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Australia Design Report 2018-2020

Australia’s second OGP action plan builds on themes and policy areas from the first action plan. The eight commitments include efforts to improve access to information and civic participation, and also increase opportunities for state and territory governments to participate in open government reforms through the OGP process. While government and civil society stakeholders engaged in a collaborative co-creation process in the development of the action plan, there remains opportunity to expand engagement with stakeholders across a broader range of interests.

Table 1: At a Glance

Participating since 2015

Action plan under review: 2018–2020

Report type: Design

Number of commitments: 8

Action plan development

Is there a multi-stakeholder forum: Yes

Level of public influence: Collaborate

Acted contrary to OGP process: No

Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values: 7 (88%)

Transformative commitments: 0 (0%)

Potentially starred: 0 (0%)

 

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Australia joined OGP in 2015. Since, Australia has implemented one action plan. This report evaluates the design of Australia’s second action plan.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) is responsible for coordinating OGP activities. A multi-stakeholder forum comprising government and nongovernment stakeholders guide the action plan development, implementation, and monitoring.

The process to develop Australia’s second OGP action plan commenced in the middle of the first action plan’s implementation period, in July 2017. The forum initially received 58 ideas and proposals to be considered for inclusion in the action plan. These ideas were then shortlisted to 14, before eventually being narrowed to the final eight commitments. These eight commitments cover a range of thematic areas: anti-corruption, political financing, open data, public service delivery, information transparency, public engagement, and open contracting.

Stemming from a co-creation process to vet proposals, a number of potential open government reforms were not included in this action plan. Themes such as beneficial ownership and whistleblower protection, were not included, despite previous IRM recommendations to consider further consultation in these areas.

Overall, the IRM’s assessment of commitments in Australia’s second action plan suggests a targeted focus on key policy areas, but a lack of commitment specificity limits opportunities to identify their relevance to OGP values or their potential impact on changing government processes.

Table 2: Noteworthy Commitments

Commitment Description Moving Forward Status at the End of Implementation Cycle
3. Improve the sharing, use and reuse of public data.

 

Continue the implementation of data governance reforms to increase access and use of data in consultation with citizens, including businesses, civil society groups, research and non-profit sectors.

Develop a framework to evaluate information disclosure by the government, including compliance in line with legislative requirements and guidelines from the National Data Commissioner. Engage state and territory governments in future action plans on information transparency. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the implementation cycle.
6. Enhance public engagement skills in the public service.

 

Develop an Open Dialogue Roadmap to assist public servants in designing and implementing open and deliberative engagement processes followed by the establishment of the APS Engagement Hub.

Include the APS Engagement Hub in facilitating the Open Government Forum and develop a method for evaluating the impact of the commitment’s implementation in changing government practice. Explore opportunities to replicate the model at other levels of government. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the implementation cycle.

Recommendations

Table 3: Five Key IRM Recommendations

Build on previous and existing commitments, including enhancing information transparency and strengthening the federal anti-corruption framework.
Develop a whole-of-government approach in monitoring and evaluating commitment implementation.
Enhance the relevance of commitments to core OGP values and facilitate stronger adherence to these values throughout related processes.
Establish a collaborative forum to safeguard the quality and raise the ambition of commitments.
Expand the thematic coverage of future action plans by including commitments on new policy areas.

 

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