Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Open Government: Oh FFS

It is now 63 days until New Zealand's second National Action Plan must be presented to the Open Government Partnership. A requirement of OGP membership is that action plans be co-created with civil society, including a mandatory consultationperiod during development. So when is consultation on New Zealand's action plan scheduled to begin and how long will it last? The Minister won't say, and their answer implies heavily that they are still waiting for advice on it. And thanks to Kris Faafoi's useful monitoring questions, we know that she didn't receive any advice on the OGP in March, or in February, or in January, despite there being a consultation process to plan.

It gets worse. What awareness-raising activities, required by the OGP's articles of governance, has the New Zealand government undertaken? She's still waiting for advice on that as well, it seems. Does she even know when its due? Yes, but she seems to think the deadline is negotiable:

While New Zealand's second Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan is due to be submitted to the OGP by 30 June 2016, New Zealand intends to consult the OGP Secretariat on this timing to ensure that we can engage meaningfully in the development of the Action Plan.
There is, of course, no provision for extensions in the OGP statute. And its amazing that she's apparently decided this without ever having received any advice on it (you'd expect "ignore our international obligations and ask for an extension" to be a decision made by the Minister, not some public servant).

How has this happened? This might be the answer:
At any one time a minimum of one FTE in the State Services Commission (SSC) works on Open Government Partnership activities, with additional SSC staffing resources used as required.
One person. They have one person to handle what is supposed to be an ambitious, multi-departmental work programme with international obligations. No wonder its a fucking shambles.

Compare the answers from Bennett with the consultation requirements laid out in the OGP's Articles of Governance (p. 19). We've already failed on "availability of process and timeline", we've failed on "adequate notice", and we've utterly failed on "awareness raising". We will receive another negative report from the OGP's Independent Review Mechanism for this - and this after we promised them that we would fix those problems from our first consultation. Which means the possibility of a finding that we have ignored IRM recommendations, which (given we've already had one warning) means a referral to the OGP's Criteria and Standards Subcommittee and a formal membership suspension. That's what "open government" means under National: being suspended from the body which promotes it. Heckuva job they're doing, isn't it?