Friday, March 26, 2010

Whole of Australian Government Mobile Tender

The Department of Finance and Deregulation has issued a Request for Tender for mobile phones, smartphones, wireless broadband modems and services for all of the Australian Government. There is a 1.4 Mbyte document available with the details.
The RFT covers:
  • Mobile Carriage;
  • Mobile Devices: including mobile handsets, smartphones and mobile broadband modems;
  • Mobile Accessories; and
  • Associated Services.
There is a requirement for one or more service providers to provide Telecommunication Commodities, Carriage and Associated Services to the Commonwealth. It is expected that the outcome of this RFT will be a panel accessible by all Agencies.

The Commonwealth aims to establish an arrangement that is flexible, efficient and responsive to changing technology and business requirements. ...
Timeframe for Delivery 3 years plus 2 separate options to extend for 12 months on each occasion. ...

From: Request for Tender for a Whole of Australian Government Panel of Telecommunications Commodities, Carriage and Associated Services, FIN10/AGI002, Department of Finance and Deregulation, 25-Mar-2010

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Government IT Contracts for Small Australian Companies

Senator Kate Lundy (ACT) and Senator Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) announced a Supplier Advocate to Champion IT on 3 March 2010. So far there have been "Supplier Advocates" appointed for rail and steel.

Recently I was asked about support for small business by an ACT Government committee on procurement. I suggested the ACT government should use the same standards and, preferably the same tender system as the Commonwealth. Also simpler tender documents and less onerous insurance conditions were required. Perhaps the ACT government can work with the new advocate on a joint approach to help small ICT businesses.

Australia’s $98 billion IT industry is set to benefit, with an IT Supplier Advocate to be appointed to help secure more major IT contracts.

The IT Supplier Advocate is part of the Rudd Government’s $8.2 million Supplier Advocate Program, which appoints respected industry figures to provide leadership for targeted sectors. Advocates have already been appointed for rail and steel.

Announced by Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, and Senator Kate Lundy, the IT Supplier Advocate will work as a broker and spokesperson, particularly for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the information technology sector.

We want Australian IT firms, particularly SMEs, to have the best chance of getting in the game and the best chance of winning.

It is vital that government has access to the nimble, innovative capacity of IT small businesses and equally, they have access to government.

The IT Supplier Advocate will help small businesses access contracts that may not have been on their radar.

The advocate will also work to ease the often unfounded concerns of risk that may be associated with awarding work to small business.

NICTA’s Australian eGovernment Technology Cluster has offered to work with an IT Supplier Advocate to provide services and facilities to help SMEs field test and prove the scalability of their IT solutions to prospective customers.

The Government canvassed the views of many stakeholders in the Australian IT sector about appointing an advocate.

These consultations suggest that there are significant IT procurement opportunities in the government where the supplier advocate could make a difference.

The Government’s Information Technology Industry Innovation Council will provide advice on the appointment. An announcement on the advocate is expected by the end of March. ...

From: Supplier Advocate to Champion IT, Joint Media Release by Senator Kate Lundy and Senator Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) 3 March 2010

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Government reports as ebooks

One response to my talk on "Making e-Books for e-Learning on i-Pads" at BarCamp Canberra 2010 was from Senator KateLundy. She tweeted: "With so much govt information online, Tom's talk makes me wonder about the merit of publishing public info in ebook formats too". This seems an idea worth investigating.

I have long advocated providing government reports as a set of web pages, rather than as one big PDF file, as is typically done. However, government people are reluctant to do this.

One argument against web pages is that they are more difficult to make, but as I show my web design students, if you take an accessible approach to design, then this is not hard. If the document designer concentrates on making a document people can read online, where most will be read, rather than concentrating on producing a pretty printed report (which hardly anyone will see), then web format is a viable option.

Another argument is that web pages are not legal documents, which I explain to my electronic document students, is not true either. There is a commonly held, but incorrect, assumption that government reports must be in PDF format to stop them being edited. It is more difficult to edit a PDF file than a web page, but not impossible. In any case this is irrelevant to the protection of government reports.

But I suspect the real issue is that a set of web pages do not seem as real as a "book" and does not have the needed look of authority a government report demands. Collecting the web pages up into an ebook format may give them the needed gravitas. This could done with a three step process:
  1. Here is the printed report, see it looks like a proper printed document,
  2. Here is the ebook, see it looks like the printed report,
  3. Here is the web page, see it looks like a chapter from the ebook.
As government agencies are already using content management systems, it should be feasible to support commonly used ebook formats with minimal effort by authors and publishers. The CMS would simply collect up a set of web pages and package them in an ebook format (a simpler system would do the reverse, saving the e-book and unpacking it on request to separate web pages, which might better meet archiving requirements).

As discussed in my talk on "Making e-Books for e-Learning on i-Pads", the obvious e-book format to use is EPUB. This is based on XHTML and CCS as used by government web sites. It is also being popularised as a format by support on the Apple iPad. EPUB requires some extra XML files, but these supply information which agencies are required to provide anyway and should already have in their systems.

Convincing agencies to use an ebook format should be a lot easier than convincing them to use accessible web pages. Instead of having to explain why a whole lot of decorative junk is not a good idea and that instead information should be clearly and simply, it will be just a matter of saying "yest, that is a wonderful animated app, but unfortunately the ebook format does not support it".

There will be some inefficiencies, as ebooks are designed to be standalone. Therefore the CSS, logos and "about us" text which can be shared between web pages (and automatically inserted as required by a CMS) will have to be duplicated in each ebook. However, this duplication already occurs with PDF versions of reports, where fonts also contribute to the size of the resulting files.

Ebooks should also make archivists happy as they include their own metadata. In fact ebooks are conceptually similar to the archiving techniques used electronic archiving systems, which wrap up all the associated files of an e-document along with an XML encoded set of metadata.

The public could still read an individual chapter of a report as an ordinary web page. The system could also still provide automatically generated PDF, if anyone wants it. But if the web version is offered first in the list of options online, I suspect most people will be happy to download a few dozen kilobytes of the summary of a report, rather than megabytes of the full report in PDF. I might try out the idea with my students this year and see if the practice then diffuses into the Australian government.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Australian Government Teleworking Policy

The Australian Government Information Management Office has issued a "Whole-of-Government Tele-working Policy for ICT Staff" (17 December 2009). It sets out the responsibilities of the agencies and the employees. All agencies are required to prepare an implementation plan, or decide to opt out by 30 June 2010. Plans must be implemented by 1 January 2011 and agencies have to report progress annually with metrics.

The appears well thought out, for example allowing for staff to work at telecentres. One curious aspect of this policy is why it only applies to ICT staff. The ICT staff are employed under the same conditions as other Australian public servants.

The policy is a 9 page document. Unfortunately this has been provided a PDF file, so here is a translation into HTML:

Tele-working Policy for ICT Staff

Approved by the Secretaries ICT Governance Board on 17 December 2009


The Australian Government Tele-working Policy for ICT staff will reform the ICT workforce in the Australian Public Service (APS) and ensure agencies attract and retain skilled Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals.


The Australian Government Tele-working policy and its implementation by agencies will assist to:

  • promote the design of job roles capable of being performed remotely;
  • remove the technical impediments to tele-working;
  • provide a whole-of-government approach to securing information and infrastructure to support tele-working;
  • build agency capability to manage and support tele-working and tele-workers;
  • create APS employment opportunities in regional locations;
  • attract higher numbers of skilled ICT workers to the APS;
  • increase the complexity of the skill base within the APS; and
  • enhance the opportunities for ICT workers with disabilities, or who are returning to work, to participate in the APS workforce.


The APS is facing an ICT skills shortage in the immediate future, as ICT job roles increase in complexity. Tele-working, in conjunction with other ICT workforce strategies, will contribute to the APS being an employer of choice by increasing flexibility of employment. In addition, reducing reliance on Canberra-based ICT personnel will improve value for money. Furthermore, by increasing the geographic area from which ICT workers can be recruited, tele-working will increase the supply of ICT skills to the APS.

The project arose in response to the Review of the Australian Government’s Use of ICT by Sir Peter Gershon (“the ICT Review”). The ICT Review recommended that the Australian Government “establish a whole-of-government tele-working policy for ICT staff, building on existing AGIMO guidance” (Recommendation 5.4.6). Existing AGIMO guidance includes the Better Practice Checklist regarding ICT support to tele-work.


The Australian Government will support ICT tele-working for APS ICT employees on a full time, part-time and casual basis. Tele-working will support:

  • Home-based work – for staff who work within commuting distance of their usual place of work;
  • Out-posted work – for staff who work from home but for whom it is not practical to travel to the workplace on a daily basis; and
  • Tele-centre work – for staff who require access to office facilities in a location outside of their agency’s usual location.
The scope of the policy does not include travellers, day extenders, field officers or campus workers.

Operating Principles

The Australian Government is committed to providing a flexible workplace for ICT staff.

All APS agencies must develop a tele-working implementation plan if they do not have an existing plan. The implementation plan must meet the stated objectives outlined in this policy, and must address all items listed under Responsibilities. The implementation plan should be based on any relevant and applicable policy or guidelines already existing in the agency.

Individual agencies will have the flexibility to create an implementation plan to suit their individual agency circumstances. These plans will include consideration of value-for-money and fit-for-purpose criteria.


The implementation of the tele-working policy for ICT staff will be consistent with Commonwealth, State and Territory laws. A list of associated legislation, regulation and procedures is provided in Attachment A.

Eligibility of the role and the employee must be determined against measurable criteria or outcomes. The worker’s job function must fall within agency eligibility requirements. Criteria to determine employee eligibility could include length of tenure, performance and demonstrated skill set proficiency.

A tele-working arrangement does not alter the employment status of the employee; must be mutually agreed; and can be reviewed at the request of the employer or the employee.

Australian Government agencies must maintain a safe and productive working environment for employees who are tele-working.


Agencies must have a tele-working implementation plan, or have opted-out through the Expenditure Review Committee by 30 June 2010. Implementation of this plan must be completed by 1 January 2011. Agencies will report annually to the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board (SIGB), through the Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) on its implementation plan. Specifically this report will address progress by agencies; barriers to implementation and possible solutions and numbers of ICT staff employed under tele-working arrangements. Agencies may include specific success metrics in their annual report to the SIGB.

Agencies must establish a formal multi-disciplinary governance body that includes ICT, HR and workplace representatives to oversee the implementation of tele-working and take-up rates.

The Australian Government will develop a whole-of-government solution to secure classified information commensurate with the level of classification for the physical and electronic information that will be handled. A lead agency will develop a security solution in consultation with Finance and the Chief Information Officer Committee (CIOC).

A tele-centre allows agencies to support a remote ICT workforce in regional centres. However, the cost of establishing agency specific tele-centres will be prohibitive for many agencies. AGIMO, in consultation with the Cross Jurisdictional Chief Information Officers’ Committee, will report to SIGB on the demand for and feasibility of establishing tele-centres in selected regions by February 2010.


Tele-working will provide the following outcomes for the Australian Government:

  • increasing quality and quantity of ICT applicants and retention of the best employees, particularly those who value flexible working hours and newer workers who have high expectations of technology;
  • providing an alternative for employees with long commutes to save travelling time and expenses;
  • reduced expenditure on overhead items such as recruitment, facilities and utilities;
  • reducing traffic congestion, emissions and stress on infrastructure, thereby improving the environment;
  • creation of infrastructure and processes to support disaster recovery and business continuity during an emergency;
  • opportunities for agencies to share cost processes and infrastructure;
  • reducing the Canberra-centricity of existing ICT activities by harnessing emerging new labour pools, particularly from regional areas; and
  • promoting equity in employment by increasing employment options for people with disabilities or caring responsibilities.

Responsibilities (joint)

Workplace participation

Tele-workers and their managers must use processes and tools that maximise communication opportunities. The use of collaboration tools will sustain social and knowledge networks, and cultural affiliation of tele-workers.


Agencies must familiarise themselves with the tax ramifications of implementing tele-working arrangements.

If the arrangements result in benefits being provided to an employee, agencies must consider Pay As You Go withholding obligations (for additional salary and wages) or fringe benefits tax (FBT) obligations (for benefits) that may apply.

Tele-workers should seek taxation advice on claims that may be made with respect to the tele-working arrangement. Tele-workers may make substantiated claims for deduction on additional running expenses of an office or a study at home that is used for income-producing activities.

Education and awareness

Agencies must provide an education and awareness program for tele-workers and their managers on topics specific to a tele-working arrangement. In these programs agencies must address Occupational, Health and Safety (OHS), security, Comcare coverage, remote access, support and manager training on time management of “out-of-sight” workers.

Agencies must ensure tele-workers’ ICT skill sets remain current and relevant to the role they are performing. The long term impact on career opportunities of these workers should be monitored and specific training, together with interaction and collaboration tools considered.

It is both the employee and their manager’s responsibility to ensure development opportunities are identified and scheduled.


All Australian Government employees are covered by provisions of Comcare for working hours, regardless of their working location. It is recommended that each agency include the exact details of this coverage in their education and awareness training for tele-working.

All Australian Government assets are covered under the Comcover Insurance Policy at all working locations, including private residences. Where some or all of the ICT equipment is owned by the employee, responsibility for insuring the asset(s) rests with the employee, unless otherwise agreed by their employer.


Agencies and tele-workers should agree formally on contact arrangements; client interactions and attendance at other physical locations upon request.


The responsibility for the costs of tele-working (set up, maintenance, continuity etc) must form part of the contract for tele-workers to be agreed upon by both parties. Agencies should be aware of, and detail the approach to be taken for part time tele-working where the tele-worker is also engaged by another agency (Commonwealth or State) and/or with private enterprise.

Responsibilities (employers)

Application Process

Agencies must define the eligibility requirements for tele-working. Agencies’ implementation plans must clearly state the process for application and termination of tele-working arrangements. Agencies should assess tele-working applications with regard to the following:

  • the duties of the employee
  • the sensitivity or classification of information to be accessed
  • the expected deliverables or outcomes and how they will be measured
  • the duration of the arrangement
  • the benefits to the organisation
  • the costs to the organisation
  • agency operational requirements.


Agencies’ implementation plans must comply with the Protective Security Manual 2007 (PSM). Part H of the PSM specifies the security arrangements for working from home.

Agencies must undertake security assessments for home-based tele-workers.

Agencies will determine the level of classification of information that can be worked on at home or in a tele-centre and this determination must comply with Part H of the PSM.

Agencies must provide and maintain security containers at a level appropriate to classification level and other security measures for tele-workers to manage classified material.

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)

Agencies must take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety at work of their employees. An employer’s duty of care under the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991 (Cth) (OHS Act) applies to an employee conducting authorised work at home.1

An agency will determine what is ‘reasonably practicable’ as there is no specific requirement for a physical inspection under the OHS Act or associated regulations.

ICT Infrastructure

Agencies will ensure tele-working staff will use agency approved ICT infrastructure in their home.

Agencies’ ICT plans must include secure and scalable tele-working infrastructure and support mechanisms to support their tele-working implementation plan.

Short-term arrangements (less than 4 weeks)

From time-to-time, ICT staff may have short-term tele-working arrangements put in place. For example:

  • where an injury impairs travel but would otherwise not impact on performance of their duties;
  • a staff member has temporary caring responsibilities and is able to perform some or all of their duties for part of the day; or
  • a disaster or pandemic which prevents workers from attending their normal place of work.
In these circumstances, an agency will determine the most appropriate method of assessing OHS and security arrangements.

Responsibilities (employees)


Home-based staff must provide access to their home to employers, or agents acting on their behalf, for purposes such as security checks, OHS assessments or ICT support, following an agreed period of notice.

Third Parties

Home-based tele-workers are responsible for the safety of visitors to their home and must maintain public liability insurance to the level specified by the agency.

1 Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (OHS Act), Section 16(1)


Employees must maintain full proficiency in their job specific competencies, as well as agency processes.

Agency Guidelines and Instructions

Employees must conform to all agency guidelines and instructions.


The employee should agree to participate in all studies, inquiries, reports and analyses

relating to this policy.

Dependent Care

Tele-working is not to be treated as a substitute for dependent care. Tele-workers will not usually be available during working hours to provide dependent care.

Attachment A

Associated legislation, regulation and procedures2.

  • Agency Collective Agreements (and other individual agency-based requirements)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Disability Services Act 1986 (Cth)
  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth)
  • Information Security Manual (ISM) 2009 Section 6
  • Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment Act 1991 (Cth) (OHS Act), Section 16(1)
  • Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
  • Protective Security Manual (PSM) 2007 Part “H”
  • Public Service Act 1999 (Cth)
  • Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth)
  • Superannuation Act 1990 (Cth)
  • Taxation Administration Act1953 (Cth)
  • Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW)
  • Work Safety Act 2008 (ACT)

2 State/Commonwealth legislation (liability and insurance) should also be taken into consideration.

Attachment B


APS ICT employee
APS ICT professionals that perform analytical, conceptual and practical tasks, which support the efficient and secure provision of information and communication technology (ICT) services to government.
The buildings & grounds of a complex (industrial park or military establishment).
Day Extender
Employees that may regularly work a standard day(s) at the office and then may log in from a secure home office to complete work that could not be undertaken during the normal day. Such work patterns for the same employer when done on a repeated basis (i.e. not ad hoc) would qualify as tele-working.
Dependent Care
Care for a child, frail older person or someone with a disability or chronic illness.
Refers to any area outside of Canberra and the ACT.
A location separate to the employee’s home and remote from the agency’s normal business premises that provides access to an office environment. These facilities may be provided on an agency specific or shared basis.
Paid work conducted away from an organisation’s physical offices, but that requires at least periodic connection to the employer’s computer network.
An employee or contractor undertaking tele-work.

From: Whole-of-Government Tele-working Policy for ICT Staff, AGIMO, 17 December 2009 (converted from the PDF version.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Environment Department Wasting Energy on Letters

On 8 January I sent an email message to the Minster for Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts suggesting Internet enhanced meetings for post-Copenhagen climate change negotiations. Today I received reply from the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services. This anonymous message had a facsimile image of a letter attached (signed with an unreadable signature). The letter thanked me for my email and said my letter (I didn't send them a letter) had been referred to the Minister for Climate Change.

The attached letter was in the form of an image. The resulting file was about 100 times larger than it need be and would not be readable by those with limited vision. Government guidelines (and Australian law) require services to be provided in a way does not discriminate against people with a disability, including the blind. Routinely generating correspondence in the form of an image may constitute unlawful discrimination.

If communication was necessary (which it wasn't) all that was needed was a brief email. This would have been more readable and would used much few resources.

The Ministerial and parliamentary services handled about 20,000 items of ministerial correspondence last year. Assuming that a message similar to the one I got (about 40 kbytes of unnecessary data) was sent to each, that represents about 800 Mbytes of data. As this is correspondence the department will need to keep a copy on file for some years, wasting resources (including greenhouse gas causing energy) and increasing costs. So the Department's response to my suggestion for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been to increase theirs.

The Australian Government has some excellent guidelines on how to handle communications (some of which I helped write). The Ministerial and Parliamentary Services of the Australian Department of Environment perhaps should read some of them.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NBN Passive optical network

NBN Co diagram of Fibre Serving Area, Indicative Access InfrastructureNBN Co, who have the job of building the National Broadband Network for Australia, plan to use a passive optical network, in particular GPON or ITU-T G.984. This reduces the amount of electronics needed in the network, reducing the cost and increasing the reliability. It also allows the speed of the network to be increased by replacing relatively few electronic components and not changing the optical fibre. In addition it reduces the number of fibres which have to be run long distances.

The passive optical network uses optical splitters to divide the signal on one optical fibre so it can be distributed to several dozen homes (up to about 100). Each home gets the signals sent to all homes, so encryption has to be used for privacy. Data sent from the homes is sent with a multiple access protocol,, with each sharing some of the fibre capacity.

It is not clear from the planning documents, but hopefully multicasting will be supported by the passive part of the network. That is for sending the same data to many people, for example for digital TV, the one optical signal will be sent to all houses, rather than sending multiple copies of the same thing to each house.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Government 2.0 Report

The final report of the Government 2.0 Taskforce, headed by Nicholas Gruen is now available "Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0". The report is only available in PDF (1.6 MB) and Microsoft RTF (4.9 MB) formats. At 157 pages this is a very large report. An easy to download and read HTML version of the report will not be available until mid-January. In the interim, I have converted the executive summary and recommendations from the RTF to HTML using and HTML Tidy and appended them here.

Key points

  • Government 2.0 or the use of the new collaborative tools and approaches of Web 2.0 offers an unprecedented opportunity to achieve more open, accountable, responsive and efficient government.
  • Though it involves new technology, Government 2.0 is really about a new approach to organising and governing. It will draw people into a closer and more collaborative relationship with their government. Australia has an opportunity to resume its leadership in seizing these opportunities and capturing the resulting social and economic benefits.
  • Leadership, and policy and governance changes are needed to shift public sector culture and practice to make government information more accessible and usable, make government more consultative, participatory and transparent, build a culture of online innovation within Government, and to promote collaboration across agencies.
  • Government pervades some of the most important aspects of our lives. Government 2.0 can harness the wealth of local and expert knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm of Australians to improve schools, hospitals, workplaces, to enrich our democracy and to improve its own policies, regulation and service delivery.
  • Government 2.0 is a key means for renewing the public sector; offering new tools for public servants to engage and respond to the community; empower the enthusiastic, share ideas and further develop their expertise through networks of knowledge with fellow professionals and others. Together, public servants and interested communities can work to address complex policy and service delivery challenges.
  • Information collected by or for the public sector — is a national resource which should be managed for public purposes. That means that we should reverse the current presumption that it is secret unless there are good reasons for release and presume instead that it should be freely available for anyone to use and transform unless there are compelling privacy, confidentially or security considerations.
  • Government 2.0 will not be easy for it directly challenges some aspects of established policy and practice within government. Yet the changes to culture, practice and policy we envisage will ultimately advance the traditions of modern democratic government. Hence, there is a requirement for co-ordinated leadership, policy and culture change.
  • Government 2.0 is central to the delivery of government reforms like promoting innovation; and making our public service the world’s best.
From: "Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0", Government 2.0 Taskforce, Department of Finance and Deregulation, 22 December 2009

Executive summary

Web 2.0 and its promise for government

The use of the internet as a platform for collaboration is already transforming our economy and our lives. Whole industries and sectors are being refashioned by this phenomenon of Web 2.0. Citizens are being empowered to express themselves, organise and collaborate in myriad new ways.

The tools of Web 2.0 include blogs, wikis and social networking platforms. These tools enable communities of interest to develop rapidly to find people with local knowledge or technical expertise to build understanding of issues and solve problems as they emerge. They enable communities to filter the torrent of information on the internet and identify the most useful parts of it. They enable us to find the most useful contributors in any given subject area, be they a world expert or someone possessing important local or ephemeral knowledge.

Web 2.0 also encompasses the way in which the internet has become a platform for the distribution of vast quantities of data and the way in which it has empowered people and organisations to transform data by ‘mashing it up’, combining it with other data so that it can become useful in new ways.

These new tools and the culture of open collaboration which distinguishes the culture of Web 2.0 present important new challenges and possibilities for government. This offers new opportunities to refresh and deepen the enduring principles and values of modern democratic government and improve the quality and responsiveness of government policy making and service delivery.

The taskforce’s Government 2.0 agenda

The taskforce came to define its agenda for Government 2.0 in terms of three pillars:

  • Leadership, policy and governance to achieve necessary shifts in public sector culture and practice.

  • The application of Web 2.0 collaborative tools and practices to the business of government.

  • Open access to public sector information (PSI).

Government 2.0 presents challenges to some long held government practices and has the potential to change the relationship between government and its citizens.

The promise of Government 2.0

By embracing Government 2.0 we can:

  • make our democracy more participatory and informed

  • improve the quality and responsiveness of services in areas like education, health and environmental management, and at the same time deliver these services with greater agility and efficiency

  • cultivate and harness the enthusiasm of citizens, letting them more fully contribute to their wellbeing and that of their community

  • unlock the immense economic and social value of information and other content held by governments to serve as a precompetitive platform for innovation

  • revitalise our public sector and make government policies and services more responsive to people’s needs and concerns by:

  • providing government with the tools for a much greater level of community engagement

  • allowing the users of government services much greater participation in their design and continual improvement

  • involving communities of interest and practice outside the public sector — which offer unique access to expertise, local knowledge and perspectives — in policy making and delivery

  • more successfully attracting and retaining bright, enthusiastic citizens to the public service by making their work less hierarchical, more collaborative and more intrinsically rewarding.

Government 2.0 will be central to delivering on critical national objectives including delivering on our National Innovation Agenda — including the aspiration for a more innovative public sector.3 It will be central to addressing the desire of the Advisory Group on the Reform of Australian Government Administration to establish in Australia the world’s best public service which puts citizens at the centre of everything it does.4 It will be an important component of the Department of Human Services service delivery reform agenda .5It can improve social inclusion. And it will enable us to make the most of our huge broadband investment making Australia a more connected democracy.

The state of play

The enthusiasm of public agencies, public servants and the public themselves are all necessary for Government 2.0 to take root. In this regard Australia is well placed. Some Australian Government agencies have become recognised as international leaders in their embrace of Government 2.0 approaches.

In 2001, the Australian Government’s Spatial Data Access and Pricing Policy was one of the first substantial programs in the world in which government data which had previously been sold was made available without charge.6Today both the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Geoscience Australia are licensing much of their output using Creative Commons licences which permit others to freely use and remix it. This is an invitation to enhance the value of this public information asset (see Chapter 5).

The National Library of Australia (NLA), National Archives of Australia (NAA) and a number of Museums such as the National Museum of Australia (NMA) and Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum7 have engaged Australia’s citizenry in contributing their own time and content to enrich and improve national historical collections of text and visual material. Some government agencies and some individual public officials maintain blogs where they share their expertise and have informal discussions of professional matters of public interest.

There are many other examples. However efforts to date have tended to rely on the interest and enthusiasm of individual agencies. A recent KPMG survey undertaken for the Review of Australian Government Administration found that the Australian Public Service compared favourably with counterpart services elsewhere in a range of areas, but had worse performance than its best peers in the provision of online access to government information and services, mechanisms for cross-agency collaboration and tools and methods for incorporating external advice into the policy development and service design process. These are all things that Government 2.0 can deliver.

Since 2007 the United Kingdom, New Zealand and, more recently, the United States, have recognised the economic and social benefits of Government 2.0 at the highest levels of government. These countries have put in place co-ordinated and centrally driven reforms to advance the Government 2.0 agenda. Until recently, Australia was lagging behind these leaders, but proposed legislation to strengthen access to information and the promulgation of very encouraging new Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) guidelines for online engagement has set the stage for Australia to join the other countries in pioneering Government 2.0.

The taskforce’s approach

Accordingly the taskforce’s central recommendation is for a Declaration of Open Government to be made at the highest level of government emphasising the role of Web 2.0 tools and approaches in

  • achieving a more consultative, participatory and transparent government

  • realising the full social and economic value of public sector information (PSI) as a national resource

  • asserting the centrality of Government 2.0 in the achievement of the government’s broader reform objectives.

For Australia to achieve the aspirations outlined in our terms of reference, it will require stronger, more co-ordinated governance; policy improvements and a renewed public service culture of openness and engagement. It is essential to find ways that government can adapt to the new paradigm of open and transparent government.

Government 2.0 needs concerted leadership to drive the necessary reforms and bring about the shifts of culture and practice required across the whole of government. For this reason the taskforce’s second recommendation is that a lead agency be appointed from within one of the central portfolios — either within Finance and Deregulation or Prime Minister and Cabinet — to take responsibility for Government 2.0 policy and provide leadership, guidance and support to agencies and public servants. The agency’s work program should be developed though a Government 2.0 Steering Group of high level officials from relevant agencies.

The lead agency will provide guidance and support to improve the extent and quality of online engagement to promote innovation and share knowledge. Agencies will identify and address barriers to online engagement; and nominate specific projects aimed at enhancing policy making and delivery through the use of online tools within and between agencies across the public sector.

According to a recent survey,8governments around the world had the lowest deployment of unified communications and collaboration technology across major industries. Currently, few public servants have work access to these building blocks of Government 2.0. The taskforce recommends that agencies provide employees with access to appropriate technology.

In order to achieve these shifts, public servants should be actively encouraged and empowered to engage online. The recently issued APSC guidelines for online engagement are an excellent start. They begin:

Web 2.0 provides public servants with unprecedented opportunities to open up government decision making and implementation to contributions from the community. In a professional and respectful manner public servants should engage in robust policy conversations.

Equally, as citizens, APS employees should also embrace the opportunity to add to the mix of opinions contributing to sound, sustainable policies and service delivery approaches.

Security concerns have been a major inhibitor of collaboration technology adoption in the public sector. Accordingly the lead agency should work with the Defence Signals Directorate to develop appropriate guidance so that agencies can undertake security risk assessments and ensure the effective, efficient and secure use of Web 2.0 tools.

Public agencies should also seek opportunities and provide space for staff to experiment and develop opportunities for greater online engagement and participation with their customers, citizens and communities of interest. Over time it will also be important to report and scrutinise progress, ensure that lessons are learned and reward outstanding practice in the use of Web 2.0 tools to improve agency and program performance. Recognition for outstanding practice will include adoption of WCAG as the minimum accessibility standard for Government 2.0.

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC)’s annual State of the Service Report will be one instrument by which agencies’ progress in implementing these measures can be tracked and reported.

We also need clear, strong and simple policies to deliver the aspiration of the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 20099for public sector information (PSI) to be released by default with secrecy being maintained only where there is good reason to do so. In addition the information must be truly open. This means that unless there are good reasons to the contrary, information should be

  • free10

  • easily discoverable

  • based on open standards and therefore machine-readable11

  • properly documented and therefore understandable12

  • licensed to permit free reuse and transformation by others.

The need for the licensing itself to be machine readable means that the licence should conform to some international standard such as Creative Commons.

The taskforce proposes Creative Commons BY as the default licence.13Where third parties are involved, agencies should contract to ensure that government is able to license their work under the default licence. The government should also proceed with a review of copyright in relation to ‘orphan works’14. There should also be a process of providing more open licensing to the stock of existing PSI which has been more restrictively licensed in the past.

Because so many of the benefits of Government 2.0 will accrue when state governments are involved, the taskforce proposes that the principles set out in this report be implemented at all levels of government in Australia through a national information policy and that the Commonwealth should provide national leadership towards such a policy by engaging the Council of Australian Governments.

To accelerate progress the taskforce recommends establishing a central portal ( that will enable access to and discovery of the data and skills necessary in preparing government information to be released as open PSI. Guidance will be required to assist agencies to protect privacy and confidentiality, including making sure that they can reliably de-identify personal and commercial-in-confidence PSI.

The taskforce endorses the proposed Freedom of Information reforms and recommends that the proposed new Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) operate to ensure the integrity of the process by which PSI is released by default. PSI should be released unless agencies are following the Information Commissioner’s (IC’s) policies or have the agreement of the IC not to release it.

In addition, the OIC will develop and administer policies to ensure that PSI that may be considered as holding value is proactively identified and released; and that all options to protect privacy and confidentiality by suppressing certain fields in structured data15be explored before an exemption from release is granted. The Commonwealth Copyright Administration (CCA) unit within the Attorney General’s Department (AGD) should also be moved to the OIC or the lead agency reflecting their charter to optimise the flow of information.

In order to measure the benefits of releasing PSI, the proposed OIC should develop a common methodology to determine the social and economic value generated from published PSI; require major agencies to report and publish their performance on the release of PSI in their annual report, as well as their contribution to the consolidated value of Commonwealth PSI.

Taskforce supports the model for the information publication scheme set out in the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 2009 and recommends that the proposed OIC provide guidance to the public on their rights to access PSI and guidance for agencies to meet their information publication and reporting obligations.

Some of the most successful experiments in Government 2.0 have been led by not-for-profits in the UK and the US. Here, the taskforce suggest that policymakers facilitate recognition of info-philanthropy16as an eligible activity to qualify for deductible gift recipient status and other measures that recognise charitable or philanthropic purposes.

What is at stake

The work of government funded or managed agencies pervades and underpins some of the most important aspects of Australian’s lives. By improving agency operation and their relationship with stakeholders, Government 2.0 gives us the scope to improve:

  • the quality of schools

  • the quality and safety of hospitals

  • the safety and productivity of workplaces

  • the convenience of public utility services such as public transport, energy and the maintenance of government infrastructure

  • the dynamism, engagement and responsiveness of the public sector, its services and regulatory systems.

Government 2.0 can enable Australia to achieve all this while deepening democracy and engaging the citizenry so that governments don’t just ‘consult’ their constituents, but draw all those with the enthusiasm, expertise and relevant local knowledge into active collaboration with them.

Getting to Government 2.0 will not be easy or straightforward for it requires co-ordinated leadership, policy and culture change. But as Mike Waller put it in a project for the taskforce ‘no country can lay claim to having yet achieved the overall transformation in public sector culture, systems and processes required to deliver a fully articulated Government 2.0 approach’. Having just begun the journey back to world leadership, we should press on secure in the knowledge that a serious effort will see us succeed.

Report recommendations

Central recommendation: A declaration of open government by the Government

Accompanying the government’s announcement of its policy response to this report, a declaration of open government should be made at the highest level, stating that:

  • using technology to increase citizen engagement and collaboration in making policy and providing service will help achieve a more consultative, participatory and transparent government

  • public sector information is a national resource and that releasing as much of it on as permissive terms as possible will maximise its economic and social value to Australians and reinforce its contribution to a healthy democracy

  • online engagement by public servants, involving robust professional discussion as part of their duties or as private citizens, benefits their agencies, their professional development, those with whom they are engaged and the Australian public. This engagement should be enabled and encouraged

The fulfilment of the above at all levels of government is integral to the Government’s objectives including public sector reform, innovation and using the national investment in broadband to achieve an informed, connected and democratic community.

Recommendation 2: Coordinate with leadership, guidance and support

2.1 A lead agency should be established within the Commonwealth public service with overall responsibility for advancing the Government 2.0 agenda, providing leadership, resources, guidance and support to agencies and public servants on Government 2.0 issues. Its work program should be developed in consultation with relevant agencies, for example Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the proposed new Office of the Information Commissioner, Department of Finance and Deregulation, the Australian Public Service Commission, National Archives of Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, through a Government 2.0 Steering Group17.

2.2 The Australian Government should engage other members of the Council of Australian Governments to work with the lead agency to learn from each other and promote their successes in the development of Government 2.0 strategies.

Recommendation 3: Improve guidance and require agencies to engage online

3.1 To make government more consultative, participatory and transparent, the lead agency, in consultation with other relevant agencies, should issue and maintain guidance to improve the extent and quality of online engagement by agencies.

3.2 Using this guidance, in conjunction with the lead agency and within 12 months of the government’s response to this report, all major agencies18should:

3.2.1 identify barriers within their organisation which inhibit online engagement and document what they will do to reduce these barriers

3.2.2 identify and document specific projects to make use of social networking and ‘crowd sourcing’ tools and techniques to enhance agency policymaking, implementation and continuous improvement

3.2.3 identify and document specific projects to increase the use of online tools and platforms for internal collaboration within their agency and between agencies that they work with across the public sector.

3.3 The APSC will include in the annual State of the Service Report details of agencies’ progress in implementing the above recommendations, covering successes, disappointments and lessons learned.

3.4 Subject to security and privacy requirements, all public inquiries funded by the Australian Government should ensure that all submissions are posted online in a form that makes them searchable, easy to comment on and re-use. The Government 2.0 lead agency should encourage those conducting inquiries to use interactive media such as blogs to publicly discuss emerging lines of thought and issues of relevance.

Recommendation 4: Encourage public servants to engage online

4.1 The taskforce endorses the revised online engagement guidelines for public servants issued by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) on 18 November 2009, including the declaration that Web 2.0 provides public servants with unprecedented opportunities to open up government decision making and implementation to contributions from the community. The taskforce agrees that, consistent with APS values and code of conduct, APS employees should be actively encouraged and empowered to engage online.

4.2 The APSC in consultation with the lead agency should regularly review online engagement guidelines, using Government 2.0 approaches to ensure the process is open and transparent.

4.3 The default position in agencies should be that employees are encouraged and enabled to engage online. Agencies should support employee enablement by providing access to tools and addressing internal technical and policy barriers.

4.4 Agencies should support employee-initiated, innovative Government 2.0-based proposals that create, or support, greater engagement and participation with their customers, citizens and/or communities of interest in different aspects of the agency’s work. They should create a culture that gives their staff an opportunity to experiment and develop new opportunities for engagement from their own initiative, rewarding those especially who create new engagement/participation tools or methods that can quickly be absorbed into the mainstream practice that lifts the performance of the department or agency.

4.5 The Government 2.0 lead agency should establish an online forum on which agencies can record their initiatives and lessons learned.

Recommendation 5: Awards

In consultation with relevant agencies, the lead agency should establish awards for individual public servants and agencies that recognise outstanding practice in the use and impact of Government 2.0 tools to improve agency and program performance.

Recommendation 6: Make public sector information open, accessible and reusable

6.1 By default Public Sector Information19(PSI) should be:

  • free20

  • based on open standards

  • easily discoverable

  • understandable21

  • machine-readable22

  • freely reusable and transformable23.

6.2 PSI should be released as early as practicable and regularly updated to ensure its currency is maintained.

6.3 Consistent with the need for free and open re-use and adaptation, PSI released should be licensed under the Creative Commons BY standard24as the default.

6.4 Use of more restrictive licensing arrangements should be reserved for special circumstances only, and such use is to be in accordance with general guidance or specific advice provided by the proposed OIC.

6.5 The proposed OIC should develop policies to maximise the extent to which existing PSI be re-licensed Creative Commons BY, taking account of undue administrative burden this may cause for agencies. To minimise administrative burden, the taskforce envisages that rules could be adopted whereby a large amount of PSI that has already been published could be automatically designated Creative Commons BY. This would include government reports, legislation and records that are already accessible to the public. Individuals or organisations should also be able to request that other PSI should be re-licensed Creative Commons BY on application, with a right of appeal should the request be refused, to the proposed new Information Commissioner.

6.6 Where ownership of the PSI data rests with the Commonwealth, data should be released under Creative Commons BY licence. Negotiation with the other party/s will be required to ensure release under Creative Commons BY for PSI which is not owned be the Commonwealth, or is shared with another party/s. New contracts or agreements with a third party should endeavour to include a clause clearly stating the Commonwealth’s obligation to publish relevant data and that this be under a Creative Commons BY licence.25This policy should become mandatory for all contracts signed by the Commonwealth after June 2011.

6.7 Copyright policy should be amended so that works covered by Crown copyright are automatically licensed under a Creative Commons BY licence at the time at which Commonwealth records become available for public access under the Archives Act 1983.

6.8 Any decision to withhold the release of PSI, other than where there is a legal obligation to withhold release, should only be made with the agreement of, or in conformity with policies endorsed by the proposed OIC and consistent with the government’s FOI policy, noting that:

6.8.1 in the case of structured data,26agencies must exhaust options to protect privacy and confidentiality before seeking an exemption27

6.8.2 agencies must proactively identify and release, without request, such data that might reasonably be considered as holding value to parties outside the agency.

6.9 The Australian Government should engage other members of the Council of Australian Governments, to extend these principles into a national information policy agreed between all levels of government; federal, state, territory and local.

6.10 In order to accelerate the adoption of Government 2.0, in addition to any distribution arrangements they wish to pursue, agencies should ensure that the PSI they release should be discoverable and accessible via a central portal ( containing details of the nature, format and release of the PSI.

6.11 Within the first year of its establishment the proposed OIC, in consultation with the lead agency, should develop and agree a common methodology to inform government on the social and economic value generated from published PSI.

6.12 The major agencies28under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) should use the common methodology to report their performance in the release of PSI in their annual reports, commencing from the first of the establishment of the proposed OIC.

6.13 The proposed OIC should annually publish a report outlining the contribution of each agency to the consolidated value of Commonwealth PSI, commencing in the first of the establishment of the proposed OIC. The report should be published online and be accessible for comment and discussion.

6.14 Following government acceptance of the initial Value of PSI Report, the proposed OIC should consider the development of a ‘lite’ version of the common methodology for use by other FMA Act agencies.

6.15 The taskforce notes the proposed changes to the FOI Amendment (Reform) Bill 2009 to have the proposed OIC issue guidelines to support the future operations of the Act as described in the Explanatory Memorandum for Schedule 2, Section 8.29To ensure effective and consistent implementation of access to PSI these guidelines should give due consideration to the concepts outlined above.

Recommendation 7: Addressing issues in the operation of copyright

7.1 Agencies should apply policy guidance, or seek advice on a case by case basis, on the licensing of PSI either before its release or in administering licences after publication from the proposed OIC.

7.2 The functions currently performed by the Commonwealth Copyright Administration (CCA) unit within the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) relating to pre- and post-licensing of copyright material should be transferred to the either the proposed OIC or the lead agency. Other administrative functions of the CCA unit should be reviewed to identify which of the functions should remain within AGD and those that should transfer to the proposed OIC

7.3 It is recommended that the proposed OIC examine the current state of copyright law with regard to orphan works (including s.200AB), with the aim of recommending amendments that would remove the practical restrictions that currently impede the use of such works.

Recommendation 8: Information publication scheme

8.1 The taskforce recommends that, in the development, management and implementation of a government information publication scheme, the proposed OIC, once established, take regard of the findings and recommendations contained in the report Whole of Government Information Publication Scheme, Government 2.0 Taskforce Project 7.30

8.2 The taskforce supports the model for the publication scheme set out in the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 200931and notes that the Bill incorporates complementary aims. To reinforce its support, the taskforce recommends information publication schemes be developed with the following explicit aims. To:

8.2.1 provide an overall and consistent statutory framework for information publication by all agencies

8.2.2 encourage the widest disclosure of useful government information consistent with the public interest, and thereby greater trust in government

8.2.3 guide agencies in overcoming attitudinal, technological and legal barriers to optimal information disclosure and use, and to improved public engagement

8.2.4 provide a planning framework to assist agencies in their overall information management

8.2.5 provide an integrated and simplified guide for agencies to meet their information publication and reporting obligations

8.2.6 provide clear and understandable guidance to the public on their rights to, and methods of, accessing and using government information, leading to improved service delivery and public engagement in policy development

8.2.7 enable the proposed OIC to monitor schemes, and encourage agencies towards achieving government pro-disclosure objectives through reference to exemplars, and reporting of unsatisfactory progress.

Recommendation 9: Accessibility

9.1 Significant cultural change is needed to enable greater support for the adoption of accessible Web 2.0 tools, collaboration and online community engagement activities, and PSI delivery projects The taskforce therefore recommends that:

9.1.1 agency compliance with the Worldwide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)32as the minimum accessibility level for all online community engagement and online PSI provision is required. Data provided on the primary PSI site,, should be provided in full compliance with WCAG

9.1.2 where an agency is considering a Web 2.0 project where strict compliance with WCAG accessibility guidelines risks preventing a project from proceeding, AGIMO will provide guidance on options to facilitate maximum access for people with disabilities

9.1.3 where an agency elects to proceed with a project that is not fully compliant they must publish an online statement explaining site accessibility, together with an outline of where and why it does not meet a specific WCAG guideline, and what alternative options for accessible access were considered or are provided and plans for compliance within a reasonable timeframe

9.1.4 a central register of accessibility compliance statements should be maintained on

9.1.5 in consultation with relevant agencies, the lead agency should establish awards for agencies that recognise outstanding practice in the application of accessibility principles and guidelines impact of Government 2.0 tools to improve agency interactions with citizens, business and community groups.

Recommendation 10: Security and Web 2.0

10.1 The lead agency, in conjunction with DSD, should develop a better practice guide (or ‘how to’ guide) to assist agencies in the effective, efficient and secure use of Web 2.0 tools and how to undertake associated risk assessment.

10.2 The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) should provide guidance to agencies on the appropriate mitigation treatments that could be adopted to address concerns or exposures identified in relation to the use of social networking and related tools. This guidance should take into consideration the different environments in which agencies operate the varying risk profiles that exist and the range of tools that may be used. DSD should update the Information Security Manual (ISM) accordingly.

10.3 Sensitive and national security data requires special consideration in the context of PSI. To ensure consistency between PSI arrangements in the future and the proposed changes to the FOI Act, the proposed OIC should provide advice to agencies in relation to the treatment of PSI to enable its broadest possible release. Consistent with good practice, and the requirements of the Protective Security Manual (PSM), agencies must avoid the over classification of data so as to limit the need to review or pre-process data to enable its release.

Recommendation 11: Privacy and confidentiality

11.1 To protect the personal information of individuals included in PSI, the Privacy Commissioner should develop guidance on the de-identification of PSI before it is released.33

11.2 To protect the commercial-in-confidence information of businesses included in PSI, the proposed OIC should develop guidance on the de-identification of PSI.

Recommendation 12: Definition of Commonwealth Record

12.1 The taskforce recommends that government agencies wishing to use third party sites for the purposes of collaboration, service delivery or information dissemination, ensure that copies of records so generated are retained in the possession of the Commonwealth such that they satisfy the definition of Commonwealth Record in the Archives Act 1983. The government reviewed the property-based definition of Commonwealth Record in the Archives Act 1983, with a view to replacing it with a definition that defines Commonwealth records as any information created or received by the Commonwealth in the course of performing Commonwealth business.

12.2 To enable and assist the discovery, sharing and reuse of PSI, agencies should deploy endorsed metadata standards such as the AGLS Metadata Standard (AS 5044) together with whole of government taxonomies such as the Australian Government’s Interactive Functions Thesaurus (AGIFT) as outlined in the Australian Government’s Information Interoperability Framework. Wherever not being able to meet such standards would produce any appreciable delay of release, the data should be released provisionally and then updated with compliant metadata. Whenever not being able to meet such standards would appreciably delay the release of PSI, agencies should release non-compliant data until such time as they are able to comply with the standards.

Recommendation 13: Encourage info-philanthropy

Australian policy-makers should minimise obstacles to info-philanthropy being treated as an eligible activity to qualify for deductible gift recipient and other forms of legal status which recognise charitable or philanthropic purposes. Some of the most successful experiments in Government 2.0 have been fuelled by not-for-profits in leading countries such as the UK and the US. As part of their policy approach to recognise volunteers in the community, they should also ensure that online volunteers are appropriately recognised. ...

3 Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century or and Management Advisory Committee, Advancing Public Sector Innovation see or

7 In this report we use many examples of information which is generated principally by state or local government agencies. While our direct mandate is from the Australian Government, we have interpreted that mandate broadly. While our recommendations are, strictly speaking, recommendations to the Australian Government, many of the principles developed apply at the state level and all states are exploring the Government 2.0 agenda, though some are further advanced on the journey than others. We feel the use of such examples is useful both because the states control much of the data that affects people’s lives most closely and because data collected by state agencies can and should often be the subject of national information agendas (as in the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) agendas in education and health).

8 See: Table 1: Technology Deployment by Vertical Industry

10 Provided at no cost in the absence of substantial marginal costs.

11 The Semantic Web involves a vision of a machine-readable web, where intelligent agents would be capable of understanding data presented online by interpreting the accompanying metadata.

12 Supported by metadata that will aid in the understanding the quality and interpretability of the information.

14 Information for which the copyright is held by third parties who cannot be readily identified or located.

15 ‘Any data kept in an electronic record, where each piece of information has an assigned format and meaning.’

16 The building of public information goods and platforms for public benefit.

17 This is not to preclude the possibility of one of the listed agencies being or including the lead agency.

18 All departments of state and material agencies see or

19 The definition was introduced in Chapter 5 of this report. For ease of reference it is as follows: ‘information, including information products and services, generated, created, collected, processed, preserved, maintained, disseminated, or funded by or for the government or public institutions, taking into account [relevant] legal requirements and restrictions’.

20 Provided at no cost in the absence of substantial marginal costs.

21 Supported by metadata that will aid in the understanding the quality and interpretability of the information.

22 The Semantic Web involves a vision of a machine-readable web, where intelligent agents would be capable of understanding data presented online by interpreting the accompanying metadata.

23 Not having limitation on derivative uses.

25 A consistent clause should be developed by Department of Finance and Deregulation and inserted as a standing requirement of all Commonwealth Contracts — similarly to that used to ensure access and reporting by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

26 Any data kept in an electronic record, where each piece of information has an assigned format and meaning.

27 This would include, for example, the removal of specific fields or records. However, in considering appropriate treatments, agencies should avoid unduly compromising the potential value of the data that may be derived.

28 All departments of state and material agencies see or

32 This recommendation avoids specifying which version of WCAG is being referred to as a means of ensuring the recommendation refers to the most current version of the guidelines mandated by the government.

33 The Privacy Act 1988 provides for the Privacy Commissioner to prepare and publish guidelines on privacy under s 27(1)(e). The taskforce understands, however, that responsibility for this function would transfer to the Information Commissioner following proposed amendments to the Privacy Act and proposed new legislation to establish an Office of the Information Commissioner. In this event, responsibility for the preparation of guidance on de-identification of PSI as outlined in this recommendation should transfer to the Information Commissioner. ...

From: "Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0", Government 2.0 Taskforce, Department of Finance and Deregulation, 22 December 2009

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NBN Broadband Plan

NBN Co diagram of Fibre Serving Area, Indicative Access InfrastructureNBN Co have issued "NBN Co consultation paper: proposed wholesale fibre bitstream products" (21 December 2009) . Written submissions are invited by 12 February 2010 and Industry Briefing Sessions will be held in Sydney and Melbourne, on 20 and 29 January 2010. \

The paper is 27 pages (2.6Mbytes of PDF). It is very precisely, but clearly written. There are well executed technical diagrams. Of particular note is the diagram for "Fibre Serving Area – Indicative Access Infrastructure" illustrating the relationship between Multi Dwelling Units, Internal Fibre and Optical Network Termination. The only suggestion for improvement I could make is for NBN Co to produce a web version.

Of note:
  1. NBN Co plans to provide Ethernet: "It is NBN Co’s view that the Layer 2 products for mass-market fibre services should be based on Ethernet delivery, utilising GPON as the physical access technology. Please note that NBN Co has yet to define Layer 2 offers beyond the mass-market."
  2. NBN Plans support for voice, video and other QoS sensitive applications, with 4 classes of service.
  3. A Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is being considered with an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA) integrated within the Optical Network Termination (ONT).
  4. In its consultation process NBN Co. specifically mentions the Communications Alliance: "... NBN Co will continue to collaborate with industry as part of the Communications Alliance process."
  5. NBN Co intends to support multi-cast protocols, which allows for broadcast like services for IPTV and digital radio: "As NBN Co intends to deliver a multi-cast capability, some Layer 3 awareness will be required within the NBN to support the delivery of IPTV services."
Some excerpts from the paper:
  1. Introduction 3
  2. Building a fibre access network 6
  3. NBN Co’s overall product objectives 8
  4. Choice of layer in the vertical technology stack 9
  5. High level technology standards 12
  6. Location of Points of Interconnect for NBN Co wholesale fibre network 14
  7. NBN Co wholesale fibre bitstream products definition 17
  8. Important product elements 20
  9. Conclusion and next steps 24
1. Introduction Background
NBN Co’s role is to realise the Australian Government’s vision for the development of a next generation national broadband network. To do this successfully, we need to consult widely to ensure our plans for the network meet the current and future needs of our wholesale customers and the wider Australian community.

This Consultation Paper:
  • sets out the conceptual framework that will underpin the development of our proposed wholesale fibre bitstream products
  • focuses on the 90% of premises that are expected to receive high speed broadband services through fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology.1 It does not consider wholesale product offerings over wireless or satellite networks
  • outlines our current thinking on the design of the NBN Co fibre network and the wholesale bitstream products to be provided over that network
In particular, this paper will discuss:
  • the objectives that will underpin NBN Co’s development of its fibre wholesale products
  • the level in the vertical technology stack in which NBN Co intends to offer its fibre wholesale products
  • the high-level technology standards on which NBN Co will build its network
  • NBN Co’s proposed policy for determining the location of Points of Interconnect (PoIs)
  • an overview of the two fibre wholesale products that NBN Co intends to initially offer to its wholesale customers
  • the service features that are intended to be supported by NBN Co’s wholesale fibre products
This Consultation Paper does not attempt to outline the full details of NBN Co’s proposed wholesale fibre products, nor does it describe the various pricing structures of those products. The price structure of our wholesale fibre products will be presented to the industry during NBN Co’s consultation program that will take place in early 2010.

1 Note that in some deployment scenarios (e.g. Multi-Dwelling Units or MDUs) fibre will be delivered to the premises and distribution of services to individual units or service locations will occur via internal building wiring. The details of the MDU solution are not contained in this Product Consultation Paper.

Summary of NBN Co’s proposed wholesale fibre products
  • NBN Co plans to offer a wholesale Layer 2 bitstream product – in doing so, NBN Co will seek to occupy as small a footprint as possible in the overall value chain, leaving retail service providers (RSPs) with significant ability to innovate and develop new services in the higher levels of the value chain.
  • The location of PoIs will be optimised to support healthy competition among RSPs and align with contestable backhaul. For more densely populated areas, such as urban and regional centres, a “local” Point of Interconnection (PoI) is will be established for each Fibre Serving Area (FSA),2 while for less densely populated areas, a “district” PoI (which aggregates two or more FSAs together), will be established. If competitive backhaul is not available from a PoI, supplementary provision of backhaul may be required for a limited period of time to permit the emergence of competitive backhaul on these routes. Only one PoI will be available for any FSA. The number and location of PoIs is still to be determined.
NBN Co will offer its wholesale Layer 2 bitstream product in two forms:
  • the ––Local Ethernet Bitstream (LEB) product will provide our wholesale customers with a Layer-2 access service between the Optical Network Termination (ONT) at an end-user premises and a “local” PoI, located at the Fibre Access Node for the relevant FSA. The LEB product is likely to be offered in capital cities and regional centres. It is envisaged that the LEB product will be made available in respect of the significant proportion of FSAs in Australia.
  • the–– Aggregated Ethernet Bitstream (AEB) product is likely to be offered in rural areas where there are no competitive backhaul services below the PoI. The AEB product enables aggregated access to one or more FSAs via an aggregated link. The LEB product will not be available in locations where the AEB product is made available.
Both the LEB and AEB products offers will be based on an Ethernet platform, utilising Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) as the physical access technology. The technology will deliver a range of active service features including security and Quality of Service (QoS), as well as IP multicast.

Our wholesale products will support access by multiple RSPs, a range of customer premises • equipment (CPE) and will include an interface for analogue telephony. The detail of how these elements will be presented to our wholesale customers will be discussed in later consultation papers.

2 A Fibre Serving Area (FSA) is defined as the area covered by one or more Passive Optical Networks (PONs) terminating at the same “Fibre Access Node”.


2. Building a fibre access network

90 per cent of Australian premises are planned to be served by a fibre access network. While NBN Co is currently undertaking a detailed assessment, planning and design process, to facilitate the consultation program, an indicative configuration of the access network is set out in the
following diagram:

NBN Co diagram of Fibre Serving Area, Indicative Access Infrastructure


4. Choice of layer in the vertical technology stack

... NBN Co considers that a Layer 2 product is most closely aligned with NBN Co’s stated objectives and is most likely to facilitate the achievement of optimum competitive outcomes over the short-to-medium term. Layer 2 products are also most likely to support end-user choice and simplicity, while avoiding the downside risks associated with Layer 3 products, such as a lack of competitive differentiation and limited scope for innovation. ...

5. H High level technology standards

It is NBN Co’s view that the Layer 2 products for mass-market fibre services should be based on Ethernet delivery, utilising GPON as the physical access technology. Please note that NBN Co has yet to define Layer 2 offers beyond the mass-market. ...

Point to multipoint technologies (known as PON – passive optical networks) such as Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) and Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) provide a shared medium for customers, with only individual fibre tails post the splitter. In contrast, point-to-point optical networks provide customers with a full fibre for their exclusive use. ...

Do you believe this model will help foster participation by RSPs in less densely populated locations? What other barriers exist to participation by RSP in these locations? How might NBN Co help address them? Do you believe this model allow sufficient space for participation and investment by commercial backhaul players? What concerns may need to be managed? What criteria should be considered when determining whether the currently available backhaul to a particular proposed regional or district PoI is competitive? What criteria should be considered to assess the likelihood of competitive backhaul being developed in the near-term future at a regional or district location where present backhaul options are not yet deemed to be competitive?

7. NBN Co wholesale fibre bitstream products definition

A. The product offering
NBN Co is proposing to initially offer the following two FTTP products to the market:
1. Local Ethernet Bitstream (LEB)
2. Aggregated Ethernet Bitstream (AEB)
Essentially, both products have the same access capability, with the AEB service offering a short-haul aggregation service for those rural and regional areas where contestable backhaul options have not yet emerged. ...

8. I Important product elements

Traffic Management & Prioritisation

NBN Co’s product offering will provide QoS options to support voice, video and other QoS sensitive applications (although timing of these options is subject to current assessment). Ethernet and GPON provide the capabilities to support a QoS differentiated product. The LEB and AEB products will support 802.1p identification of Ethernet traffic priority. ...

At this stage NBN Co is planning to support 4 classes of service although it has not been determined when and how all options would become available. They are:

  • Provides guaranteed low levels of delay and jitter
  • Suitable for voice and other communicative services. This is the highest priority traffic
  • Assurances for the levels of jitter and packet loss
  • Suitable for video / VOD, including multicast services
  • This class provides a second highest priority of traffic
  • Provides a higher level of assurance than the best effort class, with lower probability of delay, jitter and congestion
  • Suitable for commercial data services, business grade data services
Best effort
  • No performance guarantees
  • Suitable for high speed internet
  • This is the lowest priority traffic and anticipated to carry high volumes of data with varying levels of performance according to instantaneous congestion

Voice Option

As a means to aid transition from current access technologies to the NBN, inclusion of Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) capability is being considered to support legacy telephony services.

It is proposed that this will be achieved via an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA) integrated within the Optical Network Termination (ONT). Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) will form the core of the interface definition for this capability. Further details of the implementation of the POTS capability will be released in due course. ...


Multicast is a technology whereby content transmitted simultaneously to two or more end users (e.g. IPTV programs) is carried as a single stream as far into the network as possible before being replicated (i.e. divided) and on-forwarded to end-users. Replication may occur at more than one point along the end to end path, resulting in a tree of replicated streams. The multicast technique can achieve significant bandwidth savings for the delivery of one-to-many services.

It is NBN Co’s intention to deliver a multicast capability, which will require the incorporation of some Layer 3 awareness to support its delivery. The details of multicast implementation are still under consideration. ...

This section outlines key elements of NBN Co’s planned product specification. Are there any other • technical parameters that should be included?
What multicast capabilities have service providers identified? Should the NBN Co access network proxy IGMP functionality and consolidate reporting before passing messages through to the service provider, or do particular services require access to all IGMP communications from all end users? In other words, should NBN Co manage multicast signalling scalability on behalf of the access seekers, or would this unacceptably limit the kinds of multicast services that are being contemplated? How to provide SPs with the ability to confirm connectivity and power? Whether standards are required for CPE installation, reporting and management to allow customer • self install, remote CPE configuration and downstream service provisioning? How to ensure continued support for smart grid and other public services such as safety, health and education? How should legacy voice services be provided? The benefits and disadvantages of integrating Pay TV capabilities into the ONT? The merits and disadvantages of an RF Overlay approach towards Pay TV versus an IP multicast approach?
Should battery backup capabilities, for the purpose of maintaining POTS (or optionally, data) • connectivity for a limited period of time following a power outage, be offered to end users at the time of ONT installation and should the choice be optional? How can the environmental costs be responsibly managed and how can the costs appropriately shared between end users and their chosen RSPs? How can end users be best educated to make an informed choice? ...

From: NBN Co consultation paper: proposed wholesale fibre bitstream products, NBN Co, 21 December 2009

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