Meeting: Open Government Partnership EAP meeting
Date: 9 May 2023
Time: 2.30- 4.30
Te Kawa Mataaho OGP team (TKM): Dean Rosson (manager), Christine Lloyd, Cathy Adank, Tula Garry (left 3pm)
EAP members: Suzanne Snively, Simon Wright, Farib Sos and Sarah Colcord (online).
Apologies: Sean Audain, Rachel Roberts.
Topics for discussion
- Update on NAP4 commitments following lead agency meeting.
- General updates – IRM report, MSF research and CSO workshop.
- Discussion of MSF strawman continues.
Updates on NAP4 Commitments
On 2 May TKM and other agencies who lead commitments met to update on the status of commitments. This was in preparation for the mid-year public report-back
- Commitment 1 – Adopt a community engagement tool.
- The tool itself has been developed, however the Commissioner’s model standard is still to be finalised. Engagement will need to occur about what constitutes a “significant” initiative and what the reporting requirements for the tool will be. If the threshold is not set at the right level, it risks becoming a compliance exercise.
- TKM and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) met with the Kāpuia Group about the use of the tool by agencies working on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain (RCOI) and plans for the tool moving forward.
- EAP said the tool cannot be a tick box exercise. EAP was aware that some community groups still find engagement with government very difficult.
- Agencies’ “communities of practice” for engagement could include a much broader cohort from civil society and public. In the past there have been vibrant communities of practice for engagement, but these have fallen away.
- Commitment 2 – Research deliberative processes
- Work to date has been about research to understand what deliberative processes involve and the landscape in NZ and overseas. Conversations with Tim Hughes from OGP (ex-Involve), who is an expert in this area, were helpful at setting out the UK context.
- It was noted that the UK is ahead of NZ in relation to deliberative processes. There are NGOs and businesses set up to run deliberative processes for and with government.
- The advantages of deliberative processes over traditional engagement include ensuring a more representative public voice comes through.
- Case studies are useful but are not likely to result in transformative change. People can access case studies now (for example, through OECD website). The question was raised as to what else can we do to advance the use of deliberative processes.
- Commitment 3 – Establish a multi-channel approach to delivery of government information and services
- DIA cannot issue mandatory standards or direct how agencies deliver services. This is up to agency Chief Executives to decide.
- EAP noted there needs to be a motivated lead agency for this work. If there is no responsible lead with the time to do this work, it will not succeed. This commitment has transformative potential, but it needs political leadership.
- Options to consider included POLIS, the online survey tool, that visually presents different opinion groupings to show areas of difference and consensus. Different framing of questions can illicit different responses and highlight areas of consensus between groups. POLIS could be useful if paired with a citizen’s assembly or deliberative process.
- Commitment 4 – Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy
- The strategy comprised two parts, the first involving strengthening the capability of public sector to counter fraud and improve the government’s response and the experience of victims of fraud. The second phase of the work will involve the private sector and collaborating and co-designing a National Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy. This work is likely to start towards the end of 2024.
- EAP noted the importance of private sector leadership in relation to fraud and corruption, noting that private businesses can take the approach of settling disputes out of court to avoid the development of case law.
- Commitment 5 – Increase transparency of beneficial ownership of companies and limited partnerships.
- This commitment depends on the timing of legislation, which is outside MBIE’s control. MBIE are working with PCO on an exposure draft of the Bill, but legislation may not be introduced until 2024 due to the election and Ministers prioritising House time for other legislation. This could push back the timing of the commitment.
- EAP noted that the election may result in a new Minister and the importance of passing this legislation could be highlighted. Lack of transparency around beneficial ownership contributes to the housing crisis.
- Commitment 6 – Increase government procurement transparency.
- New Zealand Government Procurement (NZGP) within MBIE has a number of workstreams underway to improve procurement data, including developing a dashboard of comparative tender information using GETS information. EAP noted that it was important to ensure that procurement data is being captured even when procurement does not go through GETS (e.g. because it does not meet the monetary threshold).
- NZGP is engaging with agencies and business groups on this work.
- Commitment 7 – strengthen scrutiny of OIA exemption clauses in legislation.
- Work involves looking at what tools and frameworks are already in place to scrutinise possible OIA exemption clauses (e.g. requirements from the Legislation Design and Advisory Committee) and identifying potential areas for strengthening.
- MoJ plan to engage with PCO, TKM, Cabinet Office and others on this work and will be reporting back with a firmer plan for the work by the June update. MoJ intend to engage civil society once they have a clearer idea of the timing for this work.
- EAP noted that it is better for agencies to engage civil society earlier, even if there is not a well-developed or finalised plan for work at this stage.
- Commitment 8 - transparency and accountability of algorithm use across government.
- In March 2023, Stats established a community of practice for signatories of the Charter to share knowledge and best practice. The first meeting of this group will be in June. Meetings will be quarterly.
- The community of practice is for signatories of the charter (government agencies) but other groups, including civil society groups, may be invited to specific sessions.
- Stats intend to take a phased approach recommendations from the Algorithm Charter One Year Review and will design an implementation plan for the high priority recommendations.
- A lot has changed even in the short time since the commitment was agreed. For example, ChatGPT and other AI has become much more commonplace.
General updates – IRM, MSF research and CSO workshop
- The draft Action Plan Review is likely to be provided to TKM in mid-May for comment. Some CSOs will also have the opportunity to comment on it.
- The MSF survey has gone out to 20 countries with a two-week window for responses. Responses have been positive so far and other countries are interested in the results.
- On 1 May, a workshop was held with CSOs to discuss their views on the last Action Plan process and how things could be done differently in the future. Six CSO groups were represented at this workshop, including key groups from the last Plan development process.
- CSOs were described as both really engaged and really frustrated. Much of the feedback related to issues we are aware of and concerns CSOs have raised in the past. A key piece of feedback was that if there is not genuine political support for the OGP process there is no point CSOs being involved and that their resources would be better spent elsewhere.
- EAP noted that, for OGP to be successful, there should be a dedicated secretariat with more staff and a budget attached.
- Deliberative processes like a “mini public” were discussed as one possible way of running the OGP process and developing commitments. This could involve a continuous MSF sitting “overtop” of the process, or the mini public itself could be the MSF. It would support broad and diverse representation and prevent capture by minority interests. Convening a “mini public” would require a budget to action.
Discussion of MSF strawman continues.