Under the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Act 2010 all Commonwealth agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), including the Department of Human Services, are required to have an Information Publication Scheme (IPS) plan.
Our department is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) and is required to comply with the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) requirements. This agency plan describes how we—as a department—propose to do this, as required by s 8(1) of the FOI Act.
The department delivers Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support and CRS Australia payments and services, including family assistance—supporting people through the different stages of their lives.
This plan describes how we propose to implement and administer the IPS requirements by addressing:
- the establishment and administration of our department's IPS entry
- information architecture
- information required to be published
- other information to be published
The purpose of our IPS plan is to outline how the department will comply with section 8(1) of the FOI Act. It provides, through agency-driven disclosures, a framework to enable easy access to information for customers.
The IPS plan will set out the proposed arrangements as to how and when we will, over time, make available operational material and other optional information in a manner that is easy to obtain, including electronically.
The objectives of this plan are to:
- assist customers of our department to understand decision-making processes
- promote input into service delivery reform (including online uptake)
- align with the objects of the FOI Act generally, by making available certain data sets and the ability for the public to request departmental data
- manage the IPS information holdings
- continue to identify all information required to be published, ensuring it is accessible to the public under s 8(2)
- continue to identify optional information that the public may wish to access under s 8(4)
- regularly review information under the IPS to ensure it is accurate, up to date and complete under s 8B
- ensure that, as operational information is updated internally, a copy is available on the internet
- monitor the number of customer requests, timeliness of responses and customer feedback to measure the success of our IPS contribution
- abide by relevant Office of the Australian Information Commissioner guidelines, and monitor and adopt other Commonwealth agencies' better practices as appropriate
- align with the objects of the FOI Act by making our decision-making documents available where possible
- promote and hold ourselves accountable for decisions relating to benefits and services provided to customers
The National Manager of the Ombudsman, Privacy and Freedom of Information Branch (OPFOI) is responsible for leading our compliance with the IPS.
The National Manager OPFOI is supported by and reports to the Chief Counsel, Legal Services Division, and through the Deputy Secretary, Enabling Services to our department's Secretary.
Establishing and administering our IPS entry
(a) Establishing our IPS contribution
To prepare the IPS information register, the IPS Team continue to review the Australian Information Commissioner's guidelines to determine whether documents held by our department fall within the definition of operational documents.
The Department of Human Services is developing a new system that will automate the publication of operational information directly to the department's website for direct download by the public. Whilst this system is being developed, the department will publish a list of operational information that will be available on request. This list is currently being prepared for publication and will be available in the coming days.
(b) Administering our information asset management framework
Progressing our IPS
Our vision is to move toward one repository to hold operational information. Information contained in the repository will explain how we deliver services. It will also hold reference material to support staff delivering those services. It will contain all service delivery operating procedures in simple, clear language that can be accessed and understood by staff, Australians and stakeholders. It will allow for greater transparency and rigor when making service delivery decisions. This will give greater assurance that we can deliver our responsibilities effectively. It is envisaged that as operational information is updated internally, this will automatically be reflected externally. The repository is in early planning stages and timelines are yet to be determined. It is expected that this will take a number of years to implement.
Each branch of the department will be responsible as required, for day to day tasks associated with complying with the IPS. For example, a branch head is required to identify all operational information within their branch and endorse information to be published.
IPS documents are available upon request from:
- by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- by mail: Freedom of Information, PO Box 7820, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610
We may charge a person for accessing any IPS document which is impracticable to publish online:
- at the lowest reasonable cost
- to reimburse the department for specific reproduction costs or other specific incidental costs (s 8D(4))
Any charges imposed will be consistent with charges in the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982 (which generally apply to access requests under Part III of the FOI Act).
IPS information architecture
The IPS entry will be published in the Information Publication Scheme section on our website under the following headings:
- Agency plan (ss 8(2)(a)
- Who we are (ss 8(2)(b) and 8(2)(d))
- What we do (ss 8(2)(c) and 8(2)(j))
- Our reports and responses to Parliament (ss 8(2)(e) and 8(2)(h))
- Routinely requested information and FOI disclosure log (ss 8(2)(g) and 11C)
- Consultation (s 8(2)(f))
- Contact details (s 8(2)(i))
- Our priorities (s 8(4))
- Our finances (s 8(4))
- Our lists (s 8(4))
To ensure that our IPS entry is (and individual IPS documents are) easily discoverable, understandable and machine readable, we have:
- published an IPS icon on the Freedom of Information page of our website, which links to the IPS section of the website
- wherever possible, provided online content in a format that can be searched, copied and transformed
- updated the sitemap on our website, to help individuals identify the location of information published under ss 8(2) and 8(4)
- included an alphabetical search function on our website to assist members of the public to find documents in each of our programs.
- planned to provide, during 2013, an alert service to notify subscribers of new publications on our disclosure log
Information required to be published under the IPS
We will publish documents required to be published under the IPS (s 8(2)) in the IPS section of our website.
Operational information is updated on a quarterly basis. An archive facility of previous versions is available.
Who we are
- This will include an organisation chart and contact details of how to contact us
What we do
- This outlines information about programs we administer, and relevant legislation associated with the department.
- This page links to our priorities and service commitments.
- For statutory appointees, we publish the name of the person appointed, the position to which the person is appointed (and particulars of the position) and the provision of the Act under which the person is appointed.
- Operational information which has over 4,900 publications of documents, updated quarterly, for the different programs.
Our reports and responses to Parliament
- This includes our annual reports, Senate order no. 8—Production of departmental file list and Senate order no. 9—List of departmental contracts ($100,000 or more).
Routinely requested information and disclosure log
- This will include information in documents to which we routinely give access in response to FOI requests and information published under s 11C of the FOI Act.
The department consults in a variety of ways with the Australian Public.
- Delivering a range of payments based on policy provided by other departments. We provide links to other departments, so members of the public can comment on any policy proposal.
- We also undertake public consultation on our website through 'Speechbubble':
- 'Speechbubble' is an online forum where customers, staff and stakeholders can discuss and provide feedback about our initiatives.
- 'Speechbubble' will be available online at various times to inform and engage with the public on different initiatives. It is a less formal and more immediate way for us to consult directly and widely with the public to develop citizen-centred products and services.
- Community consultation through different forums
- Stakeholder working groups
- This includes an email address and postal address for the IPS coordinator.
Other information published under the IPS
On the IPS section of our website, we will publish other information that the department holds (in addition to the information published under s 8(2)), taking into account the objects of the FOI Act (s 8(4)). This information will come under the following headings:
- This includes selected corporate and strategic planning documents, assessments and reviews.
- This includes a link to our financial information, including the annual procurement plan, budget information, contracts and other financial information.
- This heading links to our corporate publications and resources internet page.
IPS compliance review
We are a service delivery agency that delivers payments and services to the whole of the Australian population. A priority of the department is to enable our diverse range of customers to find information about 'how' and 'whether' they are entitled to payments.
We are continually identifying and scoping documentation which is operational information. We also monitor the amount of hits on the IPS website on a monthly basis. To date, this has been minimal.
The plan will be reviewed and updated again in 2015.