Thursday, December 01, 2022

Open Government: Not achieved

Newsroom reports on the reaction from civil society organisations to Labour's new draft Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, and its pretty scathing:

The Government’s claims to greater openness and transparency have yet again been called into question, with New Zealand’s latest open government plan containing proposals “so weak as to be a joke” according to some.

Civil society groups have lashed officials’ and politicians' failure to properly include their voice and produce an ambitious document, questioning whether it is worth their time to take part.

Transparency International rates it as "not achieved". The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties feels they wasted their time. Amnesty International "had stepped back from involvement in the process due to internal capacity issues" - meaning that they judged it as not worth the effort of participation. Which makes sense: the government has demanded a significant amount of free labour from these very busy organisations, then ignored them. They have basicly used them as a prop for their claims of co-creation, which were really nothing more than a box-ticking exercise, in order to boost their reputations. You can see why people might feel exploited by that, and why they might not be willing to participate in future.

There are countries which actually manage to do this right, which give real power to civil society to tell them "this is what we would like you to do", "this is how you can open government". The New Zealand government has been absolutely uninterested in that. They joined the OGP for the headline, and then focused resolutely on using it as a PR-scam, pretending their business-as-usual policies were change. The problem now is that even if they changed tomorrow, they're fucked. They've burned activists and civil society organisations on this four times now. Do they really think they'll get anyone to contribute again? Instead, it seems that we could get more progress by asking the OGP to throw New Zealand out, because it looks like the government needs that sort of shock to change its approach.