9 April 2014

State Services Commission has published the timelines for developing the action plan required of New Zealand as one of the prospects in the fourth, and most recent, cohort committing to the Open Government Partnership.

Member states are required to implement challenging action plans that will give effect to the OGP’s transparency and accountability objectives. The fourth cohort countries will formally join the OGP later this month once they have demonstrated their willingness to promote open government through the specifics of their action plans.

New Zealand will obviously not have a finalised action plan within the expected timeframe. By comparison, Ireland which is in the cohort with New Zealand, has been working with civil society for at least nine months, refining its proposals. The obverse is the case with Australia, also in the cohort, but whose intentions are even less clear. Perhaps as the invitations to join the OGP – to New Zealand by the British Prime Minister, and to Australia by President Obama – didn’t afford sufficient time, latitude has been permitted in complying with the OGP governance requirements. (Those requirements, republished last week after a review, include the specification that aspirant members have “concrete” action plans.)

New Zealand and Australia may have something to present to the Asia Pacific Regional Meeting taking place at Bali in early May. However the first meeting with civil society – Transparency New Zealand has taken the lead in seeking to contribute – is not until next week. The SSC timeline also indicates that it will be 31 July before the action plan is published. Mongolia, another fourth cohort country in the region, does not appear to be any more compliant. The Mongolia page on the OGP website is as devoid of content as those of New Zealand and Australia.

The SSC announcement will raise the ire of the privacy blogger at “Open and Shut”, who is continually critical of the lack of action regarding the OGP across the Tasman. New Zealand may have stolen a march on Australia.