25 June 2013

New Zealand is navigating an independent course to open government.  The Minister of Internal Affairs made no reference to New Zealand playing a part in the Open Government Partnership or committing to the Open Government Declaration last week when announcing the results of the second annual report on adoption by Departments of the New Zealand Open and Transparent Government declaration.

Comparable countries seem to be aligning with the OGP – with Iceland and Australia having both sought admission in the last two months -raising the membership to nearly 60 countries although in the same period Russia has suspended its membership.

New Zealand would be unlikely to face any difficulty in complying with OGP requirements – which emphasise civil society participation in identifying useful data for including in national action plans; the stretch needed in plans to achieve new and different advantages from data publication; and the relevance test determined through an independent review mechanism process. The rationale for Australian membership of the OGP seems to be related to fulfilling a leadership role in the region.

The Minister disclosed progress made over the past year by Departments. The survey suggests that 10 Departments are now compliant with the declaration, with a further 16 planning to be compliant next year.  However the report that high value public data is being released seems to be challenged by remarks posted to the NZ Government On-Line Groups discussion thread. One contributor claims that data posted by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment falls short of the aspiration, despite the Ministry having been highly rated for its compliance with the Open and Transparent Government declaration.

The following Table extracted from the survey shows that the committed adopters are publishing over 400% more relevant data than the cautious agencies like NZDF, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Department of Corrections.Comparison of Departmental Adoption of the Declaration