[@OKau] Will the Open Government National Action Plan transform anything?

Mark Street mrstreet at gmail.com
Tue Apr 5 02:30:13 UTC 2016

Hi Rosie,  All

As a slightly meta comment,  I believe that Pia's response was directed
towards how you asked the question,  not what was asked.

As someone who has been involved in politics like yourself,  you would know
that,  often,  How you frame the question, and how you deliver it to an
audience can dramatically affect the answer you receive.  I think Pia's
response is one of someone who has fought though many negatively framed
questions for many years, and what she is asking of the community is that
you keep a "positive" or more correctly a "good faith" position coming in
to any debate or event involving government stakeholders or the public

Personally I also would question how discussing a process with a critical
eye will hurt the process itself, but what one needs to be mindful of is
the Tone and Meta speech that gives off signals regardless of what question
you ask. Especially if there are people looking for  excuses to do nothing

Also just because one doesn't understand a process, or that it hasn't been
fully communicated, or even asked to participate, It does not follow that
the organisers have done a poor job, or neglected to think of these things,
or that they are acting in bad faith... You might have to ask more
questions and find out yourself. I find that text and email based questions
always feel more formal and interrogatory,  where as a short phone call can
allow a better understanding and good faith questioning.

You might find that with a good faith position you may have a benefactor or
two on this list who are willing to help you with your travel expenses, but
if you start with "will it be a waste of time if..." then that may become a
self fulfilling prophecy.


Sent from my OnePlus 1
On 5 Apr 2016 8:11 am, "Rosie Williams" <BudgetAus at hotmail.com> wrote:

> I'm not too sure what I'm supposed to be defending here. I'm not sure what
> I or anyone else is supposed to have said that can put the process at risk.
> What I do know is that people have a right to make reasonable comment
> particularly when asked to do so and should not be publicly intimidated or
> denigrated for doing exactly that. I've only been involved with open data
> for 3 years but I've been part of the political process all my life and
> feel I have a wealth of experience to draw on in making the decisions I do
> in how I conduct my dealings with the Australian government and also in
> informing the opinions I publicly advocate. You can read about some of my
> earliest experiences at
> https://openaus.net.au/blog/2016/01/30/is-activism-a-dirty-word/
> I've been an activist since I was literally a kid so I've been giving
> feedback publicly (through media) and privately to politicians basically
> my entire life. I'm yet to blog about this to my current audience but over
> the 25 years I have been a mother, I have changed policy/practice in areas
> as diverse as requiring non-custodian fathers to pay a minimum amount of
> child support to changing DSS policy & guidelines to include reference to
> homeschoolers ( a practice that is legal in every jurisdiction incidentally
> & often a response to inadequately inclusive education system).
> I think I have a pretty balanced view of the policy process and often feel
> irritated that so many of the middle class people I meet do nothing but
> complain and accuse the government that has clearly served their own lives
> very well while I continue to struggle along on $250 a week year after year
> trying to keep a roof over my head and food in my mouth. My own personal
> experience is that it is often the government that not only listens and
> acts on my concerns but it is left to the government to house and feed me
> because society doesn't consider my skills or experience have any value.
> I am struggling to decide whether to spend what is going to cost me to
> travel to Canberra for this event because it will come out of my own pocket
> and there is so little broad engagement with the process among the
> advocates who are meant to be representing people like me- advocates who
> would not have to pay to attend as I must. I feel a lot of responsibility
> on me because I know other attendees don't have the experience with open
> data to provide the feedback that I have and also because I am aware that
> I'd probably be the only non-middle class person there- something that I
> personally consider quite important in a process that is supposed to be
> about making government work better for all of us.
> It is one thing to talk about strengthening democracy and another thing to
> actually change the lives of the people who need a more socially just,
> inclusive society- particularly if none of us can afford to attend or our
> is input is ignored because our poverty is considered to define the value
> of our expertise . Right now I'm just trying to convince myself it is a
> justifiable expense.
> I do not resile from anything I have said to date about the OGP- nor do I
> think anyone else should- even the commentators I might disagree with. If a
> bit of fair comment is all it takes to destroy the NAP then it never had
> much of a chance. I think blaming the public for this is unworthy of
> further response from me.
> Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)
> ________________________________________
>  NoFibs.com.au <http://nofibs.com.au> - Open Data Reporter | OpenAus
> <https://openaus.net.au> - Founder and Developer
> ------------------------------
> *From:* okfn-au <okfn-au-bounces at lists.okfn.org> on behalf of Pia Waugh <
> pia.waugh at gmail.com>
> *Sent:* Monday, 4 April 2016 11:16 AM
> *To:* Unname
> *Subject:* Re: [@OKau] Will the Open Government National Action Plan
> transform anything?
> Thanks Craig, I think you captured my personal thoughts on this perfectly.
> Cheers,
> Pia
> On 1 Apr 2016 11:58, "Craig Thomler" <craig.thomler at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi guys,
>> I have appreciated throughout this first OGPAU process that many people
>> would 'hold fire' as it was new to them and they may not be sure how the
>> process will roll out, plus there's many existing consultation and
>> engagement processes that people are involved with that might be more
>> specific to the outcomes they are hoping for.
>> This is a journey, and I expect to see increasingly levels of
>> participation throughout each successive OGP cycle - exactly the experience
>> of other jurisdictions.
>> I think there's a bit of truth both in Rosie and Pia's position.
>> Pia has lived and breathed this stuff for years and is totally committed
>> to the positive outcomes that open government advocates are hoping for - as
>> are the current team in PM&C.
>> As such she's aware of how easily bruised the process can be by comments
>> that outsiders might see as innoculous - and she has fielded every skerrick
>> of negativity personally, which can shade someone's perspective, in order
>> to protect the process and ensure it has every chance of positive outcomes.
>> I don't think she's leaping at shadows, but I do feel that as she's
>> sensitised to the material she occassionally goes hard on perceived
>> negativity. However given the alternative (a disinterested bunch of
>> bureaucrats who don't understand or connect to the engaged community) I
>> prefer to see her a little overprotective of the process than unengaged.
>> Remember that Pia, and the team in PM&C are like the pig in a meal of
>> bacon and eggs - committed and responsible for the outcome. They'll get the
>> brunt of negativity if people feel it has failed - and hopefully much of
>> the credit for a successful outcome.
>> Rosie, as have myself and others who are 'involved but not committed'
>> (like the chicken in bacon & eggs...), are reflecting on how the process
>> could be improved or deliver better outcomes and also hope and wish to
>> influence it to ensure success.
>> However there is a potential blindness in this - we don't have to juggle
>> the expectations within government, the cabinet processes, the competing
>> views and priorities. We're free to speculate and comment and critique,
>> with no direct consequences to our opinions. We can have Unicorns and
>> ribbons, the team in PM&C gets politicians and red tape.
>> So let's trust a little and give the process the time to roll through a
>> full cycle before critiquing it too much.
>> Yes it won't be perfect, but nothing is.
>> Yes with 70 proposed commitments, each has only a 1 in 70 (that's 1.4%)
>> of being selected - but some commitments may be combined with others,
>> implemented outside the OGP process, or rolled into future years (or not
>> attempted at all - but maybe they weren't practical or appropriate for this
>> process, there's other doors and approaches they might suit).
>> I appreciate the work done on this by Pia, and by the current team -
>> Toby, Tim and others including Amelia, who has run herself ragged.
>> Right now let's give them our support - all the positive eggs we chickens
>> can muster (including some chocolate ones, given the season) - to bias the
>> OGP process towards a positive outcome and trust that the pigs won't steal
>> our eggs.
>> Then, if there's concerns down the track, let's deal with them then, in
>> the next cycle.
>> Cheers,
>> Craig
>> PS: I mean no offense by referring to groups as pigs and chickens, it's
>> to illustrate a point. I like bacon and eggs. I also like chickens and pigs.
>> PPS: If you don't get the stealing eggs reference, look up Angry Birds.
>> PPPS: Yes I did think of creating an OGP Angry Birds edition - knock down
>> the house of parliament to win back your eggs - Again, leave it for next
>> cycle :)
>> _________________________________________________
>> Craig Thomler
>> http://egovau.blogspot.com
>> http://twitter.com/CraigThomler
>> http://au.linkedin.com/in/craigthomler
>> http://www.slideshare.net/CraigThomler
>> <http://www.slideshare.net/CraigThomler%20>
>> *Mobile:* 0411 780 194 (*International:* +61 411 780 194)
>> *Phone:* 02 6161 4508 (*International: *+61 2 6161 4508)
>> *Skype:* craig.thomler
>> On 1 April 2016 at 09:10, Pia Waugh <pia.waugh at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hi Rosie,
>>> I didn't say airing concerns was a problem. I said a constant barrage of
>>> negativity is a problem. I appreciate your comments and although it is good
>>> to see you don't assuming something like the timing to be nefarious, you
>>> can understand that the comment you made in your earlier post about the
>>> timing sets a negative tone.  A few people assume the worst from the
>>> process, the government and any of the people involved and this translates
>>> to a lot of energy on the part of all involved being used to constantly
>>> address mistrust. I have for instance addressed the grand challenges
>>> question on no less than 10 occassions, on several different fora, yet it
>>> still persists. I guess I'm trying to suggest that once an issue is aired
>>> and dealt with, can we put most of our colelctive efforts into making this
>>> good, rather than tearing it down.
>>> I have to run, I have a 9 week old that needs my attention. I will try
>>> contribute some more thoughts later.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Pia
>>> On Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 8:54 AM, Rosie Williams <BudgetAus at hotmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> Dear Pia
>>>> Out of curiosity, how do you see people airing their concerns about
>>>> decisions made by the government regarding the NAP as having the potential
>>>> to undermine the NAP? You state that you are concerned people airing
>>>> concerns will cause an 'unsatisfactory outcome'. It would be helpful to
>>>> understand why you believe public commentary is a problem? Are you
>>>> suggesting that there will be political backlash against the NAP from the
>>>> bureaucracy or politicians because people have aired concerns about the
>>>> quality, scope and the focus of the NAP or do you mean that if we change
>>>> our expectations to be more in line with what the government is happy to
>>>> deliver then we will be more satisfied with the outcome?
>>>> I agree that presuming bad will on behalf of the government can be
>>>> quite tiresome and that the way to build trust between the bureaucracy and
>>>> the government is to be fully open about the reasons for things. I am yet
>>>> to read a comment on the OGP wiki made by the public that does not appear
>>>> to have been made with the best of intentions so perhaps the presumption of
>>>> negativity runs both ways. But perhaps a lot of comments have been added
>>>> since last night of a different nature?
>>>> Personally I have never considered that the timing of the consultation
>>>> period is a deliberate attempt to undermine the process but by the same
>>>> token it is not the public who decided on the funds to be devoted (or not)
>>>> to the process or whether or not there would be a decent media campaign to
>>>> educate the public about the consultation or for that matter which Grand
>>>> Challenges would be the focus. Having said that I reiterate my question to
>>>> you about why you feel so strongly that people simply airing their
>>>> opinions 'will guarantee an unsatisfactory outcome'?
>>>> thankyou
>>>> Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)
>>>> ________________________________________
>>>>  NoFibs.com.au <http://nofibs.com.au> - Open Data Reporter | OpenAus
>>>> <https://openaus.net.au> - Founder and Developer
>>>> ------------------------------
>>>> *From:* okfn-au <okfn-au-bounces at lists.okfn.org> on behalf of Pia
>>>> Waugh <pia.waugh at gmail.com>
>>>> *Sent:* Friday, 1 April 2016 7:53 AM
>>>> *To:* Unname; ogp at pmc.gov.au
>>>> *Subject:* Re: [@OKau] Will the Open Government National Action Plan
>>>> transform anything?
>>>> Hi all,
>>>> Can I suggest the first ever Australian NAP is still in development and
>>>> perhaps it would be more useful to not assume the worst in the first
>>>> instance, because that will guarantee an unsatisfactory outcome. The OGP
>>>> team at PM&C are working so hard to try make this happen, to engage with
>>>> the public, to engage with agencies and get the best outcome possible (i am
>>>> on maternity leave, and I do not envy their task) and although there have
>>>> been a lot of good ideas and energy contributed, there is still this snarky
>>>> undertone which undermines it at every turn, by a number of people who care
>>>> about this a lot and I would have thought have the most reason to want it
>>>> to succeed.
>>>> I'm going to address just one of the points raised which has come up
>>>> several times in public fora as just negativity for no reason, a
>>>> distraction from making the NAP. The consultation kicked off in November,
>>>> which was the soonest possible to kick off a consultation after a decision
>>>> was made, and it kicked off a 7-8 month consultation process to align with
>>>> the OGP annual NAP and IRM timing (july each year). It could have been
>>>> launched in January thus shortening the consultation process, or it could
>>>> have been an 18 month consultation to get a NAP by mid 2017. The timing was
>>>> chosen with the best interests of the community in mind and this is just
>>>> one example where nefariousness is assumed and it just sucks oxygen from
>>>> what could be a really positive collaboration between community and
>>>> government.
>>>> I will leave it there. I made a personal submission to OGP on my blog (
>>>> http://pipka.org), because I care about this succeeding and I wish all
>>>> the team at PM&C all the luck and good will in the world to continue the
>>>> good work and get a good outcome. I hope you will all join me in trying to
>>>> make this work. I've ccd that team so Rosie's concerns are flagged with
>>>> them.
>>>> Cheers,
>>>> Pia
>>>> https://openaus.net.au/blog/2016/03/16/will-the-open-government-national-action-plan-transform-anything/
>>>> I got some very useful feedback from an advocate within the social
>>>> services sector yesterday which put me out of my misery in terms of
>>>> understanding why it might be that the health and social services sector
>>>> are less than enthusiastic about engaging with theOpen Government
>>>> Partnership National Action Plan <http://ogpau.govspace.gov.au/>.
>>>> The advocate pointed out that she was already involved in more than one
>>>> consultation and I think it is safe to assume these consultations are ones
>>>> she is both familiar with and has her head across. Contrast this with the
>>>> mystery of Australia’s first National Action Plan, announced during the
>>>> Christmas holiday period late last year, with an interface and resources
>>>> which are in no way intuitive and which takes quite some ‘getting across’ even
>>>> for those of us who knew it was coming
>>>> <https://www.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/2016/02/23/how-to-make-an-ogp-national-action-plan-commitment/>
>>>> !
>>>> Gaining this new perspective on what participation in the NAP may look
>>>> like to professional advocates prompted me to question why it was that I
>>>> thought it was worth participating in. Why did I think the NAP was more
>>>> powerful than existing consultations? Given there are many existing
>>>> consultation mechanisms why does the NAP process exist at all? If I or
>>>> someone else makes the effort to understand this new fangled process andsuggests
>>>> a Commitment <http://ogpau.wikispaces.com/Commitments> or contributes
>>>> to a goal, what certainty is there that this will make it into the National
>>>> Action Plan: a 30% chance… a 50% chance… a 90% chance? Further to that, is
>>>> there evidence from National Action Plans in other countries to confirm the
>>>> transformative power of the Open Government Partnership?
>>>> It is questions such as these that impact the decisions people make
>>>> about whether to invest time in a consultation. The existing resources do
>>>> not shed much light on the kinds of details that allow one to evaluate how
>>>> likely any input is to end up as policy. For example who is it that ends up
>>>> making the decisions about what is in or out, what is funded or not? Do the
>>>> agencies themselves decide if they are in or out of the NAP or if they
>>>> *are* part of the NAP that they will agree to implement a Commitment?
>>>> What role does government funding and the budget play in all this?
>>>> The formal response I got from the OGP last night to my recent request
>>>> to include the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare in the NAP process
>>>> did not clarify whether or not it is up to the agencies to decide for
>>>> themselves if they are in or out, hence my tweet to the official hashtag
>>>> #OGPAu to clarify:
>>>> "Another question for the OGP FAQ: is it up to agencies alone to decide
>>>> if they agree to implement publicly sourced Commitments? #ogpau
>>>> <https://twitter.com/hashtag/ogpau?src=hash>"
>>>> The AIHW is in my mind a very significant agency in terms of data that
>>>> relates to policy and funding decisions crucial to many vulnerable groups
>>>> in Australia. This is borne out in their role collecting the National
>>>> Minimum Data Sets, a requirement of the National Partnership Agreements
>>>> with the states, agreements which underpin the flow of funds from the
>>>> Commonwealth to the states. This observation of mine is stated in the
>>>> government’s own Gov 2.0 Taskforce Report
>>>> <http://www.finance.gov.au/sites/default/files/Government20TaskforceReport.pdf?v=1> on
>>>> page xiii
>>>> In this report we use many examples of information which is generated
>>>> principally by state or local government agencies. While our direct mandate
>>>> is from the Australian Government, we have interpreted that mandate
>>>> broadly. While our recommendations are, strictly speaking, recommendations
>>>> to the Australian Government, many of the principles developed apply at the
>>>> state level and all states are exploring the Government 2.0 agenda, though
>>>> some are further advanced on the journey than others. We feel the use of
>>>> such examples is useful both because the *states control much of the
>>>> data that affects people’s lives most closely and because data collected by
>>>> state agencies can and should often be the subject of national information
>>>> agendas (as in the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) agendas in
>>>> education and health)*.
>>>> The absence of the AIHW from the NAP
>>>> <http://ogpau.govspace.gov.au/idc-24th-february/> takes some
>>>> explaining yet it was yours truly who was asked to explain to the OGP why
>>>> they should ask the AIHW to come on board, an interesting reversal of logic
>>>> and accountability. Given the statement in the OGP FAQ that states and
>>>> territories are ‘not bound by this agreement
>>>> <http://ogpau.govspace.gov.au/national-action-plan/faqs/#How_can_state_and_local_governments_participate_in_the_planning_process_and_will_they_be_bound_by_the_Federal_OGP_National_Action_Plan>‘
>>>> and the importance of the states to delivery of the programs encompassed in
>>>> the Grand Challenges ‘Improving public services’ and ‘More effectively
>>>> managing public resources’ –it would seem even more important that
>>>> Commonwealth agencies that collect data on behalf of national interests are
>>>> included in the NAP.
>>>> Being late to the OGP party, Australia is not exactly blazing a trail
>>>> in open government. This has the benefit of Australians being able to learn
>>>> from what other countries have accomplished through their National Action
>>>> Plans. Has UK democracy or policy been transformed by their NAPs
>>>> <http://www.opengovpartnership.org/country/united-kingdom/action-plan>?
>>>> Has America’s NAPs created much change for US citizens? Are the poor and
>>>> vulnerable better off? Is government more accountable and responsive to
>>>> needs? Are policy decisions better informed?
>>>> I’ve added some resources from countries further along in their open
>>>> government journey that might help inform these questions and allow readers
>>>> to better decide the potential impact of our own National Action Plan for
>>>> Open Government.
>>>> Given that my input <http://ogpau.wikispaces.com/Commitments> into the
>>>> NAP is based on my years of (uncompensated) work with open data as it
>>>> relates to financial and political transparency and is based on the input I
>>>> have received from my own consultations with health and social services
>>>> advocates, I see no reason on the face of it why the government would
>>>> exclude it from the National Action Plan other than as a result of a
>>>> deliberate desire to go against the ideals of open government. I also
>>>> observe however, that the less people and the fewer organisations that take
>>>> a public interest in the drafting of the NAP, the easier it will be for
>>>> such travesties to come to pass, resulting in a National Action Plan for
>>>> Open Government that becomes what so many are afraid it might be: just
>>>> another talk fest and business as usual.
>>>>    - UK first to launch action plan on business & human rights
>>>>    <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-first-to-launch-action-plan-on-business-and-human-rights>
>>>>    - UK action plan on women, peace & security
>>>>    <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/319870/FCO643_NAP_Printing_final3.pdf>
>>>>     (2014-2017)
>>>> One year ago at the UN General Assembly I stated a simple truth, that
>>>> the strongest foundation for human progress lies in open economies, open
>>>> societies and in open governance and I challenged our countries to come
>>>> back this year with specific Commitments to promote transparency, to fight
>>>> corruption, to energise civic engagement and to leverage new technologies
>>>> so we can strengthen the foundation of freedom in our own countries. Barack
>>>> Obama
>>>> We wanted to make sure the NAP would not end up as just another
>>>> document which may be good to read or display on the bookshelf. Especially
>>>> we didn’t want it to end up just another wishlist… it should make a
>>>> difference.
>>>> I’m also very delighted to see that Great Britain has also mobilised
>>>> the others to see the issue of sexual violence is critical to development.
>>>> As a woman who has been working with women in conflict for the last 20
>>>> years, I say kudos!
>>>> Find the associated videos at
>>>> https://openaus.net.au/blog/2016/03/16/will-the-open-government-national-action-plan-transform-anything/
>>>> Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)
>>>> ________________________________________
>>>>  NoFibs.com.au <http://nofibs.com.au> - Open Data Reporter | OpenAus
>>>> <https://openaus.net.au> - Founder and Developer
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