Information Obligations of Public Service Employees


Who is this guideline for?

This guideline is intended to assist Public Service Employees, who are subject to the Public Service Act 2008 [1]  (primarily Queensland Government Departmental employees), to understand the information rules which apply to them.  However, many of the rules discussed in this guideline also apply to other Queensland public sector employees, including those working in local government, statutory authorities, government owned corporations and other public sector agencies.  

When we say you in this guideline we mean Public Service Employees.  If you are a Public Service Employee all the rules in this guideline apply to you.  

For those who are not Public Service Employees: look for the yellow background [2] .  These rules are not limited only to Public Service Employees and they may apply to you as well.

If the information is on a yellow background, it is generally applicable to people who work in a Queensland public sector agency.   

What is this guideline intended to achieve?

In addition to oversight, audit and review responsibilities the functions of the Office of the Information Commissioner ( OIC ) include giving information, assistance and training to agencies and the public on matters relevant to the Right to Information Act 2009  and the Information Privacy Act 2009 .  

In 2008 the Queensland Government committed to developing a whole of government framework that would set the long term goals and strategic agenda for government information policy.  The whole of government strategic information policy framework includes the following elements [3]  :

  • A move to a push model 
  • A clearly articulated governance framework; and
  • A comprehensive and integrated information policy.

One barrier for senior executives and public service employees in fostering a more open public sector culture is how they reconcile obligations under the RTI and IP Act with other information obligations. 

This guide is intended to assist you in developing an understanding of how those obligations interact, give you a strong foundation on which to build a better culture around information, and ensure that you:

  • understand the rules and laws which define your obligations towards government information
  • understand the broader ethical context in which you undertake your role, both as it relates to your agency and to government as a whole
  • can reconcile your obligations of proactive and maximum disclosure with other obligations that prevent or limit disclosure of information.

Customising the guideline

You are free to customise this guideline for your specific agency or need and you may reproduce any part of it for your use, for example in education materials or for training purposes, as long as you acknowledge the Office of the Information Commissioner as the original author.  

If you require a Microsoft Word version of the guideline please email the Office of the Information Commissioner at

Using this guideline

The entire guideline has been divided into sections for viewing online. It can be downloaded as a complete PDF from this page.  Individual sections are available to downloaded as a PDF from each section page.

[1] Queensland Government The Right to Information – A response to the review of Queensland’s Freedom of Information Act  , Queensland Government August 2008, page 4.  [up]
[2] Section 9 of the Public Service Act 2008 sets out that a person is a Public Service Employee if they are employed under that Act as a Public Service Officer, a general employee or a temporary employee.  Section 8 provides that a Public Service Officer is a chief executive, a senior executive or an officer of another type. [up]
[3] The PDF version of this guideline does not use the yellow background. The relevant sections instead are marked with an icon of the sun. [up]

Current as at: August 1, 2012