The Australian Army

Information Publication Scheme

Established as part of the FOI Act, the Information Publication Scheme or IPS, requires agencies to publish a broad range of information on their websites, and to make that information available online where possible. You can find out more about the Information Publication Scheme at the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

The Plan detailed below describes how the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund (Army Relief Trust Fund – ARTF) proposes to implement and administer the IPS in respect of its own information holdings.

Information Publication Scheme Plan

Introduction

  1. Reforms to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) in November 2010 established an Information Publication Scheme, to operate from 1 May 2011, which forms the basis for an open and transparent culture across government. The Scheme will allow the FOI Act to evolve as a legislative framework for giving access to information through agency-driven disclosure rather than as a Scheme that is primarily reactive to requests for documents.

Purpose

  1. The ARTF must comply with section 8(1) of the FOI Act which requires Commonwealth agencies to adopt an Information Publication Scheme.
  2. The principle underlying an Information Publication Scheme is that government information is a national resource to be managed for public purposes. The Government’s intention is that open and free access to government information will provide the public with a better understanding of how government makes decisions and administers programs. This access is designed to increase scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of government activities and enable informed community participation in government processes, which contributes to better policy and decisions. Transparency can also lessen the risk that people will be disadvantaged in their dealings with government through lack of knowledge or a misunderstanding of government processes.
  3. Agencies are required to facilitate and promote public access to information promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost. Agencies are also required to keep the information accurate, up to date and complete.

Objectives

  1. This Information Publication Scheme Plan outlines the mechanisms and procedures the ARTF is required to undertake in managing and making available information. This includes:
    1. creating an Information Management Strategic Framework to provide a base set of principles to actively identify, manage and, where appropriate, disclose ARTF information;
    2. establishing a Web Information Capability to provide a coordinated approach for ARTF’s online communication requirements;
    3. identifying all information required to be published;
    4. regularly reviewing information published under the Scheme to ensure that it is accurate, up to date and complete, and publishing compliance statistics;
    5. ensuring that online content conforms with the Government’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Version 2 (WCAG 2.0); and
    6. developing a mechanism and procedures to measure the success of the ARTF’s Scheme.
  2. Our aim is to reduce the number of formal requests under the FOI Act by making information that is routinely sought readily available and accessible.
  3. The ARTF has taken a number of steps towards the establishment of the Scheme, including:
    1. identifying the Secretary to the Trustees as the strategic manager of Freedom of Information processes, the Information Publication Scheme, and corporate information management more generally;
    2. developing a register of information that is required to be published under the Scheme and a Disclosure Log of documents released in response to FOI requests;
    3. analysing routine requests that are made under FOI or provided to Parliament and assessing whether further explanatory information should be publicly released; and
    4. managing online web compliance measures, including web analytics to ensure that information published under the Scheme is easy to find, understandable, accessible and useable, as well as accurate, up to date and complete.
  4. As the purpose of the Scheme is to make the maximum amount of information readily available at minimum inconvenience and cost to the public, the ARTF will not charge for information provided by email. If information is requested in paper format, or another electronic format such as CD or DVD, it may be necessary to impose a small charge: for example, if a large amount of photocopying is required, or if the cost of postage of a large volume of paperwork is very high.

Information Management

  1. The initial point of entry for access to ARTF information is the ARTF homepage www.armyrtf.com.au which hosts the Information Publication Scheme webpage. This webpage comprises links to specific documents required to be published and links to information on other agency websites as appropriate.
  2. All online information will take into account WCAG 2.0 requirements. As far as possible, information will be published in HTML, MSWord and PDF formats with an option for printed information to be provided on request.
  3. Under section 8 of the FOI Act, from 1 May 2011, all Commonwealth agencies are required to provide access to certain defined information. As part of assessing what information should be made available, ARTF will have regard to the objects of the FOI Act, and guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner.
  4. ARTF will publish:
    • a plan for the Information Publication Scheme;
    • an organisational profile setting out the structure of the organisation;
    • details of our functions, including decision-making powers and other powers affecting members of the public;
    • details of appointments of officers made under Acts – such as appointments of statutory officers;
    • our annual reports;
    • information which ARTF routinely or regularly releases in response to FOI requests. This requirement complements the ‘disclosure log’ requirement explained in paragraph 13 below;
    • information which ARTF routinely provides to the Parliament in response to requests and orders;
    • details of officers who can be contacted about access to information or documents under the FOI Act; and
    • our operational information insofar as it extends to our exercising functions and powers in making decisions or recommendations which affect members of the public – for example, any rules, guidelines, practices or precedents relating to those decisions or recommendations.
  5. In addition, under section 11C of the FOI Act, ARTF is required to publish a ‘disclosure log’ identifying documents which it has released under the Act, subject to limitations to protect personal and business information or other information that the Australian Information Commissioner may determine is unreasonable to publish. ARTF will publish on its website, within 10 working days of release, copies of the documents released in PDF format which may be downloaded, as well as details of how those documents may be obtained in alternative formats. In the main, this is a free service, but ARTF may impose a charge in line with paragraph 8 above.
  6. ARTF will publish contact information online for both FOI and Information Publication Scheme processes, which will include telephone contacts, email and postal addresses.
  7. An agency is not required to publish exempt matter. An agency is also not required to publish information if prohibited by another enactment.
  8. The information (or details of how to access the information) will be published on the ARTF’s website.
  9. If there is a charge for accessing that information, ARTF will publish details of the charge.

Review

  1. The ARTF will review the operation of the Information Publication Scheme annually and update its plan each year. We will ensure that online information, in all formats, is regularly reviewed for currency and accuracy. Outdated information will be replaced or archived.
  2. An analysis of web statistics will allow informed decisions as to the effectiveness of providing information online and the type of information being sought.
  3. The success of the Information Publication Scheme will be gauged by public feedback, less requests for general information and an overall reduction in FOI requests.
  4. The ARTF will, in conjunction with the Information Commissioner, review the operation of the scheme in the agency every five years (if not earlier).

Comments Invited

The ARTF invites written comment on our Information Publication Scheme by email or by post to:

Secretary, Army Relief Trust Fund
Department of Defence
R1-3-A080
PO Box 7901
CANBERRA BC ACT 2610