Update on developing the next Open Government Action Plan

This update is about the ‘fledgling commitments’ developed so far for possible inclusion in the country’s next Open Government Action Plan. It provides an opportunity to download the details of where we’ve got to, and to provide feedback and comments before the next stage of the work.

As we have written before, Aotearoa New Zealand has been a member of an international organisation called the Open Government Partnership since 2013. The OGP is based on the idea that an open government is more accessible, more responsive, and more accountable to citizens, and that improving the relationship between people and their government has long-term benefits for everyone through better policies and services. From the Council’s perspective, open government is a key component in protecting and enhancing our rights and civil liberties. We have dedicated significant volunteer time over the last couple of years to working, together with other civil society organisations, on developing the country’s next open government action plan.

A country’s OGP National Action Plan should contain commitments designed jointly by the government, civil society organisations, and the public. The commitments describe actions that will be taken in a particular area of work, with the overall goal of improving the openness of government. The specific goals of the commitment may focus on one or more of the following broad issues:

  • improving access to information
  • improving participation in policy or service design
  • improving accountability

The commitments may rely on using information technology to help with making changes to achieve those goals. The final plan is agreed to by the Cabinet, and then work begins on implementing the commitments. Ideally the lead government department for each commitment should involve civil society organisations or interested members of the public in the work. New Zealand’s next plan must be submitted to the Open Government Partnership by the end of 2022, and will be implemented during 2023-2024.

In 2020-2021 the Public Service Commission / Te Kawa Mataaho held meetings around the country to collect ideas from the public and civil society organisations on what might be included in the next plan. After this, workshops were held to group similar ideas together, and this resulted in advice to the Minister for Public Services (Chris Hipkins) in October 2021 on four broad groupings of ideas:

  1. Enabling participation by individuals and groups
  2. Access to and usability of public information
  3. Government use of data and personal information
  4. Information to support the financial accountability of the government

Between 11 April and 30 May 2022, the Commission held four workshops to discuss ideas in these four broad areas for potential commitments that could be included in the next Action Plan. Attending the workshops were officials from the Commission, representatives of civil society organisations that decided to get involved with this work, members of the government’s Expert Advisory Panel on open government, and officials from other government departments.

The aim of the workshops was to start fleshing out these ideas into ‘fledgling commitments’.

The Council, and other civil society organisations involved in the work, are keen to share the progress so far, and to hear other people’s thoughts on how these ‘fledgling commitments’ might be improved.

We’ve organised the documents from the four workshops into folders, and they’re all contained in the zipped folder you can download below.

There is a ‘Read Me’ file in the folder, explaining the documents.

If you are interested in providing feedback or suggestions on the fledgling commitments, or commenting on what you think are the most important ones to include in the Action Plan, email addresses for sending this feedback are in the ‘Read Me’ file. If you have difficulties downloading the documents, email secretary@nzccl.org.nz for assistance.

Please provide feedback or comments before the end of July 2022, as work will begin soon to refine the ‘fledgling commitments’ into detailed draft commitments. The draft commitments need to be ready for inclusion in the draft Action Plan by mid-September, so this is a key stage of the work, and your opportunity to have a say on what the next Action Plan should commit the country to achieving. Further information can be found on the Public Service Commission’s website for the Action Plans: www.ogp.org.nz 

Download the zipped folder.