Information publication scheme agency plan

Introduction

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is an agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). The Information Publication Scheme (IPS) is established by Part II of the FOI Act. The IPS requires agencies to publish a broad range of information, including an agency plan in accordance with section 8(1) of the FOI Act.

The APVMA is the Australian Government statutory authority within the portfolio of the Minister for Agriculture. The APVMA is responsible for the assessment and registration of pesticides and veterinary medicines into the Australian marketplace, and for their regulation up to and including the point of retail sale. The APVMA’s role is to independently evaluate the safety and performance of pesticides and veterinary medicines intended for sale, ensuring that the health and safety of people, animals and crops, the environment and trade are protected. In addition to registering new agricultural and veterinary chemical products, the APVMA reviews products on the market to ensure they remain effective and safe to use.

The agency plan describes how the APVMA intends to administer and comply with the IPS in respect of its own information holdings, by addressing:

  • the administration of the APVMA’s IPS entry
  • information architecture
  • iformation required to be published
  • other information to be published (optional information)
  • IPS compliance review.

The APVMA recognises that public sector information is a national resource managed for public purposes. For that reason, the APVMA continues to build and foster a culture within the agency in which appropriate proactive disclosure of its information holdings is embraced.

Purpose

The purpose of this plan is to:

  • assist the APVMA in administering and updating its IPS entry
  • facilitate public consultation and comment about the APVMA’s IPS entry
  • set out what information the APVMA proposes to publish, including how and to whom the information will be published
  • how the APVMA will otherwise comply with the IPS requirements.

Objectives

The APVMA’s objectives are to set out the mechanisms and procedures to:

  • effectively and efficiently manage its IPS entry
  • proactively identify and publish the information that is required to be published (including this plan) under the IPS
  • proactively identify and a publish any other information to be published under the IPS
  • regularly review the information published under the IPS to ensure the APVMA’s IPS entry remains complete, accurate and up-to-date
  • endeavour to make the information published under the IPS is discoverable, searchable, understandable and reusable
  • ensure that the format of all online content conforms with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Version 2) WCAG 2.0
  • monitor and measure the success of the APVMA’s IPS entry by reference to community feedback and compliance review processes.

Administration of the APVMA’s IPS entry

The APVMA’s General Counsel (with assistance from the Legal team, the Public Affairs and Communications team and the Business Systems Manager) is responsible for leading and ensuring the APVMA’s compliance with the IPS. 

The APVMA has developed a register to assist it in assessing its information holdings.  Each program of the APVMA is responsible for identifying information holdings under their responsibility for publication to the APVMA IPS entry, and providing that information to the Public Affairs and Communications team.  The APVMA’s Business Systems Manager assists in the maintenance of quality controlled documents including work instructions and other operational information.

The Public Affairs and Communications team coordinates the recording of the documents for publication in the register, and the publication of the documents to the APVMA website. The Public Affairs and Communications team also continually monitors and procures up-to-date methods of presenting information to ensure it is discoverable and searchable, accessible and usable.

The APVMA program areas, the Legal team, the Business Systems Manager and the Public Affairs and Communications team work collaboratively to ensure that the APVMA maintains an accurate, informative and up to date suite of operational documents.

As part of managing the ongoing administration of the APVMA’s IPS entry, the Legal team will develop a guide to publishing information under the IPS for APVMA staff. 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 other information to be published as part of the APVMA’s IPS entry
  • describe the process for publishing information to the APVMA’s IPS entry, or otherwise making that information available to the public.

While the APVMA does not currently charge for copies of published documents, it encourages the community to access and print copies of documents published on the website.

Where the APVMA is requested to provide a printed copy of a voluminous document, a charge of 10 cents per page may be charged to cover partial costs of resources, as well as postage.  A further charge may be incurred for documents subject to subscription or copyright, and is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Documents that are impracticable to publish will be listed on the APVMA’s IPS entry along with details of how to request access to those documents. The APVMA may charge a person for accessing any IPS document that is impracticable to publish online, to reimburse specific reproduction costs, or other specific incidental costs incurred in giving that access.

Documents that are not available on the APVMA’s website or IPS entry may be requested under the FOI Act. The APVMA’s website sets out the process for making a request, and that enquiries relating to FOI should be made to the FOI team or by telephone.

Information architecture

The APVMA’s website, and in particular the FOI web page, is the main portal through which members of the public can access the information made available by the APVMA under the IPS. A link to the APVMA’s IPS entry and the Disclosure Log is available on the home page of the website, for ease and speed of navigation.

The public can also access certain documents in the APVMA’s possession in accordance with section 8W of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code, as scheduled to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994.

In accordance with guidance issued by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), the APVMA’s IPS entry is published under the following headings:

Required information

  • Information Publication Scheme Agency Plan (section 8(2)(a))
  • Who we are (sections 8(2)(b) and 8(2)(d))
  • What we do (sections 8(2)(c) and 8(2)(j))
  • Our reports and responses to Parliament (sections 8(2)(e) and 8(2)(h))
  • Consultation arrangements (section 8(2)(f))
  • Routinely requested information (section 8(2)(g))
  • Disclosure Log (section 11C)
  • Contact us (section 8(2)(i).

Other information

  • Our priorities (section 8(4))
  • Our finances (section 8(4))
  • Our lists (section 8(4))
  • Our submissions (section 8(4))
  • Our policies (section 8(4)).

To ensure the APVMA’s IPS entry and individual documents are easily discoverable, understandable and machine-readable, the APVMA:

  • has wherever possible, provided online content in a format that is discoverable and can be searched, copied and transformed
  • has provided a search function for its website
  • will provide an alert service to notify subscribers of new entries in the Disclosure Log
  • has proposed to develop an alert service to notify subscribers of new publications to the IPS entry
  • will establish a feedback mechanism on every content page of its website.

The APVMA will, so far as possible, make its IPS information holdings available for reuse on open licensing terms.

The APVMA Public Chemical Registration Information System enables members of the public to access information about product names, registering companies, active constituents and product categories.

The APVMA is also exploring ways to enhance its information management capabilities through electronic document and records management system (EDRMS).  It is anticipated that the introduction of an EDRMS, supported by records management protocols, will strengthen the APVMA’s IPS.

The APVMA does not routinely publish information to other sources or websites.

Required information

The APVMA publishes the following documents as required under section 8(2) of the FOI Act, to the IPS entry on the APVMA’s website.

The Information Publication Scheme Agency Plan

This section includes a link to this document.

Who we are

This section includes information about the APVMA and our structure, governance and statutory appointments.

What we do

This section includes information on the APVMA’s functions and decision making powers. The APVMA also publishes guidelines, policies, practices and precedents relating to these functions.

Our reports and responses to Parliament

This section includes the APVMA’s recent annual reports, and other information tabled in Parliament as appropriate.

Routinely requested information and the APVMA’s disclosure log

This section includes documents that the APVMA routinely gives access to, and information published under section 11C, in response to requests for access under the FOI Act. The APVMA launched its disclosure log in April 2011.

Consultation arrangements

This section includes information about how and to whom a comment may be submitted by members of the public, where the APVMA undertakes public consultation on a specific policy proposal.

Contact us

This section includes the contact details for the FOI team, who can be contacted about access to the APVMA’s information holdings or requests for documents under the FOI Act.

Other information

The APVMA currently publishes a vast range of information on its website (in addition to the information published under section 8(2)), taking into account the objects of the IPS and the FOI Act.

The APVMA continues to publish as much information as possible in the interests of full disclosure of the information that guides the APVMA’s functions and its decision making processes. The information that is routinely published to the APVMA website includes application summaries and the contents of the PUBCRIS.

In addition, the APVMA publishes the following documents under section 8(4) of the FOI Act, to the IPS entry on the APVMA’s website.

Our priorities

This section will include any corporate and strategic plans, assessments and reviews.

Our finances

This section will include any financial information on what we spend and how we spent it, including financial statements and information relating to pay and grading structures, procurements procedures, tendering and contracts.

Our lists

This section will include any APVMA contracts, grants and appointments information.

Our submissions

This section will include any submissions made by the APVMA to reviews, Parliamentary committees, and other agencies.

Our policies

This section will include relevant APVMA corporate policies.

IPS compliance review

The APVMA’s approach to a review of its holdings

The APVMA endeavours to maintain a robust IPS entry. The agency plan is a living document and will be reviewed annually to ensure it remains relevant and to incorporate feedback.

The APVMA will ensure that all information is accurate and up to date at the time of publication, and endeavours to review the accuracy of the register of information. All APVMA work instructions are drafted in accordance with an international standard, the ISO Standard AS/NZS9001:2008. Updated documents will be implemented and published once those documents meet that standard.

All program areas will audit the operational documentation under their responsibility on a biannual basis, or sooner in the event that documentation is revised or a report of inaccurate information is made.

The APVMA will periodically audit the quality and accuracy of its IPS entry to ensure that published information accurately reflects the internal process and that the quality of the process reflects current legislation and scientific advances. The APVMA will periodically (but at least every five years) review the operation of its IPS in accordance with the guidelines issued by the OAIC relating to IPS compliance review.

Feedback

The APVMA strives to ensure transparency and openness with the public in its decision making processes.The APVMA has ensured that comments made by the public, in relation to this agency plan have been taken into account.

The APVMA is committed to continuous improvement and will continue to welcome comments and suggestions in relation to this agency plan. Any comments and suggestions can be forwarded to:

FOI team
Legal team
APVMA
PO Box 6182
Kingston ACT 2604

Email: foi@apvma.gov.au

To protect your privacy, please do not include contact information in your feedback. If you would like a response, please contact us.