Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Open Government: How did that happen?

Back in April, the government announced a unilateral delay in meeting our obligations to the Open Government Partnership. It was a significant decision, and a risky one - being even a day late on their new timetable means a real risk of being thrown out of the OGP - so its the sort of thing you would expect to have been kicked upstairs to the Minister. So I was quite surprised to see yesterday that Paula Bennett had not been briefed on any OGP issues in April (or in January, February, or March).

There's a big caveat on those lists of briefings, of course:

Certain briefings and reports have been omitted from this response where there are matters under consideration, forthcoming decisions and announcements, or where an individual’s privacy would be compromised by the release of the briefing title.

But none of these circumstances apply. The decision to delay has been made, the issue is no longer under consideration, there's no announcements planned (SSC never announced the delay, except in a buried section of their own website), and there's certainly no issue of privacy. So, taking the Minister at her word, and assuming that she's not lying to Parliament for shits and giggles, she was not briefed. Which raises the obvious question: is the Minister totally out of the loop? How the hell are these decisions being made, if not by her?

I have an OIA due back this afternoon from SSC which might answer some of those questions. And if it shows briefings to the Minister which weren't on Bennett's lists, then I think someone else should be asking some very pointy questions, via the Privileges Committee.