Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


An Open Government Plan developed in secrecy


Public Good
Sent: Sunday 31 August 2014 12.00 a.m.

Media release

An Open Government Plan developed in secrecy is a contradiction in terms

The State Services Commission sent NZ’s Open Government Action Plan to the international Open Government Partnership (OGP) Secretariat on 31 July. The countries involved in the OGP since its inception - from the UK and US to Indonesia and Brazil - have signed up to meaningful and aspirational goals: better oversight, greater transparency and opportunities to involve the public in decision making.

This a great initiative for New Zealand then? On the one hand it is: NZ is committed to signing up. However without barely a nod to openness or the involvement of the public such an initiative would suggest the Government pre-selected the initiatives that were to be used as the broad themes for NZ’s plan and in the two meetings with the community and voluntary sector that did discuss the plan, participants were presented with these as ‘faits accomplis’.

The government’s proposed themes are:
• Better Public Services
• ICT Strategy and Action Plan which aims to improve digital access to government services
• The recommendations of the Transparency International 2013 assessment of New Zealand.

Meeting invitees gave a strong message that an “Open Government Partnership Action Plan” needed to start from widespread consultation, openness and non-partisan ideas, not a pre-determined, pro-National Party agenda. That was back in April. Subsequently the Cabinet has signed off the plan and sent it to OGP international secretariat for ratification. Aside from the broad themes no-one outside of government has a clue about what the Action Plan contains.

So, apart from the secrecy about the OGP Action Plan is there anything really wrong with the Government’s approach?

I think there is.

The OGP action plan is about open government. It beggars belief that its content is a closely held secret. The OGP’s international secretariat also demands community involvement in the development of OGP Action Plans. New Zealand’s Action Plan is almost guaranteed to fail on this count. This is surely embarrassing for New Zealand’s usual good reputation for openness and good governance.

Next, two of the proposed themes are highly partisan being taken from National Party programmes that are related to the Government’s privatisation and cost-cutting agenda.

Better Public Services was never consulted on and its DNA it assumes that privatising out will deliver better public services than public servants can. It presupposes that complex public services like social welfare and housing are essentially similar to private services like using a credit card or making an airline booking and can be delivered effectively under contract.

The second element of the plan is the Government’s Information and Communications Technology Strategy and Action Plan. However, the ICT Action Plan’s main purpose is to deliver savings of $100m/year to Government, which it aims to do by moving to ‘digital by default’ services. It does this without consideration for people who cannot use the standardised digital model because of poverty, disability, distance or language and literacy skills. This is important. Almost a quarter of a million New Zealand households have no internet connection.

The third strand of the proposed action plan – the implementation of some of Transparency International’s 2013 recommendations - is more promising. The recommendations are high-quality, evidence- based, non-partisan proposals arrived at after an open process and wide consultation. They include sorting out our political party funding, securing our strong corruption-free reputation in changing circumstances, and pointing out that our media, with its narrow owner-base and funding problems, is a bar to a healthy democracy. Even here the details proposed by government are nonetheless still a) secret and b) predetermined by Government and c) there are no guarantees that the government and community priorities would be aligned.

Given the use of urgency, low levels of meaningful consultation and increased level of concern expressed by NGOs about their advocacy role and more recently the Dirty politics revelations the Government must realise it is on shaky ground regarding openness and transparency. It has not been open with us about many things and so it’s hard to see how having NZ join up to the Open Government Partnership will be seen as anything more than lipservice. Even the most Pollyanna-ish amongst us might wonder quite what would change with an OGP Action Plan that has been devised by government with minimal public input and signed off in secret.

References
Better Public Services Results programme showing the preference for ‘best sourcing’ or business style services and privatised delivery.
ICT Strategy and Action Plan to 2017 showing savings as the main objective.
Transparency International NZ National Integrity System Assessment
Transparency International Recommendations
The State Services Commission's Open government partnership web page
The International Open Government Partnership (OGP) website.
State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman’s 13 November 2013 press release
IGPS lecture and resources about the open government partnership
Stomping all over ‘grass-roots’ advocacy and activism (presentation of 2013 research results) Sandra Grey, Charles Sedgwick and Jared Commerer
Fears, constraints and contracts by Sandra Grey and Charles Sedgwick

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

NZ Herald Link: Alleged Email From Hollywood Exec Claims PM In On Plan To Extradite Dotcom - Warner Brothers Issues Denial
From July - Background: Gordon Campbell On The Dotcom Emails

Gordon Campbell:
On The Glenn Greenwald Revelations

The problem with Key’s belated plea for trust – and with his claim that Kim Dotcom is the only person here disclosing information for political purposes – is that Key patently did not behave honestly last year when the GCSB legislation was being was going through Parliament.

For example: New Zealanders were never told that the GCSB was scoping out a system of mass surveillance, one that had got to the stage of power points and pdfs and a working relationship with the NSA to enable its implementation. Instead, Key was assuring us that a system of mass surveillance was not an issue, never had been etc etc And that the GCSB law change was merely a matter of tidying up the precious law.

Tonight we will see Greenwald’s evidence. Yet in terns of basic logic, Key’s claims appear implausible. More>>

 
 

Parliament Today:

Pre-Election Chartering: Four New Partnership Schools To Open

Education Minister Hekia Parata today announced the Government has signed contracts to open four new Partnership Schools in 2015. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf 50 Out Now - The Election Issue: Loss Leaders

Gordon Campbell: A third term requires a mature decision, with eyes wide open. It calls for a conscious vote of confidence… Without trying hard here are about 19 reasons, in no particular order, for not ticking ‘party vote’ National. More>>

ALSO:

Not-Especially New Plans: All Prisons To Become Working Prisons Under National

All public prisons in New Zealand will become full working prisons by 2017, and ex-prisoners will receive post-release drug addiction treatment if National is returned to government, says Corrections Spokesperson Anne Tolley. More>>

ALSO:

Māngere: "False Claim Of Matai Title" - Labour

National must explain why its candidate for Māngere Misa Fia Turner appears to be using a Matai title she is not entitled to, Labour’s MP for Māngere and Pacific Islands Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio says. A Matai title is a legally-recognised ... More>>

ALSO:

CPAG Report: No New Zealand Child Should Grow Up In Poverty

Child Poverty Action Group's flagship policy publication Our Children, Our Choice: Priorities for Policy calls for cross party political agreement to underpin an action plan to eliminate child poverty in New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On National’s Phantom Tax Cut Package

Hmmm. So National’s tax cuts package turns out to be one of those television advertisements that screams a headline promise – perfect skin! a youth tonic that works! – while in very small print there’s an out clause: special conditions may apply. More>>

ALSO:

Water: New Marine Reserves On West Coast Opened

Five new marine reserves were officially opened by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith on the West Coast of the South Island to protect a range of marine ecosystems for conservation, science and recreation. More>>

ALSO:

Perception: Study Looks At Trustworthiness And Support Of Politicians

A University of Canterbury marketing study has looked at what impact the Thatcher Effect has on perceptions of trustworthiness and liking of New Zealand politicians leading up to the 2014 general election. More>>

ALSO:

History Lessons: Jamie Whyte At ACT Campaign Opening

It is nearly 20 years since the ACT party was born. Many people no longer remember why it was named ACT. They may imagine that it was on account of our determination to actually do things in parliament rather than simply occupy the seats and collect the salaries. That’s true but it isn’t the right answer... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news