Internet - IS26

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Purpose

This QGEA Information Standard outlines the minimum requirements for Queensland Government agencies in the creation, implementation, and management of agency internet sites for the delivery of information and services.

Policy

Agencies will use the internet for the proactive publication and use of government information and explore online options when assessing communication and service delivery strategies. Agencies must comply with the mandatory principles of this Information Standard.

Scope

This Information Standard relates to the information layer of the Queensland Government Enterprise Architecture (QGEA).

Applicability

This Information Standard applies to all public facing internet sites within the gov.au and edu.au domains established by Queensland Government agencies that are required to comply with the Queensland Government Corporate Identity Manual. This Information Standard does not apply to Queensland Government agency websites in the eq.edu.au domain. Websites within the eq.edu.au domain must conform to departmental policy.

An exemption granted by the Department of Premier and Cabinet from the Queensland Government Corporate Identity does not qualify as an exception from this Information Standard. Queensland Government agencies must follow the QGEA exception process to be granted an exception from this Information Standard.

While focused on public-facing internet service delivery, many of the principles in this standard are relevant to intranet and extranet sites.

Mandatory principles

Mandatory Principle 1: Online presence

Agency internet sites must provide for maximum accessibility and usability for all groups of the community and maintain a consistent and customer focused view of Queensland Government. At a minimum agencies must:

  • ensure the use of internet sites and electronic service delivery form part of strategic, tactical and operational planning processes

  • ensure the implementation of consistent and stable URLs

  • review their internet sites on a regular basis to ensure continued compliance with the mandatory principles of this Information Standard

  • comply with the Consistent User Experience (CUE) Standard

  • comply with the Queensland Government Corporate Identity, unless an exemption is granted by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet

  • recognise that customers may access online content using assistive technologies due to disability, impairment or preference by consideration of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (V2.0) and ensure the following conformance levels:

    • A Level conformance with Guideline 1.2

    • AA Level conformance with all other Guidelines.

  • ensure that content design balances the need for quality and minimal file download times with particular consideration for customers with lower bandwidth or poor telecommunications infrastructure

  • recognise the diversity of devices, configurations, and preferences of consumers of internet content (including a reasonable range of browsers, internet-enabled devices and assistive technologies such as screen-readers)

  • provide a website search capability as required by the CUE Standard

  • remain aware of compliance obligations, perform risk assessments and seek appropriate approvals before proceeding with the implementation of emerging technologies.

     

Mandatory Principle 2: Operational management

Agencies must ensure appropriate operational management, record-keeping, security and privacy processes are in place for the maintenance of internet sites. At a minimum agencies must:

  • ensure the currency, accuracy, suitability and quality of internet site information through the implementation of authorisation and monitoring processes (see also Principle 3: Content requirements)

  • ensure consistency with regulatory and legislative requirements including the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld), the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld), the Public Records Act 2002 (Qld), the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) and relevant QGEA Information Standards when managing web records

  • ensure processes are in place to continually improve internet sites through performance monitoring and management of customer feedback and information requests

  • assess their web security requirements and develop policies and controls to manage all aspects of online activities as required by QGEA Information Standard 18: Information Security

  • ensure site archival procedures for internet content meet the requirements of QGEA Information Standard 40: Recordkeeping (IS40)

  • notify the Online Services Unit (Smart Service Queensland) via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as well as any major stakeholders of referring sites when launching new or significantly redeveloped internet sites

  • ensure external vendors are aware of their obligations by including references to this standard in tender specifications, service level agreements or contracts where management of websites is outsourced

  • have appropriate website management procedures in place to maintain current, accurate and high-quality online information and services including:

    • authorisation and approval processes for the creation and publishing of information and its terms of use (refer to Licensing of government information published on agency websites below)

    • processes to ensure the ongoing currency and accuracy of all online information including email addresses and telephone numbers

    • processes to routinely check and manage links across the website

    • processes to check that the site continues to meet accessibility and usability requirements.

Mandatory Principle 3: Content requirements

Agency internet sites must facilitate the routine disclosure and active dissemination of information and provide a current view of Queensland Government. At a minimum, agency internet site content must:

  • recognise the literacy and language needs of customers

  • include information that falls within the classes of information identified within the agency’s publication scheme

  • include a disclosure log

  • include current contact information

  • include privacy and security statements that are consistent with the Information Privacy Act 2009 throughout websites and web applications

  • present copyright notices in a manner and location that provides customers with reasonable notice of the claim of copyright ownership

  • include disclaimer notices that are a part of the website content and not simply link to, and use another agency’s disclaimer notice

  • when linking to non-Queensland Government information, ensure that:

    • notices are provided to clearly separate non-Queensland Government information resources from government publishing activity

    • links to commercial sites do not provide any implicit endorsement or commercial advantage and do not exhibit any ethical or political bias

    • risk assessments are conducted when linking to non-Queensland Government content

  • comply with the AusGOAL requirements for the placement of licence markings.

Implementation advice

Mandatory Principle 1: Online presence – implementation advice

Website planning

Areas to consider when planning include:

  • identification and review of customers' online needs

  • consideration of electronic service delivery applications that can better meet customer needs alignment with agency charters

  • consideration of technologies that can support the routine disclosure and active dissemination of information

  • recognition of whole-of-Government policies and objectives, including this Information Standard

  • objective setting and performance measurement

  • assessment of costs and benefits.

Further information on planning can be obtained from the ICT Resources Planning - Restricted Toolbox (Queensland Government employees only).

Domain names and URLs

Domain names serve as a major component of an internet site’s communication strategy. Research has shown that .gov domain names engender greater trust and credibility than other domain names such as .com, .org, etc.

Refer to the QGEA Information Standard 39: Domain names (IS39) and the Registration of a domain name (Queensland Government employees only) instructions for further information about the procedures and requirements for selecting and requesting a qld.gov.au or qld.edu.au domain name.

The implementation of consistent and stable URLs across Queensland Government provides benefits such as increased customer trust via quality user experiences and improved marketability.

Information on implementing consistent and stable URLs is available on the Queensland Government Web Centre: (Queensland Government employees only)

Consistent User Experience (CUE) standard

The Consistent User Experience (CUE) Standard ensures that publicly visible agency web content provides a consistent and customer-focused view of Queensland Government.

Research has shown that maintaining a consistent layout between sites removes the need for users to re-learn how to navigate each site and orient themselves within each page. This enables users to more easily locate the information and services they need.

To facilitate this, the Queensland Government has adopted a CUE Standard for the online environment.

The CUE Standard will continue to mature under the guidance of the Online Advisory Group.

Enquiries relating to the CUE Standard should be directed to the Online Services Unit (Smart Service Queensland) via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Queensland Government Corporate Identity

The Queensland Government Corporate Identity (Queensland Government employees only) provides a single brand for State Government activities.

The Department of the Premier and Cabinet (Queensland Government employees only) provide further information, policies, guidelines and templates that agencies should be aware of when developing internet websites.

Accessibility

Utilising the W3C's validation tools, technical information and checklists will assist agencies in implementing this principle. Agencies should also consider testing the accessibility of sites routinely and before major releases.

Refer to the Queensland Government Web Centre (Queensland Government employees only) for recommendations on which browsers should be supported.

Search and metadata

Using a search engine has been shown to be one of the most common methods of locating information and services. Providing users with fast access to relevant search results supports a customer-focused online service delivery environment.

A whole-of-Government search service is available for agencies to implement and use on their internet sites. Further information on this application, including search implementation instructions can be found on the Queensland Government Web Centre. Enquiries relating to the whole-of-Government search application should be directed to the Online Services Unit (Smart Service Queensland) via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The use of metadata on agency’s information assets improves the management, visibility, accessibility and interoperability of its information and services. The QGEA Information Standard 34 – Metadata (IS34) provides detailed information for agencies regarding the use of metadata.

When publishing licensed materials as a web page or on a website, agencies should make it easier for customers to find the licensed material by either completing metadata fields in web content management systems or coding licence and product information into the web page content. Refer to the AusGOAL website for further guidance.

Emerging technologies

Agencies are encouraged to investigate and trial new and emerging technologies that offer gains in efficiency or effectiveness in service delivery.

Mandatory Principle 2: Operational management - implementation advice

Records management and archiving

In accordance with the Public Records Act 2002 (Qld), agencies are required to ‘make and keep full and accurate records of its activities’. To assist agencies with their recordkeeping obligations, the following are available:

IS40

Queensland State Archives’ Managing records of online resources and services policy (PDF, 192 kB) and guideline (PDF, 763 kB).

Agencies should consider notifying the State Library of Queensland for submission of qld.gov.au websites to the Pandora (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia) project. Further details can be sourced through the State Library.

Security

Internet security is a critical ongoing issue for agencies. Some of the areas to consider when minimising risk in the online environment include:

ongoing review of technical and virus security measures

ongoing review of the confidentiality and privacy of all internet related information

the use of the internet for inappropriate purposes (by either members of the public or government employees, for example unauthorised access, transmission or storage of material)

any conflict with other government policies, for example anti-discrimination or privacy.

Hosting and support

Queensland Government internet sites may be internally or externally hosted and supported. When engaging external service providers, agencies should refer to Information Standard 13 - Procurement and disposal of ICT products and services (IS13) and the Policy. It is strongly recommended that publishing procedures are included as part of service level agreements or contracts.

Continual improvement

Ongoing maintenance is critical to the successful operation of internet sites. This includes providing a mechanism for customers to provide feedback and seek information from each agency.

Methods that can be used to ensure changing user requirements are being responded to and that user needs are continually met include:

regular monitoring and analysis of website usage trends and search engine queries

monitoring and responding to customer feedback and information requests.

It is recommended that agencies provide mechanisms, for example email, for receiving and responding effectively to customer comments regarding website content or information.

Monitoring and analysing feedback, requests and comments may assist agencies with planning internet initiatives or website redevelopments. This feedback can be used to determine if, and when, new or updated information should be added to the site, or if the site structure could be improved to enable users to locate information or services more easily.

Content management

Refer to IS13 prior to procuring technologies to support content management, and consult with the Queensland Government Procurement Office for opportunities to take advantage of any existing supplier arrangements.

Refer to Principle 3: Content requirements for the obligations of providing information through an internet site.

Licensing of government information published on agency websites

To promote reuse, agencies should implement processes that ensure that all government information published on websites is individually licensed. Refer to the AusGOAL website for guidance.

Mandatory Principle 3: Content requirements - implementation advice

Web writing guide

Special language or literacy needs are best met by writing in plain English and providing information about interpreter and translator services through links to the Queensland Government’s Other Languages site. The Queensland Government Web writing guide (Queensland Government employees only) provides advice on developing clear, easy-to-read, credible content and suggests considerations to be made when developing content in other languages.

In addition to standard web pages, it is appropriate for some content to be published in other file formats. Formats that reduce the reliance on proprietary software are preferred (such as PDF and RTF). When PDF format is used refer to the PDF publishing principles and related implementation resources (Queensland Government employees only) for advice on repurposing print documents for the web and increasing the usability and accessibility of these documents types.

Publication schemes

The Right to Information Act 2009 requires agencies to publish a scheme (a Publication scheme) setting out the:

Publication schemes support the proactive and maximum disclosure of all non-personal government information, unless contrary to the public interest. Information that falls within the Publication scheme should, where possible, be available on the agency’s website.

The Office of the Information Commissioner guideline, Proactive Disclosure and Publication schemes, provides further guidance on the implementation of Publication schemes.

Disclosure log

Like the Publication schemes, Disclosure logs support the proactive and maximum disclosure of all non-personal government information, unless contrary to the public interest. Agencies are required to implement a disclosure log on agency websites in accordance with the Right to Information Act 2009 and Ministerial Guidelines: Operation of Publication schemes and Disclosure logs (Word, 53 kB). The Office of the Information Commissioner guideline, Disclosure logs, provides further guidance on the implementation of Disclosure logs.

Current contact information

Agencies must ensure that contact information published on websites is current to allow customers to telephone, fax or email requests for information and access services. The CUE standard sets out minimum requirements for ‘Contact us’ pages.

Privacy and security statements

Refer to the CUE standard specifications on the placement of privacy and security statements.

The Office of the Information Commissioner’s Privacy Guideline provides further guidance on website privacy and security considerations.

Copyright notices and statements

All copies of a work published with the authority of the State Government are required to include the symbol © accompanied by the name of the copyright owner and year of publication. For example - © State of Queensland (Agency Name) 2009.

In addition to a copyright notice, agencies should consider utilising a copyright statement. An explanation of the legislation and international treaties which imbed this requirement are available from the Queensland Public Sector intellectual property principles factsheet. To promote re-use of content published on websites, the QGEA Policy: Information access and use (requirement 4) requires agencies to licence information consistently as per AusGOAL.

The CUE standard provides requirements as to the location of copyright notices and statements on Queensland Government websites.

Disclaimer notices

Disclaimer notices on agency websites should be based on individual agency requirements, and should be relevant to the website's content and purpose. Agencies should seek advice from their departmental legal section to ensure that website disclaimer notices are adequate.

The CUE standard provides requirements as to the location of disclaimer notices on Queensland Government websites.

For advice on email disclaimer notices, see the QGEA email disclaimer guideline.

External links

Agencies are encouraged to provide links to further authoritative information and useful services relevant to a customer’s needs.

While no simple answer or prescriptive checklist exists, assessing risks when linking to external sites may generally relate to:

the type of website being linked to, for example whether website users are required to agree to any terms or conditions of use as part of their access to the site, but linking to pages within the site which avoids users being taken through these conditions

the risk of any possible commercial loss occurring through the act of linking

whether linking to a site could be regarded as being responsible for contributing to further distribution of illegal material or may exhibit ethical or political bias

whether providing a link to material which is found to infringe copyright could expose an agency to liability for authorising copyright infringement.

When making decisions about what constitutes implicit endorsement and commercial advantage in terms of website content and linking to commercial websites, agencies should be guided by the principles provided in:

Where appropriate, permission is obtained in writing from the owners of the external content being linked to.

Refer to Queensland Government Web Centre (Queensland Government employees only) for further information on the implementation of external links.

Placement of licence markings

Refer to the AusGOAL website for guidance on the placement of license markings on web pages.

Caretaker convention

During election periods, agencies need to observe Caretaker conventions with regard to internet sites. These requirements are outlined in the Caretaker conventions on marketing/communication during election periods (Queensland Government employees only) located on the Department of the Premier and Cabinet website.

Complaints Management Systems

The Public Service Commissioner's Directive 13/06 'Complaints Management Systems' requires departments and other public service agencies to implement and maintain system/s for complaints management. Each agency's Complaints Management System must be supported by written policies and procedures and incorporate 5 minimum elements of the Directive including visibility and access.

Agency websites are an important mechanism/channel for making the complaints process visible and accessible to the community and staff. Directive 13/06 specifies that an effective Complaints Management Systems should have mechanisms and strategies in place to provide:

  • readily available information about where to lodge a complaint and how to make a complaint
  • a simple, online mechanism such as a form for customers wishing to make a complaint
  • readily available information on how the department will manage a complaint (timeframes, how the complainant will be informed of progress, if relevant, and the result)
  • reasonable assistance to people who wish to make a complaints.

The Queensland Ombudsman office's Effective Complaints Management Fact Sheet Series (refer to No 5. Visibility and Access) provides further guidance on content requirements and other features for website visibility and accessibility of agency Complaints Management Systems

Glossary

For the purpose of this Standard, the following definitions apply.

Term

Meaning

Customer

End user and primary focus of a website. Can include the general public, community groups or business.

CUE standard

Consistent User Experience Standard. Template and guidance material covering the presentation, management and accessibility of Queensland Government websites.

QGEA

The Queensland Government Enterprise Architecture (QGEA) provides the framework to support the development of better services for Queenslanders through effective use of ICT in government.

OAG

Online Advisory Group. Working group of Queensland Government Web Managers providing advice on the management and direction of the Online Channel. Smart Service Queensland is the Secretariat of the OAG.

OSU

Online Services Unit, Smart Service Queensland. Custodians of the CUE Standard and Secretariat of the OAG.

CIO Leadership Team

Peak governance body of the Queensland Government Information and Communication Technology Sector chaired by the Associate Director-General of the Department of Public Works.

WCAG

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. International, industry standard adopted by Queensland Government.

Issue and review

2012 v6.0.2.

This QGEA Information Standard is published within the QGEA and is administered by the Queensland Government Cheif Information Office (QGCIO). It was developed by the QGCIO, Online Advisory Group, Smart Service Queensland and Department of the Premier and Cabinet; and approved by the Queensland Government Chief Information Officer on 8 December 2009.

This QGEA Information Standard will be reviewed on a biannual basis. The next review date is December 2011.

Implementation

Implementation of all Mandatory Principles must be completed by December 2010.