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

Pia Waugh pia.waugh at gmail.com
Thu Mar 31 20:53:34 UTC 2016

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

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.



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

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

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
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
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
   - UK action plan on women, peace & security

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

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

Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)
 NoFibs.com.au <http://nofibs.com.au> - Open Data Reporter | OpenAus
<https://openaus.net.au> - Founder and Developer

okfn-au mailing list
okfn-au at lists.okfn.org
Unsubscribe: https://lists.okfn.org/mailman/options/okfn-au
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-au/attachments/20160401/f6e706b9/attachment-0004.html>

More information about the okfn-au mailing list