Yesterday the Prime Minister, Mr. Kevin Rudd, announced that the Australian national university would establish an Australian National Institute for Public Policy, a H. C. Coombs Policy Forum and scholarships for public servants to study at ANU. These will complement the already announced Australian National Security College and Australian Centre on China in the World. The $112M funding includes a relatively modest $0.5m to scope accommodation needed for the extra staff and students the institute will attract to Canberra.
I suggest that an additional $1M should be spent on equipping the institute with top quality online learning facilities. The centre could be equipped with an incident centre allowing public servants to learn how to make public policy in real time during a crisis. This could also be sued during a real crisis by the government as an additional resource.
It is likely that at most only one quarter of the activity will take place on campus, with most staff and students conducting their research and education remotely online. As a result what will be needed are high quality facilities in the new buildings, to allow the staff based there to link up to experts and students around the world. This may include the requirement for secure facilities so that sensitive matters can be discussed by public servants and authorised university staff. With my colleagues in the School of Computer Science, I have been investigating how to provide such facilities for teaching green ICT policy to public servants and senior industry people. This work could be expanded to encompass the needs of the new Institute.