Policy guidelines for the development and promotion of governmental public domain information

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II.4. Third key element: Develop and implement a comprehensive governmental public Information Policy Framework for the management and dissemination of public information resources

The third major aspect of public information policy is a comprehensive national Information Policy Framework that addresses information management and dissemination.32 This framework should be broad enough to encompass information in both paper and digital formats, and should provide special guidance regarding electronic management and dissemination. The policy framework outlined below identifies only the high-level principles, issues, and objectives, and concludes with an outline of the main procedural considerations for implementation. Specific details based on each country’s situation and needs must be developed as appropriate. However, the focus should always be on producing and disseminating public information that meets the needs of citizens as openly and inexpensively as possible, with special attention to multicultural or disadvantaged communities.
Three main areas of action need to be addressed in developing the national public Information Policy Framework:

  • Creating the appropriate public information management structure;

  • Defining the public information management policy requirements; and

  • Adopting strategies on information systems and information technology management.

II.4.1. Creating the appropriate public information management structure

The creation of an effective management structure requires:

  • Assignment of key responsibilities;

  • Development of a workforce capable of effectively implementing policy and managing the national public information infrastructure; and

  • Determination and allocation of the appropriate budgets.

II.4.1.1. Assignment of key responsibilities

Assignment of the major responsibilities from the highest to the operational levels has to be appropriately structured and organized, as follows:
a. Establishment of a high-level executive office for national public information policy
There are several compelling reasons for creating a high-level oversight and coordination position. First, a national information policy requires a comprehensive vision supporting common goals and aspirations. Second, the ability to create a national policy framework for access to information requires a national authority. Third, a high-level arbiter is needed to resolve disputes between government organizations, in order to ensure that the national interest will prevail over the parochial interests of administrative entities that only serve the needs of their specific organization. Finally, overseeing and coordinating the public information policy for the nation, while reducing bureaucracy and administrative inefficiency, requires strong leadership.
Therefore, the direction of the development, implementation, coordination, and oversight of the public Information Policy Framework at the national level requires the establishment of an office and the appointment of an individual and a related office at a high level in the executive branch of government, together with a budget and mandate sufficient to carry out the assigned tasks. This person may be called the Director of National Information Policy and Programmes (referred to as “the Director” below) or some equivalent title, reporting directly to the chief executive of the nation. The Director would also be the chair of a governmental Council of Chief Information Officers, whose individual functions are described below.
b. Designation of a Chief Information Officer in each major government organization

Every major government organization should appoint a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and supporting staff who will:

    1. Have primary responsibility for managing the organization’s information resources and technical infrastructure.

    2. Ensure that the information policies, principles, standards, guidelines, rules, and regulations prescribed by the overarching national policy are implemented appropriately.

    3. Develop internal organizational information policies and procedures, and oversee, evaluate, and otherwise periodically review the organization’s information resources management activities for conformity with the established national policies.

    4. Oversee the acquisition and inventory of the information technology for the entire organization.

    5. Implement and enforce applicable records management policies and procedures, including requirements for archiving information maintained in electronic format, particularly in the planning, design and operation of information systems.

    6. Identify to the Director any statutory, regulatory, and other impediments to efficient management of the government’s information resources and recommend to the Director legislation, policies, procedures, and other measures to improve such management.

    7. Support the work of the Director by making services, personnel, and facilities available for specific tasks and high-level projects, to the extent practicable.

    8. Prepare and present to the Director an annual report on the organization’s implementation of the national information policy, including a description of instances of failure to comply with the policy and their resolution.

c. Designation of a Chief Information Officer in each major local public entity
Local public information programmes also need to be developed and implemented, taking account of the national Information Policy Framework. Locally appointed CIOs, in local governing bodies and administrative entities, should be in charge of defining and applying local policies, consistent with and in coordination with the information policy at the national level.
d. Establishment of responsible entities for other specific functions
Additional offices or positions may need to be created to fully implement all elements of the national Information Policy Framework and related programmes. These should be assessed systematically. It is vital for the success of the information policy that the workforce be able to provide the proper knowledge, abilities and expertise in all key functional areas, as defined in sections II.4.2 and II.4.3 below.

II.4.1.2. Developing an effective work force

In order to enable the nation to effectively promote access to and dissemination of public information on a continuing basis, the government needs to institute policies and programmes to prepare a sufficient number of future graduates and young professionals to apply and maintain all aspects of information policy. Toward this end, the Director and the Council of CIOs should work with the education sector to ensure that this requirement receives adequate attention. Opportunities for continuing education and lifelong learning should be developed for the existing workforce as well.

II.4.1.3. Determining and allocating the appropriate budgets

The Director, in consultation with the Council of CIOs, must determine an annual budget for implementing all the priority elements of the national Information Policy Framework, and allocate it as appropriate. The development of multi-year budget projections should be part of the annual budget planning process as well.

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