Article – Open Source Open Society

New Zealands Open Government Partnership Action Plan is open for consultation until the end of day on this Friday 26 August. If you care about transparency, accountability participation and better use of technology in the way our government is run then …Last Days to Contribute to NZ Open Government Action Plan

New Zealand’s ‘Open Government Partnership’ Action Plan is open for consultation until the end of day on this Friday 26 August. If you care about transparency, accountability participation and better use of technology in the way our government is run then you should make a submission here. If you are in Wellington there is also a final full day co-creation workshop on this Friday where you can get involved at a deeper level. See the Press release published on Scoop yesterday here for further details.

Our position as a leader in this space is at threat

New Zealand has had very good fiscal and government accountability and transparency reputation, however recent developments such as the Panama Papers and increasingly poor public consultation processes are threatening this reputation. As Susanne Snively, chair of Transparency International New Zealand said at yesterday’s Open Source Open Society Conference in Wellington, our position as a leader in this space is slipping due to complacency and lack of ambition to look towards transparency and accountability in a modern society as other nations are doing.

A thorough Open Government Partnership commissioned independent review of New Zealand’s previous Action Plan by Privacy Lawyer Steven Price noted widespread criticism of the lack of ambition and poor engagement in this process. It appears that this has been a wakeup call for the State Services Commission and they have finally determined to create something more ambitious and incorporate more public input into the process.

Why does Open Government matter?

Open Government may not sound particularly exciting or important but it has huge impacts on our ability to participate in democracy and to engage better with government processes and services. Open government means making it easier for more people to tell government what sort of society they want and removing barriers preventing people from accessing important information, data or technology from government.

It means making information on government spending and decision making more visible to the public and giving them real opportunities to participate in such decisions. It means more open data to enable New Zealanders to make useful applications to add a human interface to data both in the commercial and democracy spaces. It also means making better use of both technology based and offline facilitation and outreach approaches to provide opportunities for both young and older people to participate in important decisions and have their voice heard by decision makers.

How to have your say this week?

You can submit to the OGP consultation process on what a more open government should look like here. Your 500 words will be combined by the State Services Commission into a Cabinet Paper that will be considered by Cabinet over the next months before a plan is finalised in September. You can also submit your opinions directly by email to or by phone on 021 678 356.

What Next for Open Government in NZ?
Unfortunately, although it is a step in the right direction, due to the rushed timeframes it is probably highly unlikely that this plan will be ambitious enough to put New Zealand back in the position of being a leader in the open government space. However, we can also continue to engage with government on this issue to put pressure on them to incorporate more ambitious open government policies and actions over the next two years as this Action Plan is implemented. In addition we can continue to support civil society initiatives that seek to develop outside of government solutions to this problem of creating more opportunities to better engage with government.
Judging by the level of highly skilled and passionate people committed to solving this problem at OS//OS yesterday, New Zealand has the expertise and knowledge to once again be a leader in open government. We now just need the ambition and ironically the opportunities for citizens and industry to participate in the process in meaningful ways.

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