Sunshine Coast Regional Council Mayor Mark Jamieson and council CEO Emma Thomas, will play key roles in an upcoming review of council information processes.
Sunshine Coast Regional Council Mayor Mark Jamieson and council CEO Emma Thomas, will play key roles in an upcoming review of council information processes.

Confidential crackdown: Council to review info processes

Councillors are set to green light a review into the organisation's management of information, in a bid to better meet community expectations.

Sunshine Coast Council officers have recommended councillors approve the terms of reference for a review into classification and management of council information and authorise the CEO to kickstart an independent, external review.

The recommendations are set to be voted on at next week's first ordinary council meeting of 2021.

Agenda documents for the meeting showed officers had noted the current policy was outdated and "not necessarily reflective of contemporary information classification and management practices or community expectations".

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Last year's council election campaign was run on a platform of increased transparency by many candidates and several community organisations also pushed for greater openness and accountability from the organisation.

Council officers noted in their report there was a "wider community interest" in examining practices related to the classification, management and accessibility of information considered by the council.

The officers stated the examination would be undertaken with a view to "enhancing the availability of information to the general public and improving the understanding of the circumstances when information should be maintained on a confidential basis - and for how long this should be the case".

SunCentral CEO John Knaggs at the Maroochydore city centre for the announcement of the development agreement between Sunshine Coast Council and Walker Corporation. Council started up the SunCentral development company to deliver the Maroochydore CBD project.
SunCentral CEO John Knaggs at the Maroochydore city centre for the announcement of the development agreement between Sunshine Coast Council and Walker Corporation. Council started up the SunCentral development company to deliver the Maroochydore CBD project.

"This approach reflects the need to provide a more contemporary operating policy platform for

council information that effectively considers council's statutory and legal obligations along

with community expectations in relation to the accessibility of council information," the report stated.

Deputy Mayor Rick Baberowski had been a proponent of change ahead of the election last year, when he made public a push to livestream meetings and also review the process around confidential information and when it could be disclosed.

Council officers wrote that the review "must include engagement with the community at the initial phase of the review".

They said the report of the review had to be made publicly accessible and identify all people and organisations who contributed to it.

A steering committee to oversee the review was proposed to be made up of Mayor Mark Jamieson as chair, along with councillors Maria Suarez, David Law, the CEO or one of her nominees and three external representatives approved by the CEO after consultation with councillors.

Should the officer recommendations be approved next week, council CEO Emma Thomas would seek expressions of interest for the three independent roles on the steering committee.

A procurement process would also kick off to engage a "suitably credentialed party to undertake the proposed independent external review" the report said.

A report on the outcomes of the review would have to be provided to the council by the end of August.

The cost of commissioning an external consultant to carry out the review and provide a report to council was estimated to be about $60,000.



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