Submissions on the Open Government Partnership
National Action Plan 2016-18

On 1 August TINZ submitted feedback on the draft Open Government Partnership National Action Plan mid-term self-assessment.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an international agreement by governments committed to creating greater transparency, increasing civic participation and using new technologies to make government more open, effective, and accountable, refer to http://www.ogp.org.nz/what-is-the-ogp .

The OGP calls for scheduled self-assessment progress reports on each member's implementation of its National Action Plan (NAP).  The current New Zealand NAP covers 2016-18, refer http://ogp.org.nz/national-action-plan-2016-18/ .

The latest of these, dated May 2017, refer http://www.ogp.org.nz/our-progress, outlines progress under the seven discrete ‘commitments’ contained within the NAP. This information is derived from each lead ministry or department by the OGP administrator, State Services Commission (SSC). Convenient two-stage drill-down is provided for brief self-assessment detail against each commitment.

Public feedback was invited on this progress report during July. On 1 August TINZ submitted feedback with a mix of positive comment plus recommendations and suggestions for further improvements. We also took the opportunity to reiterate relevant unaddressed recommendations from the TINZ Integrity Plus 2013 National Integrity Systems Assessment. Our recommendations included:

  • BUDGET: Mandate a separate independent agency for publication of financial information reformatted to provide greater relevance to the public  
  • OFFICIAL INFORMATION REQUESTS: Place strong statistical emphasis on non-timely responses, and cumulative scoring for each entity. Review the adequacy of Ombudsman funding.
  • OPEN DATA ACCESS: Provide easier access to greater breadth of data.
  • OPEN GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP: Give priority to increasing youth and community engagements in civics, and better engagement of communities in ‘sub-national’ projects.
  • ACCESS TO LEGISLATION: Improve public participation in development of legislation and access to Cabinet papers.
  • POLICY PRACTICES: Improve the advertising for public consultation opportunities and lengthen consultation windows.
  • POST-ELECTION GOVERNMENT: Engage early with the new government to promote open government and identify its views.   

The public feedback process for this important initiative has been disappointing. It lacked good advance publicity, provided a very narrow (2-week) period for acceptance of submissions, and required submission delivery via email or a primitive web form. (SSC personnel provided excellent communication to overcome the latter difficulty.)

It is understood that only four submissions were made - including TINZ's submission. As of this newsletter going to print, these have not yet been made public as intended pending the Minister’s approval for public release.

As also reported in Transparency Times July issue, the OGP ‘Independent Reporter’ for New Zealand, Keitha Booth, separately sought direct verbal opinion from TINZ as she prepares her own report destined for OGP headquarters in Washington in September.

There is still much that needs done by the Government and Civil Society to achieve much broader participation in this initiative.

Actions

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