New Zealand Joining the Open Government Partnership

Declares Commitment to Universal Human Rights, the UN Convention Against Corruption, and Effective Governance

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative in which governments and civil societies can cooperatively create and implement transparent government reforms. Established in 2011 with eight initial member nations, the OGP now has 63 participating countries.

To join the OGP, each country must develop an OGP action plan that proposes how the country will achieve the OGP’s grand challenges, which are to improve public services and public integrity, more effectively manage public resources, create safer communities, and increase corporate accountability. Besides committing to and implementing these challenges, joining the OGP also offers its members a powerful peer network in which participating countries can share best practices, technical assistance, and other resources.

New Zealand and the OGP

In mid-2013, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission recommended that the country join the OGP in its submission to the Universal Periodic Review of New Zealand’s human rights record. The commission supported New Zealand’s participation because the country has been a global leader in transparent and accountable government.

State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman confirmed at the London OGP Summit in November 2013 that New Zealand would join the OGP. At the time, Coleman said, “In joining the Open Government Partnership, New Zealand is showing we are committed to promoting open and transparent government, and we look forward to sharing best practices and expertise with our overseas partners.”

By joining the OGP, New Zealand demonstrates support for the OGP’s Open Government Declaration (September 11). The Declaration states that OGP members are committed to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention Against Corruption, and other international instruments that underscore human rights and effective governance. Important aspects of this commitment are government transparency, empowering citizens, combatting corruption, and using new technologies to make government more accountable and effective, according to the Declaration.

Public consultation is a key aspect of the action plan’s development in New Zealand and other countries. By joining the OGP, New Zealand must create an action plan through a multi-stakeholder, open, and participatory process, according to the OGP website. The plan must include concrete and measurable action points to achieve reform in the areas of accountability, transparency, and citizen engagement. Secondly, countries must have a public timeline for creating their action plan. They must invite public consultation through multiple channels, such as online and face-to-face meetings. In addition, the public consultation process and individual written comment should be summarised in an accessible format such as a website.

After New Zealand began the process of joining the OGP in November 2013, it began working on its first action plan that is still in development. According to the OGP required timeline, New Zealand must finalise and post its first action plan by March 31 of the following year (2014 in this case).

Once the action plan is finished, each country must submit it to the OGP Support Unit and upload it on the OGP website. Two months after completing the first year of OGP implementation, governments must submit a self-assessment report based on OGP guidelines. Countries can produce an abbreviated self-assessment report at the one-year mark, and a complete self-assessment report two months after the end of the 2-year action plan cycle. Following this process, the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) provides biannual reports that self-assess the action plans for every OGP member country.

 

TIS Assessment and New Zealand’s OCP Participation

New Zealand’s OGP membership interfaces with the recommendations of TINZ’s assessment of the effectiveness of the country’s National Integrity System, published in 2013. The TIS Assessment’s second recommendation proposes that the Ministry of Justice implement a cross-government programme of broad public consultation to develop an OGP action plan.

Below is a chart detailing the NIS Assessment’s major and sub-recommendations for how New Zealand can achieve the OGP’s grand challenges. For more information about the OGP, please visit: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/

 

OGP Grand Challenges

Major NIS Recommendations

Sub-recommendations

Improving public services

  • National NZ anti-corruption strategy
  • Strengthen role of permanent public sector in regard to procurement, etc.
  • Create a cross-sector anti-corruption taskforce to develop NZ strategy

Improving public integrity

  • Ratification of UNCAC
  • National NZ anti-corruption strategy
  • Strengthen governance arrangements Executive and Parliament
  • Support and reinforce roles of Electoral Commission, Judiciary; and Ombudsman
  • Review of current anti-corruption legislation including a discussion on Misconduct in Public Office
  • Review the expansion of OIA to cover Parliament

More effectively managing public resources

  • Strengthen role of permanent public sector in regard to procurement, etc.
  • Support and reinforce roles of Electoral Commission, Judiciary; and Ombudsman
  • Public sector agencies to conduct further assessments and research
  • Create a Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee

 

Creating safer communities

  • Strengthen governance arrangements between central and local government
  • Improve transparency of environmental reporting
  • Roll out research into local integrity systems
  • Liaise with Maori, Pacifica and other communities to establish a shared understanding of integrity issues and expectations around anti-corruption
  • Review the transparency of police and other law enforcement agencies

Increasing corporate accountability

  • Business community, NGOs and media to take on a more proactive role
  • Create a cross-sector anti-corruption taskforce to develop and enforce NZ strategy
  • Develop a specific business anti-corruption/good governance framework to establish best practice in trade and also to ensure NZ business is up-to=speed with legal requirements of Crimes Act; US FCPA; (even the Dodds Frank Act); UK Bribery Act

Actions

Recent Activity

Defence Inquiry Media Release
Transparency needed to support the integrity of our Defence Force 2 Apr, 2017

Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 TINZ media release
Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index (TI CPI) has found that the New Zealand and Denmark public sectors are the least corrupt in the world. 25 Jan, 2017

TINZ OGP Submission
Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) submitted recommendations for New Zealand’s second Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan (NAP). Among the recommendations were a call for more ambition in creating NAPs and developing channels of communication for improving engagement with citizens. 19 Aug, 2016