A Proposal to the Taskforce

Update: See the end for an update

Around September 2009 as the Government 2.0 Taskforce was coming towards the end of its term a few months later, Nicholas Gruen, the chair of the Taskforce, let us know that they were likely to have a significant amount of money left unspent at the end of their term.

He suggested that we apply to get that money, in a “one pager” when everything wrapped up.

I accidentally came across this email today while I was looking for something else and thought that it expressed a number of things quite well that we’ve been trying to achieve as well as throwing a few solid practical ideas into the mix.

We know that there was a lot of support for this proposal within the Taskforce itself. So, we were intrigued and a little deflated when this went no further.

I’m curious to know what happened to all that money. Maybe a cause for a Freedom of Information request?

This is was our proposal to the Taskforce:

When the Taskforce wraps up at the end of the year, we propose the Taskforce disburse any remaining unallocated funds by making a one off donation to the OpenAustralia Foundation.

OpenAustralia Foundation is a recently endorsed Charitable Institution in Australia. It is founded in the spirit of the UK’s mySociety and the USA’s Sunlight Foundation.

We work on making information from public bodies more accessible and useful for all Australians. OpenAustralia Foundation was started by the founders of the strictly non-partisan parliamentary transparency website http://www.openaustralia.org. Over the 15 months since it’s public launch the site has gained widespread acceptance and support with the public, government and across the political spectrum.

We are committed to lightweight organisation, open collaborative work and the production and promotion of useful and free tools for all Australians. We connect government, commercial and social enterprises. We are actively growing a volunteer community of people creating tools and mashups of information from government and public bodies, for the public good.

eg. Sydney Hackfest – facilitated by OpenAustralia, hosted/sponsored by Google, attended by technical community, using Government data for wider benefit of Australian people.

With grants and donated funds we can extend this good work. We would like to further help kick start new projects, enable and encourage others to take part in opening up democratic processes, and improve access to information from publicly funded organisations.

The OpenAustralia Foundation is a good vehicle to continue the aims and objectives of the Taskforce beyond the end of the year. Our objects, our endorsement as a charitable organisation, as well our commitment to financial transparency all reinforce this.

Seed funding to the OpenAustralia Foundation would be used to:

  • Fund at least one full time paid position for the OpenAustralia Foundation to work on things like project management, fundraising, volunteer coordination, education and outreach programmes.
  • Fund a modest office with space for at least one open “hot-desk” for anyone working in the area of government 2.0, transparency, public and government data to use for free.
  • As part of the office, create an “Office of Ideas”, a physical base where we can showcase our work, hold talks meetings and generally invite others in.
  • More easily connect with and activate technical communities in more states/territories by covering some interstate travel. Currently most success to date in engaging volunteers has been in our home city of Sydney where we have spent most time with them.
  • Give some money away as small grants like Sunlight do. http://www.sunlightfoundation.com/grants/application/

Seed funding would significantly expand our ability to start and improve projects.

In conclusion, we’ve given a significant personal investment over the last 18 months in creating our pilot project http://www.openaustralia.org and founding the OpenAustralia Foundation. We think we’ve done quite well so far. Help us take this, our fledgling Foundation, to the next level, and create a new playground for innovation and engagement in Australia. We’re already doing it, so do you want to help?

Update

After this post went up we were delighted to see John Sheridan, First Assistant Secretary, Agency Services at Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) came back straight away with some extremely helpful information that is very directly relevant. See the comment at the end.

There was $1m remaining when the Taskforce wound up and Microsoft decided to give that to the Government. That was split between the Attorney General’s Department, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and AGIMO.

It was also reported in the IT press.

Thanks John!

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2 Comments

  1. Posted September 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Hi, There was $1m remaining. Microsoft decided to gift it to the Government as described here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/govtech/archive/2010/10/26/microsoft-backs-gov-2-0-with-1m.aspx

    Microsoft also provided $400k to broadband research:
    http://www.microsoft.com/australia/presspass/post/Microsoft-contributes-24400000-for-research-into-broadband-applications

    The $1m was allocated between the Attorney General’s Department, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and AGIMO to fund the cost of progressing the initiatives to which the Government agreed in responding to the Task Force’s report. The gift was reported in the IT press e.g. http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/365616/updated_microsoft_forks_1_mil_gov_2_0/

    Regards,

    John

  2. matthew
    Posted September 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    John,

    Thanks very much for the information. Extremely helpful!

    All the best,
    Matthew

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