Tuesday, February 19, 2019

"More ambitious"?

Newsroom reports on the OGP IRM report into our last Open Government Partnership Action Plan. They highlight the IRM' assessment of progress as "marginal" and their criticism that the "commitments" were chosen so they "would get completed in that time so they would not be recorded as not completed". And then State Services Minister Chris Hipkins tries to pretend that things have changed:

State Services Minister Chris Hipkins, who absorbed Curran’s open government responsibility, told Newsroom he agreed with Booth about the scope of the “utterly unambitious plan” under the last government, saying the follow-up plan for 2018 to 2020 was more ambitious but there was room to do even more.

“Rather than taking the new plan as being the ultimate end state, I’m going to push hard to go even further and faster.”


“I don’t think anyone’s taken their foot off the accelerator - in fact, quite the opposite.”

Except when you look at their latest OGP Action Plan - completed last year under Labour - its the same problem: business-as-usual commitments, chosen to ensure completion. Most of the commitments were well underway before the plan began, and many have completion dates within six months of announcement, and some announced their completion shortly afterwards. Which tells you that they were existing work shoved under the OGP brand for "quick wins" (even the very welcome proactive release of cabinet material falls into this category: despite saying work would begin in October 2018, it had actually begun back in February). Meanwhile, ideas which would result in transformative change and a real opening of government - like OIA reform, real protection for whistleblowers, and public registers of company beneficial ownership - have been ignored. So you really have to wonder where the Minister is getting his information from, and whether letting the change-averse SSC filter everything on the topic for him is a good idea.