Thursday, August 27, 2015

Open Government: Doing it really wrong

Earlier in the week I blogged about the State Services Commission's response to an OIA request seeking information about their current consultation on the Open Government Partnership Midterm Self-Assessment Report. When faced with a clear request for advice on the consultation process, SSC played the "due particularity" game, asking "duh, which consultation" (they also refused a request for the report itself, which under OGP rules should have been released at the start of the consultation because that's what people are being consulted about). And now that I've jumped through their hoop and confirmed that when I asked about advice on the Midterm Self-Assessment Report, I really did mean the Midterm Self-Assessment Report, and not something else, they've come back with another delay: a two-month extension until October 27 due to the "large quantity of information" involved.

And if you believe that the SSC really got so much advice on their OGP consultation that they need two months to look through it all, I have a building on The Terrace to sell you. Instead, it looks like they're blatantly trying to bury information - not just until after the consultation period has ended and the report has been submitted, but until after the OGP Summit in Mexico (which just happens to be on October 27. What a coincidence!) You can draw some obvious conclusions about why they might want to be doing that, but regardless, its unacceptable. So I'm off to the Ombudsman with an urgent complaint. I guess we'll see whether I even get a number before SSC responds.

Meanwhile, people might like to think about the irony of SSC going to these lengths to bury information about open government - and what that says about New Zealand's commitment to the OGP.