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Open Govt Partnership Report on NZ finds little improvement

DATE: 28 February 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Open Government Partnership Report on New Zealand finds little improvement

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - Today the Open Government Partnership (OGP) released its final report on New Zealand’s progress towards fulfilling its international commitments to transparency, accountability and participation.

OGP is a partnership of 75 governments and hundreds of civil society organizations working to make government more accountable to their citizens. At the core of OGP are national action plans which are composed of government commitments to improve transparency, open up decision-making, and make officials answerable to the public. In order to monitor progress and encourage continued momentum on the two year National Action plans, OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) team publishes annual reports that provide an assessment of countries’ progress in successfully implementing their commitments. Reports are carried out for each country by a national of that country. In New Zealand, Steven Price, Wellington barrister and senior research fellow with the New Zealand Centre for Public Law at Victoria University of Wellington, was the IRM researcher.

At the end of New Zealand’s first two-year action plan, the New Zealand IRM report finds that the plan did little to advance open government.

“The plan consisted almost entirely of things the government was doing anyway, and most of those things weren’t directly related to open government,” said Price. “So it’s not very surprising that it made little concrete difference to transparency, accountability or public participation”.

The report also criticised the way the plan was prepared. “The government fell well short of the sort of public collaboration that it promised when it signed up to the OGP,” said Price.

The report found some advances for open government, such as the public release of new datasets online. But in general, it found that New Zealand’s commitments lacked specific plans that might have paved the way toward significant reforms.

Finally, the report recommended that, in developing the next action plan, the government work with civil society to include more specific and measurable commitments better targeted to open government outcomes.

The report will be discussed at a forum at Victoria University of Wellington at lunchtime today. (The event will be held at 12:30 at Old Government Buildings Lecture Theatre 3, 55 Lambton Quay Wellington. The speakers will be Steven Price, transparency expert Murray Petrie and Deputy State Services Commissioner Al Morrison. The event is open to the public).

The OGP report was prepared in association with the New Zealand Centre for Public Law at Victoria University of Wellington. It can be found at http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/New-Zealand_EOTR_2014-2016.pdf

The government has now released its second OGP action plan, which is available at: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/New-Zealand_National-Action-Plan_2016-2018.pdf

-Ends-

About OGP

OGP is a unique multilateral initiative aimed at securing concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make governments more open, effective, and accountable to citizens around the world.

OGP was formally launched in September 2011 when eight founding governments – Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States – endorsed an Open Government Declaration, and published OGP National Action Plans with specific open government reform commitments. In just four and a half years OGP has grown to include 75 governments, seven multilaterals and hundreds of civil society organizations. New Zealand joined in 2013.

The New Zealand IRM Progress Report was prepared in association with the New Zealand Centre for Public Law at Victoria University of Wellington.


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