The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is an agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) and is required to comply with the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) requirements. This agency plan describes how DVA proposes to do this, as required by s 8(1) of the FOI Act.
The IPS involves the publication of certain mandatory information on government agency websites, and also encourages agencies to consider the proactive publication of other information. The IPS is intended to foster a pro-disclosure culture across government, increasing transparency in government processes. This is in recognition of the principle that information held by the government is a national resource to be managed for public purposes.
DVA’s agency plan describes how the Department proposes to implement and administer the IPS in respect of its own information holdings, by defining:
- DVA’s IPS contribution
- information architecture
- information required to be published
- optional information to be published
- accessibility to information published
- IPS compliance review.
The Veterans’ Affairs portfolio is made up of a number of agencies and bodies responsible for carrying out government policy and implementing programs to fulfil Australia’s obligations to war veterans, members of the Australian Defence force and their dependants. They are:
- Repatriation Commission
- Military Rehabilitations and Compensation Commission
- Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service
- Office of Australian War Graves
- Veterans’ Children Education Board
- Veterans’ Review Board
- Repatriation Medical Authority
- Specialist Medical Review Council
- Australian War Memorial
DVA is the primary service delivery agency, responsible for developing and implementing programs that assist the veteran and defence force communities. The Department’s day to day activities are directed by two Commissions – the Repatriation Commission and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission. These two bodies hold most of the powers under portfolio legislation which in turn are delegated to officers of the Department.
This agency plan and DVA’s response to the IPS incorporates the IPS response of a number of the entities listed above, while some have responded separately.
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The purpose of DVA’s agency plan is to:
- comply with s 8(1) of the FOI Act by showing what information DVA holds and proposes to publish, how and to whom DVA proposes to publish information, and how DVA otherwise proposes to comply with this requirement
- assist DVA in defining its contribution to the IPS
- assist DVA in putting appropriate procedures in place to proactively disclose its information holdings, in accordance with the objects of the FOI Act.
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DVA’s objectives are to outline appropriate mechanisms and procedures to:
- manage the Department’s information holdings relevant to the IPS
- proactively identify and publish all information required to be published in accordance with s 8(2)
- proactively identify and publish all optional information in accordance with s 8(4)
- review and ensure on a regular basis that information published under the IPS is accurate, up-to date and complete in accordance with s 8B
- ensure that information published under the IPS is discoverable, understandable, machine-readable, re-useable and transformable
- ensure that the format of online content conforms with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Version 2) (WCAG 2.0)
- measure the success of the DVA’s IPS contribution by reference to community feedback and compliance review processes
- adopt best practice initiatives in implementing and administering DVA’s contribution to the IPS.
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Establishing and administering the IPS
(a) Establishing DVA’s IPS contribution by 1 May 2011
The Principal Legal Adviser is responsible for leading DVA’s work on implementing FOI reforms, including establishing and administering the IPS.
The staff involved in establishing DVA’s contribution to the IPS by 1 May 2011 include:
- relevant FOI staff
- staff with information technology and web publishing expertise to build the IPS page of the Department’s website and publish the relevant documents
- staff from all business areas of the Department to assist in the identification of operational information.
DVA has developed a register of information required or permitted to be published under the IPS.
To prepare the register of information, DVA has:
- audited documents currently published on the DVA website and identified the documents that will form part of the IPS from 1 May 2011
- created a list of IPS related documents through consultation with the business areas of the Department
- identified the current location and format of IPS related documents
- identified any IPS related documents that are not accurate, up to date or complete
- identified the business areas responsible for reviewing and updating IPS related documents.
DVA has developed a disclosure log for the IPS page of the Department’s website that will be operational from 1 May 2011. The disclosure log will list information that has been provided in response to FOI requests, subject to the exceptions contained in s 11C of the FOI Act. This information will be published within 10 working days of the release to the applicant as required by s 11C(6) of the FOI Act. The entries on the disclosure log will remain visible for 12 months. Where practical reasons prevent DVA from making the information on the disclosure log downloadable from the website, or publishing a link to another website from which the information can be downloaded, DVA intends to comply with the disclosure log requirements in the FOI Act by giving details of how the information listed in the disclosure log may be obtained.
Where information listed in the disclosure log is made available for downloading, DVA will impose charges for access to documents when a request is made for that information to be provided in another format, in accordance with the table at Annexure A. These charges will be levied in order to reimburse the agency for specific reduction costs, or other specific incidental costs, incurred in giving the person access to that information, in accordance with s 8(D)(4) of the FOI Act.
(b) Administering information published under the IPS from 1 May 2011
From 1 May 2011, DVA’s ongoing compliance with the IPS will be coordinated by the Department’s Principal Legal Advisor, with support from the Legal Services and Assurance Division and the Parliamentary and Communication Group.
DVA will update the IPS page of the Department’s website intermittently as further information that is required and permitted to be published under ss 8(2), 8(4) and 8A(2) is identified. The Department will conduct periodic reviews of its information holdings in order to identify further information that is required and permitted to be published, as well as endeavour to ensure that the documents on the IPS page are accurate, up-to-date and complete.
DVA will, as far as is practical, take steps to ensure that information published under the scheme is discoverable, understandable, machine-readable, accessible and useable. The Department intends that all documents available on its IPS page will conform with WCAG 2.0 within the timeframes set out in those Guidelines.
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The IPS information holdings that are available on the DVA website will be published under the following headings:
- Agency plan
- Who we are
- What we do
- Our reports and responses to Parliament
- Routinely requested information and disclosure log
- Consultation arrangements
- Other information
- Our priorities
- Our finances
- Our lists
- Our policies
- Contact us
To ensure that the IPS information holdings (and individual IPS documents) are discoverable and accessible, DVA will:
- publish the IPS icon approved by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) on the homepage of DVA’s website, which will link to the IPS page of DVA’s website
- publish the disclosure log icon approved by the OAIC on the IPS page of DVA’s website.
DVA will make its IPS documents available for download via the IPS page of the Department’s website where possible. Otherwise, DVA will either publish a link to a page where the information can be downloaded, or will provide information as to how that document may be obtained by contacting the Department.
DVA, will, so far as possible, make its IPS information holdings available for reuse on open licensing terms.
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Information required to be published
DVA will publish documents required to be published under the IPS (s 8(2)) on the IPS page of the Department’s website.
DVA will publish these documents under the following headings:
- This is a requirement under s 8(2)(a) of the FOI Act.
- The agency plan shows how the Department proposes to implement the IPS requirements.
Who we are
- This incorporates the requirements under ss 8(2)(b) and 8(2)(d) of the FOI Act.
- This will include an organisational chart and information about statutory appointments.
- For statutory appointees, DVA will publish the name of the person appointed, the length or term of the appointment, the position to which the person is appointed (and particulars of the position) and the provision of the Act under which the person is appointed.
What we do
- This incorporates the requirements under ss 8(2)(c) and 8(2)(j) of the FOI Act.
- This will outline the functions and decision making powers of DVA, the Repatriation Commission, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, and the Specialist Medical Review Council.
- DVA will also publish rules, guidelines, practices and precedents that assist in the making of decisions or recommendations relating to these functions and powers that affect members of the public.
Our reports and responses to Parliament
- This incorporates the requirements under ss 8(2)(e) and 8(2)(h) of the FOI Act.
- This will include the full text of DVA’s annual reports from 2008-2009, tabled in Parliament.
- This will also include documents required by law to be tabled in Parliament and documents routinely tabled in accordance with Senate Standing Orders.
Routinely requested information and disclosure log
- This incorporates the requirements under ss 8(2)(g) and 11C of the FOI Act.
- This will include information in documents to which DVA routinely gives access in response to FOI requests.
- DVA will clearly identify these documents in its disclosure log, published under s 11C of the FOI Act – which requires agencies to publish information contained in documents to which the agency has provided access under the FOI Act.
- This is a requirement under s 8(2)(f) of the FOI Act.
- This will include information about how and to whom a comment may be submitted by members of the public, where DVA undertakes public consultation on a specific policy proposal.
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DVA will publish on the IPS page of its website other information that it holds, taking into account the objects of s 8(4) of the FOI Act.
DVA will publish such optional information under the heading 'Other information' and the following sub-headings:
- This will include corporate and strategic plans.
- This will include financial information relating to pay and grading structures, procurement procedures, tendering and contracts.
- This will include agency contracts, grants and appointments, and links to data sets.
- This will include DVA's procurement, email and internet usage, harassment, maternity leave and workplace diversity policies.
In addition, on the IPS page of the Department's website, DVA will publish a link to other publications not covered by these headings, including fact sheets, speeches and guidelines.
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Accessibility under the IPS
The IPS page of the Department’s website will state that where a document referenced is not yet available in an accessible format, it will be made available in an accessible format on request, by contacting: information.access [at] dva.gov.au
As far as in practical, documents listed on the IPS page of the Department’s website will be converted into HTML to meet accessibility requirements. Exceptions may apply to:
- PDFs made of images of scanned documents
- documents that are out of date, but that are provided for historical reference (these will be supplied in the formats in which they are currently available)
- charts, tables and forms (these can be supplied in accessible formats on request).
Where possible, documents covered by these exceptions will be published in two alternative formats.
DVA continues to work toward WCAG 2.0 compliance at the minimum compliance level (Single A) by the end of 2012, and medium conformance level (Double A) by the end of 2014, as required by the Web Accessibility National Transition strategy. DVA will also ensure that all new documents to be published on the IPS page after 1 May 2011 conform with WCAG 2.0 within these timeframes.
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DVA will review and revise this agency plan at least annually.
DVA will review the operation of its IPS every six months for the first two years following the commencement of the IPS, and every 12 months thereafter. DVA will also conduct a review in conjunction with the OAIC at least every five years, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Information Commissioner about IPS compliance review.
The success of DVA’s compliance with the IPS requirements will be measured by public feedback, as well as by an overall reduction in the number of requests for information received by DVA.
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Access charges for documents not available on the website:
||10 cents per page
|Copy (other than photocopy)
||$4.40 per page
|Copy of the document in the form of a computer tape or a computer disk
||An amount not exceeding the actual costs incurred by DVA in producing the copy
|Copy of the document to be sent to the applicant by post or delivered to the applicant
||An amount not exceeding the cost of postage or delivery
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