Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Open Government: Doing it wrong from the very beginning

In 2013, New Zealand announced its intention to join the Open Government Partnership. I've already criticised the mockery of a consultation process they held in developing their action plan, but how did it go so wrong? Because they were never committed to public consultation in the first place. For the past eighteen months I've been seeking their advice on this process, and finally (after the intervention of the Ombudsman's office) its been released. And the key revelation? They never intended to meaningfully consult anyone. Here are the "consultation" options they proposed to take to Cabinet:

In the end they went for option b, which as they note "does not provide communities with the opportunity to comment on the development or content of the Action Plan" - that is, does not comply with basic OGP principles. Their excuse for this was tight timelines - but their own timeline shows months of consultation with other government departments. The public, though, we're an afterthought - when we were supposed to be at the heart of this process.

This is a basic failure to comply, right from the very beginning. And we deserve to be internationally criticised for it.