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Government improves participation with the public

30 September 2019

Open Government Partnership's independent report on NZ's National Action Plan Design finds improved public engagement and seeks more aspirational open government commitments in 2020.

Government improves participation with the public on open government issues and could develop aspirational commitments for 2020-2022 through even more engagement with New Zealand’s Māori, Pasifika and migrant communities.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – According to the latest Open Government Partnership (OGP) independent report on New Zealand, government officials and its Expert Advisory Panel gathered more than 200 people and received close to 500 ideas to be considered for the country’s third OGP action plan. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a partnership of 99 governments and hundreds of civil society organisations working to make government more accountable to their citizens.

Using online tools and at regional workshops, citizens voiced their needs and proposals to address key issues like official information legislation reform, citizenship education, and open procurement through open government initiatives. Delegates represented more diversity than at workshops in previous years. However, participants were not able to determine the final contents of the plan. It is a shame that a civil society group has not emerged to partner in developing the plan.

The report suggests enhancing the current multi-stakeholder forum to bring together more civil society groups and government officials to increase public engagement and ensure that citizens have a say in reforms that impact their lives. One stakeholder suggested the “State Services Commission and the Expert Advisory group give some thought to how a grouping could be nurtured from the existing interested parties and NGOs... to partner in developing the plan”.

There is also space to offer more civic participation and public accountability commitments through citizen assemblies and participatory budgeting and to work with local government, all sought by public submitters. One said that local government, a “ large section of government not participating in OGP [is a] key part of civil society”. Government and the Expert Advisory Panel say there will be consideration of “local government involvement during development of fourth National Action Plan 2020-22”.

The country’s commitment to create and release a master dataset of government organisations could transform how businesses deliver digital services for the government. The NZRise group of IT business leaders describes this commitment as "fantastic". The report also proposes continued work to strengthen high-quality public media reporting of local government, and to continue supporting existing commitments such as the reform of New Zealand’s official information law, enhancing civil society/government engagement and applying civics education learning at community and local government level.

New Zealand has been a member of OGP since 2013 and is currently implementing 12 commitments such as increasing citizens’ access to all secondary legislation, a reform that will see transformative changes in the political and citizen landscapes, reviewing government’s use of operational algorithms and work to raise public engagement with Parliament. The Design Report on New Zealand’s OGP National Action Plan 2018-2020 is now open for public comment through https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/new-zealand-design-report-2018-2020-for-public-comment/

About OGP

In 2011, government leaders and civil society advocates came together to create a unique partnership—one that combines these powerful forces to promote accountable, responsive and inclusive governance. Seventy-nine countries and a growing number of local governments—representing more than two billion people—along with thousands of civil society organizations are members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

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