Since submitting our first plan in 2014, we have learnt a lot about the open government context in New Zealand, work that is being taken by government (local and central) and civil society to deliver on open government objectives and principles. Our OGP National Action Plans are just one tool we can use to advance those objectives.
We have progressively improved the quality of our engagement and the scope and ambition of our plans.
Our First Plan
The commitments in our first plan reflected work that was already underway. Our self-assessment showed several areas where improvement could be made for our 2016-18 National Action Plan.
- drafting the next plan collaboratively with New Zealand communities
- expanding our engagement efforts to reach a wider array of stakeholders
- setting up advisory panels to provide external support and advice
- building a collection of commitments that reached beyond existing government programmes.
We formed an external advisory group to provide advice about developing and reporting on New Zealand’s action plans. An initial Stakeholder Advisory Group was set up, and when its term expired in June 2016 a new Expert Advisory Panel was formed to support the delivery of a plan that reflected achievable, practical commitments.
We also established a group of government officials providing advice on their respective areas of expertise, including justice, data and technology.
Our Second Plan
Developing our second National Action Plan involved five steps, involving community engagement over a six-week period.
- sought input into the engagement strategy from stakeholders who had shown an active interest in open government
- raised awareness, sought reflections, identified and prioritised themes
- co-designed an open government vision with stakeholders
- co-created recommendations for the National Action Plan with stakeholders
for consideration by Government.
Community engagement included workshops in Christchurch, Auckland, and Wellington supplemented by teleconferences, webinars, and the opportunity to suggest commitments over social media and online forums.
The Independent Reporting Mechanism's Mid-term Assessment of the plan noted that the process for its development was more open and inclusive than the engagement for the first plan. The commitments were more ambitious in their objectives. One of the commitments - providing for improved access to legislation - was given a ‘star’ rating, meaning it is considered potentially transformational.
Our Third Plan
We recognised the importance of putting the plan into the broader national context, showing how the commitments in the plan fit with longer term objectives, trends and other work that is being undertaken that will meet those objectives.
Before beginning to develop the plan we sought input from civil society stakeholders both directly through face to face interviews and by surveying the subscribers to our website and through social media.
The results were used to develop the process described here.
We gathered nearly 500 ideas and involved almost 200 people in the development of the plan. Importantly we reported back to people on how their idea was either incorporated into the plan or referred to other agencies who for consideration if they fell outside the scope of the plan.
The OGP IRM: New Zealand Design Report 2018-2020 summarised the development and content of the 3rd Plan as follows:
"New Zealand’s third action plan reflects an effort to move beyond access to information commitments and includes other areas such as participation in democracy and public participation to develop policy and services. The co-creation process benefited from wider public engagement and is an improvement from previous years. Local government engagement and public participation are areas of opportunities for future action plans."
The challenges we face in moving forward include:
- Including more of New Zealand’s diverse population in the conversation and making the plan more relevant to their aspirations and issues
- Positioning the commitments in future plans into a longer-term plan for the strengthening New Zealand’s democracy and identifying how a plan can add value to the plethora of work governments undertake to become more, participative, transparent and accountable.