Information Publication Scheme Agency Plan

Last updated:27 June 2014

1. Introduction

Geoscience Australia is Australia's national geoscience research and geospatial information agency. Located within the Industry and Science portfolio, Geoscience Australia is an agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) and is required to comply with the requirements of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) (the Scheme) as of 1 May, 2011.

This agency plan describes how the Geoscience Australia proposes to do this, as required by s 8(1) of the FOI Act. This plan describes how Geoscience Australia proposes to implement and administer its IPS entry in respect of its own information holdings, by addressing:

  • establishing and administering Geoscience Australia's IPS entry
  • IPS information architecture
  • information required to be published
  • other information to be published
  • IPS compliance review.

Geoscience Australia will continue to build and foster a culture within the agency, in which appropriate proactive disclosure of its information holdings is embraced, leading to successful implementation and administration of its IPS entry. This is in recognition that public sector information is a national resource, managed for public purposes.

All references to sections in this Plan are to sections of the FOI Act.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this agency plan is to:

  • assist Geoscience Australia in planning and developing its IPS entry
  • facilitate public consultation about that contribution
  • show what information the agency proposes to publish
  • how and to whom the information will be published, and
  • how Geoscience Australia will otherwise comply with the IPS requirements (s 8(1)).

The Plan will help Geoscience Australia to put in place appropriate procedures to proactively disclose its information holdings, in accordance with the objects of the FOI Act.

3. Objectives

Geoscience Australia's objectives are to outline appropriate mechanisms and procedures to:

  • manage its IPS entry
  • proactively identify and publish all information required to be published (s 8(2))
  • proactively identify and publish any other information to be published (s 8(4))
  • review and ensure on a regular basis that information published as part of its IPS entry is accurate, up to date and complete (s 8B)
  • ensure that information published as part of its IPS entry is easily discoverable, understandable, machine-readable, re-useable and transformable
  • ensure satisfactory conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines(Version 2) (WCAG 2.0)
  • measure the success of the Geoscience Australia' s IPS entry by reference to community feedback and compliance review processes
  • adopt best practice initiatives in implementing and administering Geoscience Australia's IPS entry.

4. Administering Geoscience Australia's IPS Entry

The General Manager, Corporate is responsible for leading Geoscience Australia's work on IPS compliance and implementing the 2010 FOI reforms generally. This includes establishing, developing and maintaining the Scheme at Geoscience Australia in accordance with any assistance or guidelines provided by the Information Commissioner, and ensuring that all requests for access to documents of Geoscience Australia received from 1 November 2010 are processed in accordance with the amended FOI Act.

From 1 May 2011, Geoscience Australia is required to publish and make publicly available a range of information. The information required to be published is specified in section 8(2).

Prior to the implementation of the scheme Geoscience Australia had published a range of a material on its website, which to a large extent satisfied the requirements of Division 2.

This material included:

  • information regarding scientific topics on title page
  • Geoscience Australia's Strategic Plan and a statement of Geoscience Australia's role
  • information on Geoscience Australia's Executive Board
  • Geoscience Australia organisational structure, management team and business groups
  • the Geoscience Australia Work Program which outlines each operational division's programs, strategic alliances, corporate documentation, publications, registers and current issues and activities
  • the Geoscience Australia Service Charter
  • Freedom of Information arrangements, including consultant services reporting
  • the Portfolio Budget Statements and Geoscience Australia's Annual Reports
  • our Facilities
  • our Associated Partners and parent department
  • our History
  • events being hosted by Geoscience Australia
  • current Ministerial media releases in the Media Centre; and
  • contact details for Geoscience Australia and Portfolio agency offices.

Geoscience Australia's ongoing compliance with the IPS will be coordinated by the Records Management Unit (RMU), or as otherwise authorised by the General Manager, Corporate.

The RMU will be responsible for the ongoing administration of the scheme within Geoscience Australia, including implementing, reviewing and revising this plan and Geoscience Australia's IPS entry generally, in accordance with the requirements of the FOI Act and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's (OAIC) IPS Compliance Program.

Website editorial staff in liaison with the RMU will be responsible for publishing and maintaining the online content of Geoscience Australia's IPS entry in accordance with government standards. Geoscience Australia's IPS entry will be maintained through the agencies' Web Content Approval System.

Corporate Services will periodically request all operational units to review their contributions to the website and to:

  • certify that the information currently on the website is the sum total of information available that can and should be made available to the public and stakeholders in accordance with the FOI Act
  • certify that the information currently on the website is accurate, complete and up to date
  • reassess what documents are routinely requested under the FOI Act, with a view to proactively publishing it on the website.

Corporate Services, in consultation with business areas, is developing an IPS training and awareness strategy to assist the agency in better understanding its responsibilities in relation to the IPS, and the FOI Act generally.

5. IPS Information Architecture

Geoscience Australia will publish information to members of the public through its website or will otherwise notify how the information may be obtained. Alternate methods for obtaining information may include over time:

  • hard copy documents deposited in accordance with the Commonwealth Library Deposit and Free Issue Schemes
  • audiovisual documents provided to the National Film and Sound Archive; and
  •, which points to the Geoscience Australia website.

Geoscience Australia regards the Geoscience Australia website as its register of information subject to any interference outside Geoscience Australia's control. Geoscience Australia will use the IPS icon recommended by the Information Commissioner located on the homepage to notify members of the public of its IPS entry.

The website is constructed so that material likely to be of interest to the public or stakeholders appears on the website or is accessible through web based applications, tools or hypertext links. Where information should be available other than through the website, users will be advised how to access the information.

Geoscience Australia will publish material released under the FOI Act on the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (RET) disclosure log within the specified timeframes outlined within section 11C(6) the FOI Act. The Geoscience Australia disclosure log webpage contains a link to the RET disclosure log where the material is to be published.

Ensuring that information is discoverable, understandable, machine-readable, accessible and useable

The Geoscience Australia website has been developed to ensure content is available to the widest possible audience. Geoscience Australia acknowledges the diversity of communication methods, available technologies and ability of web-users in the community, including readers using assistive technology or accessibility features. The Agency has commenced a process to bring Geoscience Australia's public and internal web presence to WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard by 2014.

Geoscience Australia aims to make its website content as accessible as possible and follows the guidelines and standards of the W3C. Geoscience Australia uses cascading style sheets (CSS) to ensure a consistent 'look and feel'. Users of the latest browsers (such as Firefox, IE, Opera, Safari, etc) which comply with the W3C guidelines and standards will view content as it was designed. Older browsers (such as Netscape 4 or Internet Explorer 4) will not show the design as it was intended, however, all content will still be available.

For PDF files the Adobe website provides a service to convert PDF files to HTML via an online form. The Adobe website and the Trace Research Centre provide services to convert Acrobat PDF files to plain text or HTML via e-mail. Many PDFs used on have been tagged and most screen readers can access these files without requiring conversion. However if a user would like Geoscience Australia to send another format for any of its PDF files the user can request a copy by emailing client services.

Creative Commons licensing

Geoscience Australia notes that the Australian Government has adopted Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC-BY) as the default for the licensing of Crown copyright materials. Original materials on Geoscience Australia's website and most materials appearing on, or linked through, Geoscience Australia's website will be available for use on a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence unless otherwise specified. Exceptions might include documents appearing on, or linked through, the Geoscience Australia website where the copyright is owned or jointly owned by a non-Commonwealth entity. In all cases, the publication should contain a copyright notice identifying the copyright owner and the licence the material has been published under.

Access charges

Geoscience Australia does not propose charging access fees, other than those permitted under the FOI Act, for access to information included in its IPS entry. Should access charges be imposed, Geoscience Australia will conform to the Department of Finance and Deregulation's Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines 2005 when calculating any applicable charges.

For data and products, Geoscience Australia conforms to the Australian Government Policy on Spatial Data Access and Pricing.

6. Information required to be published under the IPS

In accordance with section 8(2) Geoscience Australia will publish on the website:

  • the Agency Plan (section 8(1))
  • who we are, including an updated organisational chart (section 8(2)(b))
  • what we do, including information on Geoscience Australia's functions, decision making powers, operational guidelines and other materials used within Geoscience Australia in making decisions or recommendations affecting members of the public (section 8(2)(c))
  • if applicable, details of statutory appointments of the agency; currently Geoscience Australia does not have any statutory appointments (section 8(2)(d))
  • Geoscience Australia's reports and responses to Parliament (section 8(2)(e) and (h))
  • Geoscience Australia's information (if any) routinely requested under the FOI Act and Geoscience Australia's disclosure log (sections 8(2)(g) and 11C)
  • arrangements whereby members of the public may comment on specific policy proposals (section 8(2)(f))
  • contact details for how documents of Geoscience Australia may be requested under the FOI Act (section 8(2)(i)); and
  • the agency's operational information (section 8(2)(j)).

7. Other Information to be published under the IPS

Geoscience Australia already publishes much of the optional information on the website. In accordance with section 8(4) Geoscience Australia will publish:

  • Geoscience Australia's Strategic Plan and priorities
  • information on Geoscience Australia's funding programs and how to access them, and any other key agency programs or initiatives, such as the National Flood Risk Information Portal (NFRIP)
  • information regarding programs, strategic alliances, corporate documentation, publications, registers and current issues and activities of operational units
  • the Geoscience Australia Service Charter which includes:
    • Our Vision - Our Mission
    • the Department and its clients and stakeholders
    • what you can expect from us
    • our service standards
    • how you can help us
    • how you can give us feedback
    • how a complaint will be handled
  • a list of Portfolio legislation and Portfolio Budget Statements
  • the Annual Procurement Plan and Annual Regulatory plan
  • accessibility standards for the Geoscience Australia website and how to utilise them
  • information about Geoscience Australia's facilities including the Library, sales centre, education centre, and our Energy Efficient Building
  • current employment opportunities, ministerial media releases and media archives
  • contact details for Geoscience Australia and Portfolio agency offices.

Geoscience Australia provides other kinds of online information services to the public including:

  • tsunami, earthquake and natural hazard warning
  • flood mapping and bushfire mapping applications
  • free data-downloads
  • a range of mapping applications and services
  • moon phases and sunrise/ sunset times
  • current and historical publications.

8. Geoscience Australia IPS Compliance Review

Geoscience Australia will review its IPS entry on an ongoing basis to ensure the information published remains accurate, up-to-date and complete. Geoscience Australia proposes to review this Agency Plan at least annually.

In conjunction with the Information Commissioner, Geoscience Australia will review the operation of the Scheme within Geoscience Australia at least every five years, as is required under Division 3 of the Act.

Geoscience Australia encourages members of the public to provide feedback on the operation of the IPS within Geoscience Australia as part of its IPS entry compliance review. Such feedback should be directed to: client services