Information publication scheme

1. Introduction

The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) has prepared this Information Publication Scheme (IPS) Plan in accordance with subsection 8(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act).

2. Purpose

The primary purpose of AFSA’s IPS Plan is to comply with subsection 8(1) of the FOI Act, and to assist AFSA to maintain appropriate procedures to proactively disclose its information holdings, in accordance with the objects of the FOI Act.

3. Objectives

AFSA’s objectives in relation to the IPS Plan are to outline appropriate mechanisms and procedures to:

  1. manage the information holdings relevant to the IPS
  2. proactively identify and publish all information required to be published under subsection 8(2) of the FOI Act (including this Plan)
  3. proactively identify and publish appropriate optional information under subsection 8(4) of the FOI Act
  4. review and ensure that information published under the IPS is accurate, up-to-date and complete, as required by section 8B of the FOI Act
  5. ensure that information published under the IPS is discoverable, understandable and, to the extent possible, re-useable
  6. ensure that the format of online content conforms with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Version 2)
  7. evaluate the usefulness and acceptance of AFSA’s IPS
  8. ensure AFSA’s clients, stakeholders and the general public are as fully-informed as possible about AFSA’s role and responsibilities and the way its powers are exercised and functions performed.

4. Implementing the Information Publication Scheme

Establishing an Information Publication Scheme Information publication scheme

AFSA’s approach to its IPS involves the following:

Appointing the Chief Operating Officer as the senior executive with responsibility for leading our work in overseeing FOI, including administering the IPS. He is supported in this role by AFSA’s FOI Coordinator as well as relevant members of our Communications team and our Information and Computer Technology services (ICT) team.

AFSA is working to continue improvements to its information asset management framework. As part of this, AFSA substantially redeveloped its website in 2016, with a view to making the information on the site more user-friendly, intuitive, accessible and understandable.

AFSA also has a Disclosure Log established for the purposes of section 11C of the FOI Act. The Disclosure Log lists the documents which have been released in response to successful FOI requests (however documents are usually removed after 12 months unless they have ongoing relevance or interest to the public). The Disclosure Log does not list documents to which section 11C does not apply – which includes documents containing personal or business information that it would be unreasonable to publish.

The Communications team has primary responsibility for monitoring the material that goes on both AFSA’s intranet and internet sites. In conjunction with the FOI coordinator and all of AFSA’s divisions, Communications identifies whether new material that is developed by the relevant divisions is required to be published under subsection 8(2) of the FOI Act, or is information that may be published under subsection 8(4) of that Act.

As part of the redevelopment of its website, and in order to comply with the AGIMO WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines, AFSA continues working to make the information it publishes easy to find, understandable, machine-readable, accessible and useable, as well as accurate, up-to-date and complete.

AFSA does not currently impose charges for accessing information it publishes, other than where the fee or charge is imposed by or under legislation. These legislative fees and charges are subject to a rigorous cost recovery analysis before being imposed [for more information, see our Cost Recovery Impact Statements and are subject to consultation with relevant stakeholders. They are transparently shown in a legislative instrument made by the Minister (the Attorney-General) known as the Bankruptcy (Fees and Remuneration) Determination – you can view the current Determination on the ComLaw website. AFSA also publishes a page showing the current Fees and Charges. Any non-statutory fees or charges that may be contemplated in the future will be subject to consultation before being imposed.

Information architecture

There is extensive information about AFSA’s functions and operations on our website. In addition, we have a range of ‘hard copy’ publications that are available on request from AFSA and from other sources, such as financial counsellors.

AFSA’s Annual Report (which, since 2011-12, includes the Inspector-General in Bankruptcy’s Annual Report into the Operation of the Bankruptcy Act 1966) is provided to the Commonwealth Library Deposit and Free Issue Schemes.

AFSA also maintains two public registers:

  • the National Personal Insolvency Index (NPII), which is a register containing certain information about people who are, or have been, subject to personal insolvency arrangements, along with information about registered insolvency practitioners; and
  • the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), which is a register showing details of security interests in personal property.

Both the NPII and the PPSR may be searched by the public for a fee.

AFSA’s publications are generally made available in PDF format. Some are also available in other formats such as HTML, Word and RTF. The standard language of these publications is English.

Information required to be published

Under subsection 8(2) of the FOI Act, certain information is required to be published by Commonwealth Government departments and agencies. To meet this requirement, AFSA publishes the following information:

  1. This IPS plan
  2. Who we are – this includes information about AFSA’s organisational structure and statutory office holders, the Inspector-General in Bankruptcy, the Official Receivers and the Registrar of Personal Property Securities
  3. What we do – this includes information about AFSA’s functions and powers, and ‘operational information’ including rules, guidelines, practices and precedents that assist us to make decisions and recommendations affecting members of the public. This information is contained in our Annual Report; Client Service Charter and in our Practices.
  4. Our reports and responses to Parliament – this includes our Annual Reports and other documents required by law to be tabled in Parliament, including in accordance with Senate Standing orders, such as the File Lists for the Senate Continuing Order.
  5. Consultation arrangements – this includes information on how to make representations or submissions to AFSA about policy proposals or other issues. This information is contained in our Client Service Charter – see in particular the sections on ‘Feedback’ and ‘How to Contact us'
  6. Who to contact in AFSA about FOI matters and information about making an FOI request.

Optional information

Under subsection 8(4) of the FOI Act, it is open to departments and agencies to publish other information beyond that required by subsection 8(2). AFSA publishes the following information relevant to subsection 8(4):

  1. Business & Corporate Plan
  2. Portfolio Budget Statement
  3. Reconciliation Action Plan
  4. Client Service Charter
  5. Annual Procurement Plan (from Austender website)
  6. Enterprise Agreement [PDF]
  7. Bankruptcy statistics, Debtor Profiles report and other corporate and client publications.

Administering AFSA’s IPS

AFSA is committed to ensuring that its information asset management framework not only meets legislative requirements, but also provides real benefit to its clients and the general public.

Apart from the formal review of its IPS compliance (see below), AFSA will review this IPS plan and the information published under the plan on an ongoing basis to ensure it remains up-to-date, accurate, accessible and understandable. This will include, but not be limited to, ensuring that the information we are required to publish under subsection 8(2) of the FOI Act and the optional information we publish pursuant to subsection 8(4) of that Act is regularly monitored.

AFSA welcomes feedback on the IPS plan and its information asset management framework in general. Comments can be made by completing the Enquiry/Feedback/Complaint form on our website.

Review

AFSA proposes to complete a review of its IPS compliance by 1 May 2016, to be undertaken in conjunction with the Information Commissioner1.

Without pre-empting the outcome of that review, AFSA considers criteria that will measure our success in complying with the IPS requirements might include:

  • A low level of complaints regarding the transparency of AFSA’s processes, including how it performs its functions and exercises its powers; and
  • Positive feedback from clients and stakeholders regarding their dealings with AFSA, so far as those dealings relate to the accessibility and quality of information.

1 - The Government announced in the 2014 Budget that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner was to be abolished.  As at 02 June 2015 legislation to effect the abolition had not been enacted.