Open Government Letter to Chris Hipkins

In March 2021 TINZ convened a meeting of ten civil society organisations with an interest in open government to discuss a collective response to the consultation, an approach found to be successful in other countries working on their National Action Plans.

Attendees expressed general disappointment with New Zealand’s progress on open government since it joined the OGP in 2014. The feeling was that the first three action plans were unsuccessful in both ambition and delivery. The group agreed that there was a high risk of NAP4 delivering the same inadequate result, unless there were changes in the approach to the development of the plan.

TINZ has identified three specific problem areas:

  • The current plan is being developed without any budget for the commitments. Achieving ambitious goals requires funded projects, which can only happen if the development of the plan is integrated into the annual budget cycle. Previous commitments have been constrained in ambition and delivery by lack of funding.
  • The process does not involve co-creation, being a traditional consultation with insufficient time for substantive engagement. This is counter to the recommendations for better methods of public participation in both the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) Policy Project Guidance and the Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the Christchurch terrorist attack, as well as the OGP’s own standards.  Co-creation was also a recommendation of the OGP Independent Review Mechanism, in their New Zealand Design Report 2018-2020.
  • The work to co-create the action plan is insufficiently resourced to achieve high quality public participation. So it is unlikely to lead to an inspiring or effective plan that government agencies and civil society can commit to with enthusiasm.

The group has sent a letter to the Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister for the Public Service, seeking a meeting to discuss extending the period for co-creation of NAP4, thereby enabling funding for the plan to be included in Budget 2022. As a result, the plan would be submitted to the OGP in June 2022. This would enable more ambitious goals to be co-created with deeper civil society engagement, and support substantial movement towards more open government.

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