Section 1: Entity overview and resources

1.1     Strategic direction statement

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is an Australian Government entity established under the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010.

The functions of the OAIC include:

privacy functions—ensuring proper handling of personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 and other legislation

freedom of information (FOI) functions—protecting the public’s right of access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

In the 2014–15 Budget, the Australian Government announced that the OAIC would cease operation as part of its commitment to smaller government. New arrangements for privacy and FOI regulation were to commence from 1 January 2015, following passage of legislation to implement these changes. Funding transfers to the Australian Human Rights Commission and other agencies to facilitate these changed arrangements occurred as part of the 2014–15 Budget.

The government has decided not to proceed with these proposed changes and the OAIC will have ongoing responsibility for privacy and FOI regulation. Ongoing funding for these functions is provided in the 2016–17 Budget. FOI funding is provided on the basis of the streamlined approach to FOI reviews adopted by the OAIC since the 2014–15 Budget. Accordingly, funding provided to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in
2014–15 will remain with the tribunal on the basis that some matters may be considered by the tribunal, where the OAIC determines under section 54W(b) that it is in the interests of the administration of the FOI Act for this to occur.

In 2016–17 and the forward years, the OAIC will focus on its strategic goals of:

promoting and upholding information access rights

promoting and upholding information privacy rights

achieving organisational excellence by supporting and developing the OAIC’s people, systems and processes.

1.2     Entity resource statement

Table 1.1 shows the total funding from all sources available to the OAIC for its operations and to deliver programs and services on behalf of the government.

Table 1.1 is prepared on a resourcing (appropriations and cash available) basis, while the outcome expenses table in section 2 and the financial statements in section 3 are prepared on an accrual basis.

Table 1.1: Entity resource statement—Budget estimates for 2016–17 as at Budget May 2016

 

2015–16 Estimated actual
$’000

2016–17 Estimate
$’000

DEPARTMENTAL

 

 

Annual appropriations—ordinary annual services(a)

 

 

Prior year appropriations available

4,295

4,475

Departmental appropriation

9,328

10,622

s 74 retained revenue receipts(b)

3,153

3,777

Departmental capital budget(c)

20

Total net resourcing for entity

16,796

18,874

 

 

 

 

2015–16

2016–17

Average staffing level (number)

72

75

Prepared on a resourcing (appropriations and cash available) basis.

Note: All figures are GST exclusive and may not match figures in the cash flow statement.

(a) Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2016–17.

(b) Estimated retained revenue receipts under section 74 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

(c) Departmental capital budgets are not separately identified in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and form part of ordinary annual services items. See Table 3.5 for further details. For accounting purposes, this amount is designated as ‘contributions by owners’.

Thanks to Peter Timmins for this update

What's all the FORCE about? Conference report from FORCE 2016

Amanda Lawrence

Recently I had the priviledge of attending the FORCE11 conference 2016 in Portland, Oregon, (inspiration for the terrific comedy series Portlandia) supported by a conference Travel Fellowship. FORCE11, for those unfamiliar with the group, stands for Future of Research Communications and E-scholarship – but I admit it sounds like researchers dressing up and staging Star Wars re-enactments with the open access librarian rebels resisting the publishing storm troopers.

In fact FORCE 11 is a community of researchers, librarians, organisations, publishers, technology projects and companies, and various other parties that have come together over the last 5 or so years to advocate for, discuss and collaborate on new forms of scholarly communication. The group formed in 2011 (hence the 11) around the FORC Workshop held in Germany and has continued with the support of volunteer time and some in-kind administration support.

Like many similar groups, FORCE 11 is interested in open access to academic journals, however this is only one of the many challenges that need to be addressed if we are to have an efficient, effective and innovative research system. There are problems with the entire research process from the reproducibility of scientific experiments and the peer review process to the ability of researchers to communicate effectively about their results and the lack of reward mechanisms to do so. The solutions are many and varied, residing in new technologies, standards and practices on the one hand and changes to legal and policy settings, and institutional cultures on the other.

Changes to research practices and communication have been underway since the early 2000s but things are really starting to gain momentum in a significant way. As well as open access to journals we now have advocacy groups and policies encouraging open data, open educational resources, open science and even open government. There is now a bewildering number of projects, advocacy groups, government inquiries and other mechanisms established around the world to look at the these issues, with FORCE 11 being yet another one. A question immediately arises, how does this group differ from the numerous other groups active in the scholarly communication space and which ones should we be following? To be honest I’m not sure of the answer however at this point FORCE 11 distinguishes itself by its commitment to facilitate the discussion across all disciplines and sectors, without requiring financial investment (although organisations are encouraged to join the membership program). Given the amount of discussion and activity occurring across so many groups in so many countries, this is an important role.

Another distinction seems to be a commitment to go beyond national boundaries or even the Global North by making an effort to include participants and voices from around the world at the 2016 conference. The executive applied for and received support for travel fellowships for around 35 participants from diverse countries. I was fortunate to receive a fellowship to attend and was, I think, the only Australian at the conference (apart from Cameron Neylon, FORCE 11 president, who recently moved to Curtin University). It was great to be able to meet researchers and librarians from the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe as well as US, Canadian and European attendees. The active development and support for the networks required to transform scholarly communication at a global level are one of the most important benefits of the FORCE 11 group.

Force 2016 Travel Fellows (I am front row 4th from the left)

 

So what happened at FORCE 2016?

The event consisted of a day of workshops based around the working groups currently established by the FORCE 11 community, followed by 2 days of conference. The workshops reflect the three key interests of FORCE 11: technology, standards and systems, and the big picture - the overall ecosystem of scholarly research and communication. The technology focus covered semantic publishing and infrastructure, OpenRIF, open software, and data management amongst other things. The standards and practices workshops covered an open standard for annotations, innovations in curation, open peer review and organisation identifiers amongst other things. And the big picture workshops covered defining the Scholarly Commons, and defining the principles that underlie open standards for publishing and curation.

FORCE 11 has its origins in the sciences, particularly biology, so as a social scientist interested in research communication for public policy it was fascinating to hear about the issues around standards of publishing that are inhibiting reproducibility amongst other things and the work underway to improve this. Keynote speakers such as Cesar Hidalgo from MIT discussed the data, visualisations and tools available for predicting economic development while John Brownstein from Boston Children’s hospital gave an impressive, and at times scary, picture of how social media, blogs, local news and other platforms can provide public health surveillance and epidemic intelligence gathering. The poster and demo sessions also showed an extraordinary proliferation of tools and technologies for producing, accessing, managing and mining data and publications with software developers and metadata experts joining forces with discipline experts to find tailored solutions as well as large scale applications for the wider research community.

It was good to also hear about some of the complexities that exist outside of the laboratory when researchers working with Indigenous and community groups discussed the politics of openness for groups long exploited without consultation. On the other hand the discussion about research dissemination and uptake to the wider community sometimes lacked an understanding of the many audiences that might exist for both research data and results and the need to tailor communication to different groups – not only the general public but for practitioners, industry and business, government departments and agencies etc. – based on an understanding of what exactly these groups want from research and scholarly communication. There is also some way to go in acknowledging the amount of research produced outside of academia and how this is to be evaluated and managed alongside university-based research.

To sum up, it was an incredibly informative conference which has given me many ideas and a lot of homework. I had a number of conversations with people eager to do something about the ongoing issue of grey literature management, for public policy, international development and other areas and look forward to working with my new global network to do so. I also had many conversations with people for whom the world of research and publishing by government, NGOs, consultants and research centres was an unknown but interesting new area.

For anyone interested the FORCE11 website has plenty of information, and a discussion forum and groups that you can join or initiate a new group or follow them on Twitter @force11rescomm. Or get in touch with me directly (alawrence@swin.edu.au) or via Twitter @amandaslawrence to discuss what we can do from our corner of the world to improve the way research is practiced and communicated for public benefit.

 


 

Amanda Lawrence is Research and Strategy Manager at APO and has written and researched on grey literature,  public policy and digital libraries. More publications available here: http://apo.org.au/creator/amanda-lawrence

Make your own collection on APO

Feature your own issue

Did you know that you can also make mini-collections on Policy Online? 

For example, last year we began a mini-collection of research, commentary and audio about the Data retention policy debate in Australia.

To make your own collection, just register (at the top right hand corner) on this site then select 'tag this' on the right hand side of any content page that you would like to keep together. You can add a tag that means something to you alone, to your team at work, or to the world at large.

When you have tagged a few items with the same tag, click on the tag to see them in one place. The page will even have a URL that you can share with others.

And let us know if you are actively tagging if you'd like us to look out for material on that issue too.

ANDS DOI service expands to include grey literature

By Amanda Lawrence

In recent years the value of data has been increasingly recognised along with the need to make more of it accessible and better managed. The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) was set up by the federal government to improve the discovery, access and management of research data in Australia. One of the key services ANDS offers is to be the Australian organisation providing Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) issued by the international collaboration Datacite.

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) provide a stable address for online content via a resolving service which locates the content even if it has been moved to a new location (providing the details have been updated). The identifier also helps to link digital content to related content or information such as authors. DOIs have been used in journal publishing for some time and are now being applied to data sets, partly also to emphasise their legitimacy as a scholarly output on parr with articles.

So we have DOIs for journal articles and DOIs for data, but what about all the other valuable research content being published? Reasearch reports, working papers, technical reports, discussion papers, evaluations, surveys etc etc. Also known as grey literature. These resources are often forgotten in the discussion of how to improve scholarly communication and better manage research outputs. Despite their value and essential role in research and public policy grey literature publications such as reports and brefings lack sufficient recognition and reward in the academic system and therefore are often overlooked (see our research on this).

Here at APO we are of course highly aware of the value and impact of reports and other grey literature resources for research, policy and practice. We are also very aware of the need to find better ways to manage digital resources and improve their discovery and access. So we were thrilled to discover that Datacite could mint DOIs for grey literature and through an ANDS Major Open Collections Project grant to Swinburne University we implemented our own DOI minting service for full text resources and datasets in 2015.

This was pioneering stuff as there was little awareness that Datacite could mint DOIs for grey literature or that this could be as useful and important as DOIs for data. It has resulted in increased data and full text hosting on APO and allowed APO metadata to integrate with the researcher identification system ORCID (and visa versa). Its been an important step in the battle for increased recognition of the diverse publications and research outputs that count when it comes to public policy.

That battle just had a major win this week when ANDS Director, Dr Adrian Burton, announced that ANDS is expanding their DOI service to cover grey literature as well as research datasets and collections, associated workflows, software and models. As he states, "Extending the service to allow DOIs to be assigned to this type of material will fill a community need to persistently reference and cite these types of resources." This is a great decision for ANDS and for the research and policy community. According to ANDS the expansion was made in response to a request from the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). We appreciate the work done by CAUL to pursue this change of policy. We also take some quiet pride in being the first repository in Australia to lobby for and implement DOI minting for grey literature.

Our service has been running successfully for the past year and we encourage any organisation wishing to secure a DOI for a research output - grey literature or data - of relevance to public policy issues to add their resource to APO for hosting on APO and tick the box to request a DOI.

WIN a free conference pass - Akolade’s 5th Annual Australian Fraud Summit 2016

The sophistication of organised crime groups infiltrating companies has increased, making use of cyber channels to achieve their objectives. As the methodologies employed by fraudsters continue to increase in sophistication, organisations need to constantly stay ahead of the game and be continuously equipped to thwart and address incidences of fraud. Akolade’s 5th Annual Australian Fraud Summit 2016 brings together thought leaders in the public and private sectors to discuss new strategies in preventing, detecting and responding to fraud in an increasingly complex technological landscape.

Akolade is delighted to offer 1 free pass to a lucky Policy Online subscriber (worth $3299!) for the 2 day conference! To enter, simply fill out the form below and tell us briefly what winning this pass will mean for you. The winner will be announced on April 19, in the twice weekly briefing and via Policy Online's social media platforms .

Good luck!

WIN a free conference pass - National Public Sector EA&PA Summit

EAs and PAs play an integral role in the success of executives. With roles, responsibilities and expectations constantly evolving, it’s crucial for today’s EAs and PAs to stay ahead of the game, anticipate demands and be proactive.

Akolade’s National Public Sector EA&PA Summit is about enabling public sector EAs and PAs to take on new skills in order to meet high work demands. It will cover strategies to embrace your role and seize professional opportunities while maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Our friends at Akolade are delighted to offer 1 free pass to a lucky Policy Online reader (worth $2399!) for the 2 day conference! To enter, simply fill out the form below and tell us briefly what winning this pass will mean for you. The winner will be announced on Tuesday December 1 in the Policy Online briefing and via Policy Online's Social Media channels. Good luck! 

 

APO awarded grant for Linked Data Project Stage II

The Australian Research Council recently announced a round of grant funding for 2016 and APO is very pleased to have been awarded infrastructure funding to develop Stage II of our Linked Data capabilities. Linked Data PolicyHub Stage II: Urban and Regional Planning, Infrastructure and Communications will support researchers to access and analyse organised collections of diverse documents and datasets from the policy information ecosystem.

This is our largest grant to date and builds on the existing investments in open access knowledge infrastructure to develop key collections of policy documentation and data and new tools for problem solving and analysis. By enabling efficient universal access to historical and archived policy material the project aims to provide critical research infrastructure that supports innovative and applied approaches to Australian public policy research.

The Linked Data Stage II project (LDP II) brings together 11 investigators from 5 universities, Swinburne, RMIT, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, and two partner organisations, the Australian and New Zealand School of Government, and the Internet Archive, to develop linked, open access collections of resources to support policy related research. It aims to support the diverse and increasingly complex information needs of researchers working on a spectrum of intersecting problems comprising urban and regional infrastructure, planning, community development, sustainability, climate change, communications, access to information, public administration and social innovation. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of these fields, the project will also benefit researchers working in areas such as health, education, Indigenous issues, national security, economics, law and environmental science.

LDP II will support research in these and related areas by creating curated collections (PolicyHubs) of born-digital and digitised resources, providing linked, contextual metadata for understanding the relationships between resources, actors and organisations, and by developing the tools and functionality to support a range of traditional and emerging digital research methods. The open access knowledge infrastructure created will allow not only the CIs but researchers across the community to find, access, analyse and interrogate policy research and the wider policy context in new and innovative ways.

For more information on the project contact Amanda Lawrence, APO Research and Strategy Manager, alawrence@swin.edu.au.

New subscriber options - five weekly topical newsletters

The Policy Online Briefing email newsletter provides regular updates on the latest public policy research and resources from Australia and beyond. In the last year this newsletter has grown from a weekly to a twice-weekly service and the volume of new content continues to increase. As of 2 November 2015 we are offering five new Topical Weekly Briefings, which allow you to limit your service to the fields you are most interested in. 

Topics covered are:

Monday
Education & Training
Business & Economics

Wednesdays
Health & Wellbeing
Built & Natural Environments
Politics & Social Issues
 

To receive any of these newsletters, please update your subscription preferences at the footer of your Policy Online Briefing newsletter or

The service continues to be free.

Please note that content in these Topical Briefings will repeat content in the main bi-weekly Policy Online Briefing newsletter which arrives on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. So be aware that if you subscribe to the topical briefings as well as the main briefing, you will receive most content twice.

You can provide feedback about the way the service works for you here >  And if you love the service please let us know what you find most useful and we might add you to our comments page

Finally, if you work for an organisation that is well served by Policy Online or if you know that you and your colleagues rely on our regular updates, please also consider becoming an Policy Online Member.  There is much more information about the benefits of

WIN a free conference pass to the Democracy in Transition conference

 

 

 

 

 

Citizens are disengaged. Western liberal democracy is retreating. Progress on instituting democratic rights has stalled. This is the current environment. But, is there anything can we do about it?

The Democracy in Transition conference goes beyond the challenges to present new insights, collaborative solutions, and the opportunity to proactively develop the discussion on the future of democracy. Hosted by The Melbourne School of Government, a bold new school that brings together Business & Economics, Law, and Arts, the conference is limited to just 200 participants.

With over 70 speakers including: The Honorable Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, leader of the resistance struggle for self-determination and the liberation of the East Timorese people, Sam McLean, the former National Director of GetUp!, and Mukulika Banerjee, Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics and the Inaugural Director of the LSE South Asia Centre. 

For a limited time, Melbourne School of Government is offering a free conference pass to one lucky Policy Online subscriber. To enter, simply fill out the form below by Tuesday October 20. The winner will be announced in the Policy Online briefing, as well as on our Social Media channels on Thursday October 22. Good Luck!

Policy Online readers can also receive an additional 10% discount off the conference price. Please email Claire Tanner at tanner.c@unimelb.edu.au