National Skills Commissioner Information Publication Scheme Agency Plan

Introduction

The National Skills Commissioner (the Commissioner) 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 Information Publication Scheme Agency Plan (Agency Plan) describes how the National Skills Commission (the Commission) proposes to do this, as required by subsection 8(1) of the FOI Act.

The Commissioner is appointed under the National Skills Commissioner Act 2020 (Cth) (Skills Commissioner Act) to help strengthen Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector and prepare Australians for the workforce opportunities of today and the future.

The Commissioner and Commission staff work with policy makers, influencers, educators and students in the VET sector to provide clear advice to government on pricing and emerging skills needs.

The Commission’s agency plan describes how the Commission administers the IPS in respect of its information holdings as follows:

  • establishing and administering the Commission’s IPS entry
  • IPS information architecture;
  • information required to be published under the IPS;
  • other information to be published; and
  • IPS compliance review.

Purpose

The purpose of the Agency Plan is to:

  • assist the Commission in planning and administering its IPS entry;
  • facilitate public consultation about that contribution;
  • to comply with s 8(1) of the FOI Act by listing what information the Commission proposes to publish, how and to whom the information will be published.

Objectives

The objective of this Agency Plan is to outline the mechanisms and procedures the Commission has in place to:

  • manage the Commission’s IPS information holdings;
  • proactively identify and publish information required to be published (s 8(2) of the FOI Act);
  • proactively identify and publish any other information to be published (s 8(4) of the FOI Act)
  • regularly review information published under the IPS to ensure it is accurate, up to date and complete (s 8B);
  • ensure that information published under the IPS is easily discoverable;
  • ensure satisfactory compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Version  2) (WCAG 2.0);
  • measure the success of the Commission’s IPS; and
  • promote greater understanding of the objects of the FOI Act and encourage the pro-disclosure culture in accordance with Government policy.

Establishing and administering the IPS

The Privacy Champion, is the senior officer responsible for implementing and leading the Commission’s compliance with the IPS. All SES officers assisting the Commission are responsible for ensuring that the operational information relevant to their work is published on the IPS and kept accurate and up to date.

The IPS Coordinator is responsible for overall maintenance of the IPS. The IPS Coordinator will develop a guide to publishing information under the IPS for staff assisting the Commission. The guide will:

  • describe processes to be followed internally to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of published information;
  • help staff to identify on an ongoing basis any required or optional information to be published under the IPS; and
  • describe the process for publishing information.

The Commission provides training material to ensure awareness of agency staff about FOI, which includes a section on the IPS.

The IPS Coordinator will coordinate staff to review and update their material on the IPS annually.

Publication of material will be administered by the Communications team, who will provide website publication services for upload and maintenance of documents on the IPS, including this Plan.

The IPS Coordinator will respond to requests for access to documents listed on the IPS that are not available for download.

The Commission will update the IPS page of the website intermittently as further information that is required and permitted to be published under subsections 8(2), 8(4) and 8A(2) of the FOI Act is identified.

Information architecture

The Commission has developed a document library using a website which is WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant.

In compliance with section 8 of the Privacy Act, the IPS entry is published on the Commission’s website under the following headings

  • the Commission’s Agency Plan;
  • who we are and details of the Commission’s organisational structure;
  • the Commission's annual reports;
  • our priorities;
  • our finances;
  • details of current consultations being run by the Commission including terms and conditions;
  • information the Commission routinely provides to Parliament;
  • the Commission’s Disclosure Log;
  • the Commission’s operational information; and
  • how you can contact us.

Visitors to the website can either browse or search the information in the publications library. An advanced search facility using filters, metadata and keywords enables visitors to search for documents. All information uploaded to the website has a dynamically generated ‘library card’ containing metadata and an abstract. Links to documents available for download are published on the library card. In certain circumstances it may be impractical to publish an existing document. In those circumstances the Commission will provide information about the document and instructions on how to request access to the document. The Commission may charge a small fee for accessing such documents, but this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. These charges will be consistent with charges in the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982 (which generally apply to access requests under Part III of the FOI Act).

The website also has an online feedback form to encourage public comment on any aspect of the website or the information published on it. To ensure that the Commission’s IPS entry (and individual IPS documents) are easily discoverable, the Commission has published a link to the IPS on the Commission’s homepage, which links directly to the IPS section of the website.

The copyright for all information on the website is under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia, unless otherwise specified.

Information required to be published

In accordance with subsection 8(2) of the FOI Act, the Commission publishes the following information:

  • the Commission’s Agency Plan (this document) as required under paragraph 8(2)(a) of the FOI Act;
  • details of the Commission's organisational structure and its functions and powers, including its decision making powers and other powers affecting members of the public;
  • details of the appointment of the Commissioner and acting Commissioner under the Skills Commissioner Act;
  • information in documents to which the Commission routinely gives access in response to FOI requests (FOI Disclosure Log) under Part III of the FOI Act except:
    • personal information about any individual the publishing of which would be unreasonable
    • information about the business, commercial, financial or professional affairs of any person the publishing of which would be unreasonable
    • other information of a kind determined by the Information Commissioner the publishing of which would be unreasonable;
  • the Commission's annual reports;
  • details of current consultations being run by the Commission for members of the public to comment, including how, and to whom those comments may be made;
  • the Commission’s operational information – that is, information held by the Commission for the purpose of performing or exercising the Commissioner’s functions or powers in making decisions or recommendations affecting members of the public or a particular person or entity, or classes of persons or entities (for example,  rules, guidelines, practices and precedents relating to those decisions and recommendations); and
  • the contact details of an officer who can be contacted about access to information and documents held by the Commission. The Commission’s website provides information about how to contact the Commission by telephone and by email.

How and to whom the information will be published

How

The above information will be published on the Commission’s website. In accordance with the requirements of subsection 8D(3) of the FOI Act, the information will be published by:

  • making it available for downloading from the website (where practicable to do so); or
  • publishing on the website a link to another website from which the information can be downloaded; or
  • publishing on the website other details of how the information may be obtained.

Wherever possible, the Commission will provide online content in a format that can be searched, copied and transformed.

To whom

The above information will be published to members of the public generally and, where the Commission considers it appropriate to do so, to particular classes of persons or entities.

Other information to be published under the IPS

Where appropriate the Commission will also publish other information that it holds (in addition to the information published under subsection 8(2)), taking into account the objects of the FOI Act.  Other information could include subject specific reports, data, policy documents and factsheets.

Individual policy areas will identify what other information is to be published under the IPS. 

A register of other documents published by the Commission (the Document Library) is available on the Commission’s website.

IPS compliance review

The Commission will review and revise this agency plan annually.

The Commission will also conduct a review in conjunction with the OAIC at least every five years, in accordance with Part 13 of the guidelines issued by the Information Commissioner.

The Commission will adopt the following criteria for measuring its performance:

  • Agency plan: has the Commission published a comprehensive plan for its IPS compliance?
  • Governance and administration: does the Commission have appropriate mechanisms in place to meet its IPS obligations, including a sound information management framework?
  • IPS document holdings: has the Commission reviewed its document holdings to decide what information must be published under s 8(2) of the FOI Act, and information that can be published under s 8(4) of the FOI Act?  Is the Commission’s IPS entry accurate, up-to-date and complete?
  • IPS information architecture: does the Commission have a publication framework in place and has it taken the necessary steps to ensure that information in its IPS entry is easily discoverable and accessible?
  • Agency compliance review: does the Commission have appropriate processes, systems and resources in place to monitor and review its IPS compliance and make necessary improvements to its IPS implementation?

How the Commission proposes to otherwise comply with the requirements of Part II of the FOI Act

The Commission intends to comply with the other requirements of Part II of the FOI Act as follows:

  • the Commission will ensure it has regard to all relevant guidelines issued by the Information Commissioner under section 93A of the FOI Act;
  • the Commission will cooperate with the regular reviews of the Commission’s handling of the IPS which will be carried out by the Information Commissioner; and in performing a function or exercising a power under Part II of the FOI Act, the Commission will also have regard to the objects of the FOI Act as set out in sections 3 and 3A.