Office of the Australian Information Commissioner launches

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has been officially launched with the mission of championing open government.

The office, headed by the Australian Information Commissioner, Professor John McMillan, was officially launched by Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information (FOI), Brendan O’Connor this week, and encompasses the existing Office of the Privacy Commissioner as well oversight over Freedom of Information access.

The existing Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, will continue on in his role, but a third statutory officer for the Freedom of Information aspect is yet to be announced.

"The OAIC fills a major gap in the system,” McMillan said in a statement. “We will champion open government, provide advice and assistance to the public and promote better information management by government.

“Our Office will have a comprehensive range of functions, including investigating complaints, reviewing agency FOI decisions, education and awareness, and reporting on compliance.”

McMillan said the office would also have a role in advising government on information policy and practice and would be informed by community feedback on the Towards an Australian Government Information Policy issue paper.

The paper details policy initiatives and reforms and provides a snapshot of Australian Government information policy as it stands at the time of the establishment of the OAIC.

Commenting on the launch of the office in a blog post, Senator Kate Lundy wrote that the OAIC would play an important leadership role for government agencies and departments in improving the transparency, accountability and the public record of the Australian Government.

“Australia is doing some amazing work in using the Internet, new technologies and new methods to engage meaningfully with the public to make government more open, engaging and participatory,” the post reads.

As reported by Computerworld Australia The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, recently told a Senate inquiry that any talks about a data retention regime from organisations or government needed to be consistent and accountable to stakeholders.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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