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Australia Transitional Results Report 2018-2020

The Open Government Partnership 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. Action plan commitments may build on existing efforts, identify new steps to complete ongoing reforms, or initiate an entirely new area. OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Civil society and government leaders use the evaluations to reflect on their progress and determine if efforts have impacted people’s lives.

The IRM has partnered with Keitha Booth, Independent Researcher, to carry out this evaluation. The IRM aims to inform ongoing dialogue around the development and implementation of future commitments. For a full description of the IRM’s methodology, please visit

This report covers the implementation of Australia’s 2nd action plan for 2018–2020. In 2021, the IRM is implementing a new approach to its research process and the scope of its reporting on action plans, approved by the IRM Refresh.[1] The IRM has adjusted its implementation reports for 2018–2020 action plans to fit the transition process to the new IRM products and enable the IRM to adjust its workflow in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on OGP country processes.

Action Plan Implementation

The IRM transitional results report assesses the status of the action plan’s commitments and the results from their implementation at the end of the action plan cycle. This report does not revisit the assessments for “verifiability,” “relevance” or “potential impact.” The IRM assesses those three indicators in IRM design reports. For more details on each indicator, please see Annex I in this report.

General Highlights and Results

Australia’s second action plan (2018–2020), set out eight commitments covering combating corruption among public officials, electoral funding, public sector data use and sharing, procurement, enhancing public engagement, and taking OGP initiatives beyond the federal government. Six initiatives are continued from the first action plan (2016–2018). The plan also foresaw completion of other incomplete commitments from the first plan.[2] These commitments, such as the ones on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and on beneficial ownership transparency, were to be continued, with updates given to the Open Government Forum (OGF, Australia’s multistakeholder forum) and the public until completion. However, the government did not make progress on these commitments. According to Australian civil society, the government lacked interest in continuing these policy areas.[3]

By the end of the action plan cycle, five commitments are complete or substantially complete and three are incomplete. The level of fully or substantially complete commitments fell from 75% in the first action plan to the current 62.5%. Incomplete commitments were either affected by COVID-19 or subsumed by non-OGP work, including changes in the government approach.[4] According to the Interim Civil Society Co-Chair to the OGF, the responsible Minister and later the Assistant Minister did not respond to any invitations to meet the OGF, which negatively impacted both the ambition of the action plan and its implementation.

The commitments on access to information (Commitments 3 and 5) made good progress: guidance and standards were released, and draft legislation is expected to become law in mid-2021. There is now cross-jurisdictional appreciation of the importance that citizens, the public, and industry have for accessing information. The Australia Public Service’s (APS) public engagement framework (Commitments 6 and 7) was recognised by the APS review and endorsed publicly by the federal government in its response to the review. The government met the goal of positioning Australia as a leader in developing an Open Dialogue Roadmap as part of OGP’s International Deliberative Process Practice Group, as Australia co-chaired this practice group with Canada.[5] Commitment 8 (expanding open contracting) resulted in publication of ten years of procurement data in machine readable format, while new tenders are also published in accordance with the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). However, at the end of the action plan period, the open contracting due diligence report was not published.

Commitments on strengthening the national anticorruption framework and enhancing transparency of political donations made little or slow progress over this period. Work to improve public service practices using place-based approaches was affected by COVID-19 and has not progressed.

The stage is set to continue work on cross-jurisdictional data sharing, access to information, and improving federal public engagement. Active resolution of civil society concerns about the outstanding commitments still requires attention.

Greater focus by the OGF on commitment implementation is recommended for the future. While regular second action plan progress reports were received, little time was devoted to discussing implementation. OGF’s key focus was on creating the third action plan.

COVID 19 Pandemic impact on implementation

Quarterly face-to-face meetings of the OGF ceased in June 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Regular meetings were continued remotely, using videoconferencing. An alternative technology, the collaborative workspace, Gov Teams, was tried with mixed success.

The pandemic affected Commitment 6 to improve public service practices using place-based approaches, which was put on hold in April 2020 when staff were redeployed to COVID-related activities. Related work was picked up by the Secretaries Board.[6] While COVID-19 restrictions impacted user research on designing the APS Engagement Hub, the government reported that the delay allowed them to broaden the scope of the public engagement guidance to include pandemic-related social distancing and remote-work lessons, and to seek more user feedback.

KPMG’s public submission on Commitment 3’s exposure draft legislation (Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020 and the Data Availability and Transparency (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020) noted that government-held data was instrumental in developing COVID-19 responses that met the needs of Australians. KPMG particularly noted the government’s ability to provide social security payments and services for millions of Australians online instead of queuing at a Centrelink office.[7]

OGF members commented that the government’s focus since COVID-19 was on creating the third action plan, that discussion about the second plan was “very old news,” and “there was almost agreement that there was nothing more to say about NAP2 at the meetings as they were finished or nothing had happened”.[8]


[1] For more information, see:

[2] Australian Government, Australia’s Second Open Government National Action Plan 2018-20 (OGP, 2018), 7,

[3] May Miller-Dawkins (OGF civil society member), Information provided to the IRM during the pre-publication period of this report, 8 July 2021.

[4] Dr. Ken Coghill (OGF interim Civil Society Co-Chair), Information provided to the IRM during the pre-publication period of this report, 8 July 2021; Open Government Forum, “Item 6: NAP 1 and NAP 2 Commitments – Delayed Commitments updates [Document last updated: 5/08/2020]” (meeting notes from OGF’s meeting 14) (Aug. 2020),

[5] OGP, “OGP Practice Group on Dialogue and Deliberation” (accessed 23 Jul. 2021),

[6] National Indigenous Australians Agency, unpublished commitment’s closing statement (14 May 2021).

[7] KPMG Australia, Data Availability and Transparency Bill, (Nov. 2020), 2,

[8] May Miller-Dawkins, Serena Lillywhite and James Horton (OGF civil society members), interviews by IRM researcher, 22–29 March 2021.


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