Thursday, March 31, 2016

Open Government: Finally, some attention

One of the reasons the State Services Commission's management of New Zealand's participation in the Open Government partnership has been such a miserable failure has been the lack of political attention paid to it. The Minister doesn't care, and as the Opposition doesn't care either, she has no incentive to. But that might be about to change. Last week, Labour Open Government Spokesperson Clare Curran lodged a series of parliamentary questions inquiring about the OGP, including these ones:

  • What lessons have been learnt from the first interim report and independent review mechanism, if any, and how will these lessons to inform the 2016-18 Open Government Partnership Action Plan?
  • What action has the minister taken, if any, to address issues raised in the New Zealand interim self-assessment OGP report and independent review mechanism report to ensure that the 2014-16 action plan implementation improves?
  • What instructions has the Minister given, if any, to ensure that the 2016-18 Open Government Partnership Action Plan does not reproduce the identified lack of civil society consultation noted by both the January 2016 self-assessment report and the independent review mechanism report?
The best way to get a Minister paying attention to something is for the opposition or journalists to start asking about it. Unfortunately, its rather too late for this action plan - its three months until the deadline, so even with the best will in the world, there is simply not enough time to properly co-create an action plan with civil society, let alone get it improved by Cabinet; in order for that to happen, SSC would have had to start six months ago. So, instead, we're going to get the usual bullshit of a two week "consultation period" on decisions which have already been made, for unambitious "commitments" which are really just rebranding existing programmes. But maybe this time the Minister will actually get angry about it and force change for the future.