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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1169 ..



Question No. 27

Public Service - Document Preparation and Production Procedures

MR STANHOPE - asked the Chief Minister upon notice on 23 June 1998: - In relation to agencies administered by the Chief Minister and those administered by other government Ministers -

1. Do you, or other government Ministers, adhere to standardised procedures which identify the various stages in the preparation and production of documents eg. are individual documents dated and are authors of reports identified.

2. Is there a standard governmental procedure that is followed, if so could you outline that procedure.

MS CARNELL - The answer to the Member's question is as follows:

1. There are a number of documents which prescribe standard public service practice in the preparation and production of documents. Different practices apply depending upon the nature of the document.

A range of informal working papers may also be produced in the development of a document or report. These early or working drafts of the document are not necessarily dated or authorised. These working papers are stored or destroyed in accordance with agency Records Management Plans and the Archives Act 1983 (Cth).

While a document is in preparation it is the intellectual property of the Territory not the individual action officer. It is standard practice for documents prepared for Ministers and senior Executives to include the name and contact telephone number of the action officer at the foot of the document or on an accompanying `clearance sheet'.

Once the document is dated and endorsed by the relevant Minister, the document can be said to reflect the Government policy or position on the matter.

If the document or report is published, the editorial standards in the ACT Government Publications Guidelines are applied.

There is of course a range of documents produced in the public service that are of an operational nature and do not deal with policy issues. Standard editorial guidelines on dating and identification of the action officers are also be applied to these documents.

2. There are a number of handbooks and procedure manuals that outline standard government procedure; these are used by public servants when preparing documents and reports. These include the Cabinet Handbook, the Legislation Handbook and the Participation in Parliamentary Inquiries Handbook, the Public Sector Management Standards and the Archives Act 1983 (Cth).

Each agency's Ministerial Services Unit also produces a Code of Practice, Ministerial Correspondence Handbook or guidelines for use in their agency. Individual agencies often accommodate the personal preferences of their Minister in these guidelines. The guidelines indicate the way in which a document should be dated and the relevant action officer identified. A number of agencies are also using or implementing electronic templates which will assist in standardising the format of documents.

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