Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Open Government: Unilateral

Back in April, State Services Minister Paula Bennett announced in an answer to a Parlaimentary written question that we were consulting the Open Government Secretariat about an extension to the deadline for submitting our action plan:

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.

So was there any consultation? Of course not. I asked the OGP under its information disclosure policy for all communications with the New Zealand government on this issue. I received their response today, and there were no "consultations". The first OGP heard of New Zealand's intention to ignore its obligations was when SSC told them we were (the attached letter is here). No advice was sought beforehand on whether this complied with OGP rules. Instead, SSC decided unilaterally that they didn't apply to us. In response, OGP apparently directed New Zealand to the OGP's "rules regarding delays", which highlight that missing a deadline by more than four months could result in a referral to the Criteria and Standards subcommittee and possible ejection from the OGP.

The obvious question: was Bennett lying, or did SSC simply not do what she said they'd do? Either way, she owes us some answers.