Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Open Government: Compare and contrast

In late 2013 New Zealand announced it would be joining the Open Government Partnership. One of the core requirements of OGP membership is the co-creation with civil society of a National Action Plan, setting out targets and benchmarks for open government measures. The New Zealand government did this wrong from the very beginning, running a mockery of a consultation process which (they advised) "does not provide communities with the opportunity to comment on the development or content of the Action Plan".

Meanwhile, over the Tasman, Australia has announced it will be re-joining the OGP (after secretive Tony Abbot withdrew from the application process). They're currently developing their National Action Plan. So how are they doing it? With a six-month, multi-phase consultation process which solicits and votes on commitments from civil society. The government will still have the final word based on "what is possible and practical to endorse", but everything that was suggested (and turned down) will be public and part of their reporting on the process. The difference with New Zealand's process - which basicly pre-decided everything then ran a box-ticking "consultation exercise" as cover - couldn't be starker.

According to the OGP's timeline, New Zealand is supposed to start developing its second action plan early next year. Hopefully they'll learn some lessons from the past and use the Australian process, rather than simply seeking to have us endorse government's ideas of "open government".