For the OGP engine to run smoothly and efficiently, genuine government commitment is critical. OGP
The international OGP, established in 2011, has 69 participating nations whose governments undertake to develop a partnership of government and the people to:
- increase the availability of information about government activities
- support civic participation
- implement the highest standards of professional integrity throughout government administration
- improve openness and accountability using new technology
Member nation partnerships are to develop ambitious action plans every two years with 5-15 recommendations, addressing at least one of five OGP Grand Challenges, and to self-assess their performance. The OGP assists civil society and provides an independent reporting mechanism that assesses progress.
To date, Australia’s efforts fall well short of its obligations under the OGP.
The Commonwealth Government joined the OGP in May 2013 but took no public action for two and a half years and placed Australia in breach of its OGP commitments by:
- unsuccessfully attempting to abolish the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, subsequently pursued in the Budget
- refusing FOI requests for departmental briefings to the incoming government where previously they had been provided
It did not attempt to consult with civil society until Nov 2015 when it quietly announced that its 1st NAP would be based on these Grand Challenges:
1 Improving Public Services
3 More Effectively Managing Public Resources
It established a website for communications with civil society and called for submissions for the 1st NAP commitments. In December, civil society established the Civil Society Network.
The Government released Consultation Stage 1 plan in March. In early April, it published a draft NAP on the AOGP website, largely ignoring submissions. It held a workshop in Canberra on 11 April inviting civil society to submit specific commitments for inclusion in the NAP. The Government has communicated with civil society but not yet consulted. A ‘co-creation partnership‘ is yet to be realised.
An agreed structure and process is needed to establish an effective partnership between government and civil society before work to complete the NAP resumes. The UK Open Government Forum and Mexico’s tripartite decision-making body are useful examples of how this can be done.
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