data.gov.au Functionality

browse organisations by structural relationship

Organisations sometimes change name: It would be nice if I could trace "previously known as" and "subsequently known as" relatiohsnips between organisations.

Taking this a step further, full Machinery of Government changes would also be good ("merged with", "split from" etc). The temporal scope of these MoG changes is also optentially interesting.

When the organisation-graph changes, who has reasponsability for the former-organisation's data? If we can track the MoG changes, we have enough information to start figuring that out.

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Idea#56

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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]

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Comments

  1. Comment
    Garry Brooke

    It is hard to track policy areas. There are some sources.

    Recent AAOs: http://www.dpmc.gov.au/parliamentary/docs/aao_20131212.pdf

    Orders on Comlaw: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Browse/ByDateOfMaking/AdministrativeArrangementsOrders/Historical/0/

    PM's press releases: e.g. http://www.pm.gov.au/media/2013-09-18/coalition-will-restore-strong-stable-and-accountable-government

    Old press releases: http://pmtranscripts.dpmc.gov.au

    Finance’s chart: http://www.finance.gov.au/financial-framework/fma-legislation/fma-agencies.html

    Finance’s list of government bodies: http://www.finance.gov.au/financial-framework/governance/list-of-australian-government-bodies.html

    The list is out of date. Finance should publish the list online with data fed from a database that can be more readily updated [I believe the current list is in MS Word].

    Government Online Directory (GOLD): http://www.directory.gov.au

    Old versions of many documents: https://archive.org

    Despite all the sources, it’s difficult to track moves of individual agencies/policy areas. Can guess PM&C and others prepare documents on changes in AAOs. Those documents would be authoritative. PM&C might release copies.

    Someone could aggregate and publish online.

  2. Comment
    usefuldesign.au

    I have a client with about 7000 contacts and many of them work in Victorian Govt departments. Every time a new government merges and divides departments, recent DSE became DEPI and ?DTPLI for example (DSE is always getting worked over by successive govts depending on how they want to politicise Environmental issues).

    That means up to 1000 of our contacts email addresses are subject to change but it is not a simple logical construct as to who goes there so can't just automate a simple GREP swap of domains. If there was a map of how mergers and division occurred and what boundaries existed/exist now that would be helpful. Govt should really be providing this, it would save their gatekeepers a bunch of time fielding enquiries from the public I think. A find your bureaucrat and where she went site if you like.

  3. Comment
    Garry Brooke

    Yes, the last full listing was produced by Finance in 2009 (http://www.finance.gov.au/financial-framework/governance/list-of-australian-government-bodies.html). Before Finance took on the task, the list was regularly prepared by one of the parliamentary committees. However, no-one has prepared a history showing how bodies have moved/changed over time.

  4. Comment
    Community Member

    Library catalogues are another source of information. Each time an agency splits/merges etc it is noted in the catalogue record for their publications. For example, the National Library Catalogue, browsing Authors:

    Australia. Department of Housing and Construction 138

    See also:

    Australia. Department of Transport and Construction

    Notes: Created in Nov. 1973 by the amalgamation of the Dept. of Works and the Dept. of Housing. In Dec. 1975 the Dept. of Housing and Construction split into the Dept. of Construction and the Dept. of Environment, Housing and Community Development. In Dec. 1978 the Dept. of Housing and Construction was reformed by the merger of the Dept. of Construction and some functions of the Dept. of Environment, Housing and Community Development. In May 1982, the Dept. of Transport and the Dept. of Housing and Construction were amalgamated to form the Dept. of Transport and Construction. In March 1983 the Dept. of Housing and Construction was reestablished. In July 1987 the Dept. of Housing and Construction was amalgamated with parts of the former Dept. of Local Government and Administrative Services to become the Dept. of Administrative Services. Works by these bodies are found under the name used at the time of publication

  5. Comment
    Garry Brooke

    The Australian Government Organisations Register will provide this functionality, over time. There is a "previous versions" facility but, is currently not accessible. That might be because there are no previous versions i.e. the current version might be the first.

    Send thanks to Finance people [[email protected]].

  6. Comment
    Community Member

    The Australian Government Organisations Register does not contain the requested information.

    The original post requests the following fields:

    1. "previously known as" ("subsequently known as")

    2. "merged with"

    3. "split from"

    An examples of this data is that the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations was split into the Department of Education and the Department of Employment.

    None of these are present in the AGOR. Nor does the continued availability of multiple versions of the AGOR provide this information.

    To illustrate the problem in simple terms: suppose you know that in 1850 there were James, Mick and Bernadette; in 1950 you know that there are James, Beth and Lucy -- who are whose descendants? Even if you had annual snapshots of everybody's names, you still wouldn't know!

    The government knows which agencies are the result of mergers and demergers. The government just doesn't publish the information. Days and weeks of planning goes into machinery of government changes. There are vast numbers of documents that record or refer to these facts. If you chatted with one of the thousands of involved or affected public servants, they could tell you which agencies were split or merged or had their name changed. But there's no consolidated list, and certainly nothing machine-readable.

    The best we can do with the information in the public domain is to manually pore over the media releases related to machinery of government changes, coupled with AGOR as a snapshot at various times listing the departments and agencies in existence, and try to guess which names look like they were split or merged from others, or which might be new agencies, etc. "Guess" is the most important word in that sentence. "Manually" is the second most important word.

    Therefore, for reasons of transparency, to help people keep track of contacts in government agencies, and to help people identify the right agency for an FOI request regarding historic information, the government should publish the information suggested by the original post above.

    I am not commenting on whether AGOR or anything else is "good" or "bad". I am just saying that AGOR does not provide the functionality requested in this idea.

    While I am writing, I should note that Wikipedia appears to have relevant data: see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Department_of_Employment,_Education_and_Training . They use "Preceding Department" and "Superseding agency" links in their data. There are no sources recorded for this information; presumably the editors have made guesses based on similar names or read through press releases.

  7. Comment
    Garry Brooke

    All very true. But, depending on how it's handled by Finance, it should be possible to compare successive versions of the Register and so, deduce the changes.

    Still, it would be better to at least have an antecedent field. I've sent them an e-mail suggesting that. It would be even better to have what you've suggested. Send them an e-mail direct to [email protected]

  8. Comment
    Chris Gough ( Idea Submitter )

    I suppose that during mergers, aquisitions and name changes of corporations, someone (ASIC? ATO?) is keeping track of the relationships between the entities from verious financial perspectives e.g. for payroll tax compliance. Maybe they are tracking government entities as part of that?

    MOGs should be evident in a mosaic of financial accounts. The ledger of the surviving department would contain a wholesale transfer of assets and liabilities from the donor department. The income/expense side of things would also have clues - e.g. following the portfolio budget disbursements. Would ANAO see all that?

    Have we ever accidentially lost a depertment behind the couch? Are we sure none of our smaller agencies are imposters, or fraudulently double-dipping from two jurisdictions? but seriously, it just seems incredible/dissapointing that this data would only exist in unstructured form.

  9. Comment
    Garry Brooke

    Amongst the best trackers of MOG and related changes are the Department of Finance. Their CBMS tracks finances for all agencies. They need good tracking so they can maintain their time series tables in the budget papers. They also track changes to programmes. I wish they could export a CSV of their structures for data.gov.au.

    Another non-financial source could be the National Archives. They have a dataset on data.gov.au - http://data.gov.au/dataset/commonwealth-agency-and-functions. However, I've not been able to figure a quick way to parse their structure. They also have a lot of entries which are not agencies.

  10. Comment
    Rosie Williams

    Being able to follow the merges, splits & abolition of agencies not to mention the name changes is very important to budget transparency. There were many changes with the last budget. Here is an example of how I've dealt with it http://infoaus.net/budget/estimated_v_actual.php?agency=housing&submit=Show

    I got the information from an article published by the SBS which listed the changes.

    It actually compares data published May 2013 with the data published May 2014 (rather than relying on the figures provided for the prior year in the May2014 budget- which could be different) something quite difficult to achieve. It could be out of date by now if there have been further changes since May last year.

  11. Comment
    Rosie Williams

    I should clarify that the info I got and am using from the SBS article is just the names of the agencies and whether they were split, merged, put up for sale etc. The financial data comes from Portfolio Budget Statements from 2013 and 2014.

  12. Comment
    Chris Gough ( Idea Submitter )

    There are 37K "provenance sucession" links in the National Archive commonwealth-agency-and-functions data set. I think that might be it (for the commonwealth jurisdiction). Worth a deeper look...

    Comments on this comment

  13. Comment
    Chris Gough ( Idea Submitter )

    Just discovered this "OPM Provenance Model" ontology: http://openprovenance.org/ The examples seem to focus on digital artifacts, but I don't see why it couldn't be applied to a web or organisation units (and their digital artifacts).

    If the NA commonwealth-agency-and-functions data were bound to the OPM ontology, along with equivalent data sets from alternate jurisdictions, then the aggregate could be reasoned-over (inference) with a logic program to produce the required data. At least that's how I think that stuff works, I'm not a semantic-web geek unfortunately.

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