OGP NATIONAL ACTION PLAN. EXPLAINER.

The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. It currently includes 70 participating governments.

To become a member of OGP, participating countries must endorse a high-level Open Government Declaration, deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation, and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward.

Australia committed to become a member On 17 November 2015, after some stalling under the Abbott government from its first proposal by Mark Dreyfus in 2014.

Core to the Open Government Partnership is the preparation by each member government of a National Action Plan, in consultation with their civil society organisations.

In the words of the OGP;

“The National Action Plan translates the political will demonstrated when a country joins OGP into concrete action. Each National Action Plan contains specific commitments to enhance transparency, accountability, and public participation in government. Commitments are subject to independent review. OGP encourages reformers to use innovations in public policy and new technologies to transform the culture of government and to serve the public better.

OGP’s model is unique. It does not prescribe standards for openness that countries should follow, nor does it specify sectors to target. Its deliberate, context-specific approach is designed to bring government and citizens together to define their own priorities for reform. As a voluntary partnership that emphasizes collaboration, OGP trusts in the power of ideas. Governments are encouraged to experiment with bold reforms that address urgent public policy challenges, learning from and inspiring each other along the way.”

To build a National Action Plan, governments must consult with civil society bodies, and Open Government Partnership Australia has conducted a series of consultations and called for submissions from the public, civil society, and the private sector. From this a Draft National Action Plan has been formulated.

The draft Plan can be accessed/downloaded here:

A fact sheet on consultation and the Plan can be accessed/downloaded here:

The Australian National Action Plan will be finalised in its first iteration, by the end of 2016, with submissions closing 18th November 2016.

The Accountability Round Table has prepared three submissions to the National Action Plan, each of which are to be found as separate posts on this website. These submissions call attention to shortcomings in the draft National Action Plan and suggest a suite of reforms.

SUBMISSION 1. In this submission we draw attention to the role, overlooked in the National Action Plan, of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner in facilitating the right of the people to access information held by government on their behalf. This office has been subjected to attempts to abolish it, has been defunded, and now is only partially funded with no permanent Commissioner appointed.

SUBMISSION 2. In this submission we make recommendations about reform of political donations. This is in response to Commitment 4.1, the commitment to examine the ‘framework of donations to political parties and other political entities’. Accountability Round Table has had a longstanding concern with the need to address the problems associated with political funding. It was included as a matter for investigation in our initial submission to the OGP Interim Working Group. ART has also made submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) into the 2016 election campaign on the federal political funding framework. (Colleen Lewis on the key changes needed to Political Funding) (Ken Coghill on Political Funding and Party Rules), (Ken Coghill on Limitations to Political Financing)

SUBMISSION 3. On Freedom of Information. Will be forthcoming shortly.

As the lead Chair from October 2016, France is hosting an OGP Global Summit in Paris, from Wednesday, December 7, to Friday, December 9, 2016. We will keep you up to date on this as some of your ART members are attending.