A response from the DPS

After our recent post we finally received a response from the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS):

from: Web, Manager (DPS) <WebManager@aph.gov.au>
to: Matthew Landauer
date: Fri, May 1, 2009 at 5:46 PM
subject: RE: Hansard 23 September 2008 probably error in division

Dear Matthew

Thank you for your email to the APH web manager identifying a possible error in a division in Hansard for 23 September 2008.

Thank you for your patience while we investigated the error identified. Changes to Hansard, once they are past the ‘proof’ stage and are regarded as ‘official’, take some time to investigate and obtain approval to change.

For the future if you, or someone else from Open Australia, send us a correction, the Hansard area or web manager will undertake to respond within a fortnight, regardless of the outcome.

Hansard have investigated the matter you raised. The code for Mark Vaile was used in error, rather than that of Dana Vale (who was missing from the division). We’ve corrected and reloaded the Hansard to the web (both in ParlInfo Search and the daily PDFs on the APH website) to reflect this.

In your email you also mention that you identify spelling mistakes, formatting errors and logical inconsistencies in Hansard from time to time. We would appreciate it if you would continue to send these to the APH web manager email address. The web manager will then forward it to the relevant area. We will investigate, including retrieving and listening to the audio, if necessary, to check what the original speaker actually said. Where the error is within the Hansard (as in this case) we will fix it, though we may need to assess other changes against editorial guidelines. Where we are not able to access the audio to check, the normal procedure is to not change the Hansard, unless the error is clearly in the transcription. We do not have access to all previous audio, though we maintain it longer for chambers (years) than committees (months).

Thanks again for your help.

Kind regards,

Parliamentary Web Manager
Department of Parliamentary Services
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

This is how I responded:

from: Matthew Landauer
to: Web, Manager (DPS) <WebManager@aph.gov.au>
date: Mon, May 11, 2009 at 6:21 PM
subject: RE: Hansard 23 September 2008 probably error in division

Dear anonymous web person / web manager,

Thanks for your email and the effort you put into checking and
correcting the error with Mark Vaile’s code.

We also appreciate your assurance that someone will respond to any
future Hansard correction within two weeks. However, we are not a
watchdog. It is not our aim to count errors. Rather we need your site
to work and the data to be accurate and we need to be able to
communicate effectively with you.

We specifically asked for a technical contact at the department which
you have so far not provided nor even acknowledged. We’re waiting for
you to respond to that request.

Whether or not you are able to provide details of a technical contact,
we would still like a response from you. If you are not able to
provide that access to a technical contact, we’ll need information
from you on why it isn’t possible. This should include the name and
contact details of the person who is responsible for this particular

Another anonymous email will just not do for this purpose.

We look forward to your response.

All the best,

Matthew Landauer
Founder OpenAustralia

P.S. All correspondence will be forwarded to our blog.

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One Comment

  1. George
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Too many years with a different regime fosters this type of behavior. Sen. Faulkner would be interested to have both copies of this exchange methinks. At least if what he was flagging in his speech at the opening of the Citizens Parliament is to be believed.

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