Open Government Partnership New Zealand National Action Plan 2018-2020
Progress report to: June 2019
Lead agency: Department of Internal Affairs
Objective: To release and maintain an authoritative dataset of government organisations as open, machine-readable data to enhance the transparency of government structures to the public.
There will be cross-agency agreement to maintain this dataset, providing assurance that the data being used is the authoritative source. This dataset becomes a foundation for both digital services and information about government.
Ambition: New Zealanders and others will have access to authoritative, open data about government agencies and their roles, learn more about how government is structured, what agencies do, and be able to reuse the open data in new and innovative ways.
OGP values: Transparency, Accountability and Technology and Innovation
Identify owners contributors and maintainers for the data held in the proposed dataset.
Start/End dates: October 2018-December 2018
Investigate and agree on the appropriate open standards for the dataset.
Start/End dates: October 2018-December 2019
Work with identified dataset contributors to agree process for ongoing maintenance of the dataset.
Start/End dates: December 2018-June 2019
Release the open data set on data.govt.nz and make it available via the data.govt.nz open data Application Programming Interface (API), and promote the opportunities of reuse that the dataset provides with government agencies, non-governmental organisations, business, and the public.
Start/End dates: December 2018-June 2020
What we have been doing
- Working with State Services Commission (SSC) on releasing Legal Title and Type (e.g. Public Service) as open data on data.govt.nz. This is a first step towards the wider government organisation dataset.
- Continuing to discuss how the dataset(s) will be maintained. The discussions are happening in parallel to refining the draft open standard and will reflect the requirements of the government agency involved. They will continue to iterate until the standard is finalised in December 2019.
- Requesting feedback on the reference model and draft open standard for the dataset both from the government agencies involved, as well as the wider open data and open government community. There has been some feedback via the Open Government Ninjas discussion group.
- Working with the Open Data Programme at Statistics NZ to run a session for anyone interested in open data and open government to get feedback on the reference model, draft open standard, plus map the different applications for the data.
- Continuing to meet with other identified agencies who own specific dataset fields (The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), Archives New Zealand, The Treasury), plus those interested in using the information (Ministry of Justice for the Directory of Official Information) to keep the group involved and informed.
How we are keeping diverse communities informed
- Using public channels and public and private Twitter accounts amplify and extend the reach of this work.
- Working with the Treasury and DPMC to release Minister, Ministerial Portfolio and Vote data onto data.govt.nz.
- Running an Open Data Meetup to get public discussion on the reference model, draft open standard and reuse opportunities for the dataset.
Links – Evidence of progress and milestones acheved
- Discussion on draft open standard – http://groups.open.org.nz/groups/ninja-talk/messages/topic/SSFgQHTDO4cHHFX9lFSky/
- Open Data Meetup session “Help build the foundations for #OpenGov” – https://www.meetup.com/Open-Data-NZ/events/263052997/
Improved access to information about the structure of government agencies
The only authoritative list of government organisations is owned by the State Services Commission. There is no open data option for this list, only an html page and PDF, so there are no options for reuse.
It lists the agencies by legal title which means that organisations aren’t discoverable by the sub-agencies or working brands (eg only Department of Internal Affairs – Archives NZ, and National Library can’t be found, Ministry of Social Development, but not Work and Income). It also means that organisations that are known by a trading name (eg Creative NZ, NZ on Air) are only discoverable by their legal title (eg Arts Council, Broadcasting Commission). Other alternative names, such as Māori name, also aren’t listed. This reflects the intent of the data from a government perspective, but limits its usefulness for citizens who want to find out where to get government services, or who want to know which agency is accountable, so needs to trace the government’s structure.
Up-to-date authoritative information
An authoritative list would enable better access to people’s democratic rights – such as finding out which agencies to contact about the Official Information Act. Currently, data on the Directory of Official information is updated periodically and published via PDF. With machinery of government changes and agencies on the move, it doesn’t take much to make this information out of date.
[Impacts that you expect to be visible by the end of the next NAP – that we could refer to in the Self-Assessment at the completion of NAP 4]
Opportunities for improved and innovative service delivery
There is a global shift in governments to the idea of ‘government as a platform’, where governments are responsible for foundational components, such as data, that can then be reused by anyone to create and innovate from. There is great potential for improved service delivery from businesses or NGOs being able to ‘plug-in’ (using APIs) to updated government data. For example, the Citizens Advice Bureau is an intermediary for people who either don’t know where to go or don’t trust government enough to approach them directly. They put time and effort into maintain data about government agencies that could better be spent serving people’s needs and/or improving their services.
Simply work for those people and businesses who rely on legal lists of organisations
Having authoritative government data has multiple benefits for business and civil society/civic tech. It opens up the ability for more innovative government directories, building off the base of existing ones like the New Zealand Government Sector Directory or Neighbourly.