Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 May 2015) . . Page.. 1276 ..
The Committee recommends that the annual reports of ACT Government directorates and agencies continue to include detail on relevant government contract expenditure for the reporting period under review.
The Chief Minister came back and said—and I quote from paragraph 4.39:
The Annual Reports will contain the print out from the Contracts Register on an annual year basis. The information won’t be reformatted and will have the relevant financial year included.
That is fantastic, and the committee thanks the Chief Minister for addressing its concern in that regard. So there is the report, Madam Speaker, as requested by the Assembly. It makes some reasonable recommendations. Much of it is in favour of the status quo, with a few tweaks. With that, I refer the report to the Assembly.
MS FITZHARRIS (Molonglo) (10.14): As a member of the public accounts committee, I would like to place on the record that while I agreed substantially with the report as presented by my colleague and chair of the committee, Mr Smyth, I did have some difficulty throughout deliberations going to the question of red tape reduction and efficiency in government processes, which gave me pause to think about the efficiency of committee processes. Indeed, paragraph 4.38 of the report reflects the discussion that the committee had. It reads:
The Committee discussed that reporting across multiple platforms could create unnecessary duplication. The Committee notes the need to balance transparency with the efficient operation of the ACT Government and its directorates to be responsive to: (a) the community by providing information in real time through the searchable online contracts database; and (b) the Legislative Assembly and its committees for the purposes of appropriate scrutiny. The Committee discussed the need to continue to think carefully about the appropriate balance between the increasing real time availability of government information online, the scrutiny processes of the Assembly, and the desire to reduce duplication and red tape across government activity.
Really, what this discussion was about, in my view, was, as Mr Smyth also just noted, the timeliness of committee reports. It is not just a matter for annual reporting processes; it does in fact go to the question of the efficiency of how committees operate and perhaps what the community expects of the Assembly. The community now have access to real-time information at their fingertips—for example, through the searchable online contracts database which was discussed at length by the committee and is reflected in the annual report bill.
The fact that the community can have real-time information available to them anywhere, at any time of the day, to search online government information, the fact that there is a significant amount of government information available, particularly through the open government initiative of this government, really calls into question whether the processes of the committees are keeping up with the processes of the wider community and what the community expects. We flagged in the committee and discussed the need, in my view, to take fairly close account of this, as that information