Monday, March 16, 2020

Open Government: Another farce

The government is currently "consulting" on developing its fourth national Action Plan under the Open Government Partnership. But according to Andrew Ecclestone, they're making the same mistakes they've made in previous years:

First, unlike most government consultation exercises, there has been no ministerial press release inviting people to take part. Nor did the Minister attend the workshop, unlike his predecessor. This absence speaks volumes about the priority given by the Minister, and a lack of understanding about the opportunity these plans provide, to build trust as well as delivering on their agenda.

Neither did the State Services Commissioner issue a release, or ensure the current work to develop the action plan appears on the all-of-government Consultations Listing page.

As of 10 March the government’s OGP twitter account has only published a single tweet about these workshops – on 10 February.

This might explain why less than twenty members of the public and civil society representatives were present at this first workshop in Wellington (excluding members of SSC’s advisory panel).

They're also signalled that any changes to the OIA are off the table, because the Minister is still trying to decide whether to conduct a review. So they're trying to have a conversation about transparency, while specifically excluding our primary transparency tool.

Shit like this is why I refuse to waste my time on this process. People's time is valuable, and there is an opportunity cost to participating in consultations (if only that it precludes participating in a different one). it makes sense to put your efforts towards things where you will be listened to and your views considered, rather than things where you're just a prop so some official can tick a box. Sadly, Labour's entire "open government" platform seems to fall into the latter category. As for how they could change this, the Minister actually showing some leadership and stumping up some money so agencies can offer commitments beyond business-as-usual things they were going to do anyway would be a start.