Friday, November 25, 2022

Open Government: Another farce

Yesterday the government released its draft Fourth Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2023-24 for consultation. Like previous versions, the plan was meant to be "co-created" with civil society. And like previous versions, that obligation seems to have been observed mainly in the breach, with the government conducting a series of sham "consultation" events around the country, then ignoring practically every piece of input they got from them. As for the outcome, the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties is scathing:

In spite of the Minister’s instruction to officials, the ‘draft’ Action Plan launched today for 2 weeks of public consultation is yet another weak action plan stuffed full of pre-existing or already planned programmes of work by government departments.3

Only two of the eight commitments in the plan are pieces of work that would not have taken place without civil society input, and one of these is so weak as to be a joke.

They then go on to describe the plan as full of "tools for officials" which would have happened anyway - a clear violation of the OGP's additionality requirement.

Last year, ten top civil society organisations wrote to Chris Hipkins about the co-creation process, threatening to walk away unless they saw improvements. I'm now wondering if they'll carry out that threat. Because clearly participating in the government's sham "co-creation" process is a waste of time, and a distraction from other things they could be doing. And after four times round, the government is clearly not going to change its stripes on this. They signed up to the OGP solely for the PR value, with no intention of actually opening government, and they've given no indication that that attitude has changed. Its time to end the farce, and instead of collaborating, call for NZ's suspension from the OGP.