Open Government Partnership: Progressing New Zealand’s National Action Plans

OGP NAP 2016-2018: IRM mid-term progress report findings (Image provided by OGP)

David Dunsheath

Member with delegated authority on Open Government

Given the successes of populist political movements and misuse of alternative truths, facilitated in part by insidious manipulation of naïve users of social media, there is a compelling need for political mechanisms that reliably engage a broad cross-section of citizens to democratically steer the future of their countries. One such mechanism is the international Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative to which New Zealand has been a signatory since 2013.

Independent review of current National Action Plan 2016-2018 

Further to progress outlined in the Transparency Times February 2018 issue, New Zealand’s OGP Independent Researcher, Keitha Booth, launched her finalised mid-term (2017) report on the implementation of the current OGP National Action Plan (OGP NAP 2016-18) on 26 March 2018. This report was prepared under international requirements of the OGP Independent Report Mechanism (IRM).

Keitha presented her findings to a full house of civil society representatives. Broad ranging aspects were covered by other speakers in the following order: Ronja Ivers (UNA NZ), Anaru Fraser (Hui E!), Suzanne Snively (TINZ) and Catherine Williams (State Services Commission). 

Within her Progress Report, Booth provides observations and recommendations on progress with each of the seven Commitments in the current plan. Of these, four are considered ‘substantially’ completed and the remaining three to have ‘limited’ completion.

Booth drew on her findings to trigger general recommendations for the Government’s development of its next OGP NAP 2018-2020, including pertinent ‘stakeholder priorities’:

  • Improve access to information legislation and practice
  • Improve public participation in budgetary matters
  • Strengthen whistleblowing legislation
  • Introduce citizen education to increase understanding of democracy
  • Illustrate how open data encourages transparency and openness through business and community involvement in government decision-making
  • Establish ongoing relationship between government, civil society and the public.

 

From these priorities, stem the following recommendations:

  • Reform of official information laws to publish social, environmental and budget expenditure data
  • Expand the Expert Advisory Panel to include greater civil society representation
  • Develop standards for public consultation on policy issues
  • Reform whistleblowing laws to increase awareness and protections for whistleblowers
  • Establish a public central register of company beneficial ownership.

Process for development of National Action Plan 2018-2020

The process for the development of the National Action Plan (NAP) 2018-2020 was launched on 4 April 2018 by the Associate Minister of State Services (Open Government) as outlined here. Included is the opportunity for ideas to be generated, themes to be identified and then discussed, leading to the synthesis of themes into possible commitments for consideration and prioritisation for consideration by the Government. 

TINZ was pleased to accept an invitation from Catherine Williams, Deputy Commissioner Integrity, Ethics & Standards (Acting) of State Services Commission, for a high level OGP discussion held on 14 March, . TINZ was represented by Michael Macaulay, Suzanne Carter and David Dunsheath.

Discussion focussed on options for development of this new plan to be published later this year. The Government’s timeline yet to be made public will incorporate extensive public consultations with community groups throughout New Zealand. This bottom-up approach is to be applauded, following significant shortfall with the rushed, narrow consultation processes undertaken for each of the previous two OGP NAPs.  

IRM Independent Researcher, Keitha Booth, presenting her OGP progress report on 26 March 2018
UNANZ Administrator, Ronja Ivers, speaking at the IRM OGP report launch 26 March 2018

 

Deputy Secretary, State Services Commission, Catherine-Williams, commenting at the IRM OGP report launch on 26 March 2018
GM-Hui E!, Anaru Fraser, speaking at the IRM OGP report launch 26 March 2018

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