Friday, August 07, 2015

Open government: We're doing it wrong

Earlier in the week the government finally announced the appointment of the Stakeholder Advisory Group required under the Open Government Partnership, with not a former National MP in sight! It also announced that it was beginning public consultation on its Midterm Self-Assessment Report, which is due at the end of September. But there's a hitch: they're doing it wrong.

What OGP members are supposed to do is consult on their draft reports. Its right there in the OGP's procedures manual [p. 39]:

All countries are required to have at least a two-week public comment period on draft self-assessment reports before finalizing, for public input on implementation performance into account.

And here's an example of how the UK did it.

Instead, National is consulting at the beginning of the process, asking vague questions about its unambitious "goals". Which means that unless they hold another round of consultation before the report is submitted (highly unlikely given the timeframe), New Zealand will fail its first assessment under the OGP.

Heckuva job, guys. Glad to know you're on the case.

And on the positive side: it will be good to have the government called on its bullshit. Because right from the beginning, its been clear that they've had no real commitment to the OGP. They dithered over joining, ignored consultation requirements in developing their action plan, then chose completely unambitious goals which were basicly stuff they were doing anyway. They're not interested in open government, and they're certainly not interested in greater transparency. And having a formal declaration of that from an international body might be the only way to get some change.