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NZ's open government work brings only marginal change

New Zealand’s open government work over 2016-2018 brings only marginal change in government practice, new report suggests.

29 March 2019

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – Today, Open Government Partnership (OGP) - a partnership of 99 governments and hundreds of civil society organisations working to make government more accountable to their citizens - released its End-of-term Report on New Zealand’s OGP National Action Plan 2016-2018.

Findings show that although the government completed most of its work on New Zealand’s open government commitments, early results have so far been marginal. As anticipated in the OGP’s Mid-term progress report released in March 2018, the second plan has not made the ambitious steps towards the openness and transparency that many New Zealanders want. However, there is optimism that the new 2018-2020 plan is picking up some long-standing open government issues.

The report notes incremental progress in key areas: better readability of budget documents, better response rates to routine OIA requests; new public engagement advice and tools; and progress improving access to all secondary legislation.

However, improved response rates to all OIA requests are needed, the OIA extended to cover the officers of Parliament, and evidence of movement towards co-creation of government policy.

The report notes that New Zealand’s 2018-2020 action plan, released in December 2018, has fully or partly adopted the OGP’s mid-term recommendations, in particular, work to involve youth in the Parliamentary process and first steps towards civics education for all young people. Potential reform of the Official Information Act and action to engage actively with the public on a ‘live’ policy issue have been welcomed.

This report seeks full reform of the Official Information Act and open government performance added to public sector chief executives’ contracts and to the new well-being indicators.

Booth further recommends that the government jointly develops and finalises the next national action plan with civil society organisations and the public.

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