Friday, August 05, 2016

Open government: My answers

Yesterday the SSC and Engage2 began their first real engagement on the Open Government Partnership second national action plan, with a series of questions about themes for the action plan. Here's the answers I gave:

How could we improve on New Zealand’s last National Action Plan?

  • Having commitments which are actually additional rather than simply pre-existing programs shoved under the banner of the OGP.
  • Having commitments which are actually ambitious and contribute to the OGP's "race to the top" rather than unambitious tinkering.
  • Having commitments strongly tied to the OGP's core themes and values, rather than ones which are only weakly connected.
  • Having commitments which reflect the demands of civil society rather than SSC bureaucrats.
What does open government mean to you in practice?

Transparency. There are related values, but transparency is supreme. That's why they call it "open" government.

What do you think should be the themes of the second National Action Plan for Open Government should be? e.g. Open data, engagement, open budgets?
  • Transparency. There is obvious scope to build on the Ombudsman and Law Commission's work reviewing the OIA, as well as some easy to implement but highly ambitious options which could be pursued (e.g. Cabinet transparency, with automatic release of Cabinet papers and minutes)
  • Anti-corruption: this ties into the reaction to the Panama papers. Other countries (e.g. the UK) have led on this, establishing public beneficial ownership and lobbying registers, and New Zealand should follow.
  • I am not interested in Open Data. The government choosing what to make open and what to keep secret is not true openness.
  • I oppose use of the OGP Action Plan to legitimise the Data Futures Forum / IDI / Social Investment Agenda. The mass data mining of the New Zealand public is not about open government, and has huge privacy implications. That's not what the OGP is about, and SSC should not use the OGP as a trojan horse for it.
If you're planning to contribute to the engagement process, you might want to think about your answers. What themes do you want to see?