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New Zealand Design Report 2018–2020 – For Public Comment

In 2019, the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) published the Design Report for New Zealand’s third action plan (2018-2020). The report covers the development of the action plan and the design of its commitments.

In New Zealand, the IRM researcher Keitha Booth’s findings are summarized below:

“New Zealand’s third action plan reflects an effort to move beyond access to information commitments and includes other areas such as participation in democracy and public participation to develop policy and services. The co-creation process benefited from wider public engagement and is an improvement from previous years. Local government engagement and public participation are areas of opportunities for future action plans.”

The version of the report for public comment is available in English below. The two-week public comment period closed 14 October 2019.


Filed under: Report Comments

Comments (2)

Kay Jones Reply

Initial comments on the overall review;
The commitments stated under Secondary Legislation, Service Design and Official Information exaggerate the plans for action and likely impact.
Re page 30 Without actionable steps to use legislation, improving access to Secondary Legislation may not deliver described gains. I previously spoke more favourably about this step but that was when there was an internal co-partner within Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) to translate legislation into machine code for use. The closing down of the DIA Service Innovation Lab in October 2019 sees the end to some of the work delivering this transformation.
Page 35 – 36. Previously I strongly supported the steps on Service Design in the OGPNZ Action Plan. That is no longer the case and I do not believe the steps outlined will have any positive impacts. The closure of the DIA Service Innovation Lab will also make Service Design delivery more difficult by removing the development and testing environment for cross agency work. The so-called Digital Service Design Standard is not a standard. It contains no measurable content and cannot ensure validation. It is under developed for use even as a Guideline and will not help government agencies standardise and co-ordinate their work. Without a team further developing the material and training agencies in expectations, there will not be an improvement in this area across Government.
The description of these goals in the Plan is disappointing.
Where is the progress on reviewing the Official Information Act legislation and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act? Neither Act has been reviewed for modern communications nor the use of social media by agencies and council. The current legislation is falling behind developments in technology. Both Acts need to be reviewed and updated.
Page 37 to 39. Stronly agree with comments made to the reviewer there is a need for a full review of the OIA and LGOIMA legisation. Reference to key OIA issues of excluding some Officers from scrutiny understates the other issues with practical noncompliance with the spirit of the Act, and in some cases with deliberate flouting of the law by officials. There is little scrutiny of their actions nor recourse to an effective complaints procedure. Without penalties or sanctions there is little prospect of improvement in areas of deliberate noncompliance.
These Milestones? Pebbles? are meaningless:
1. “Test the merits of undertaking a review of the Official Information Act 1982 and provide and
publish advice to Government”; What sort of Test? Would it include Civil Society and Community and Media questioners currently frustrated by non or partial compliance?
2. “Achieve a measurable increase in the proactive publication of official information request
responses”; What “measurable increase” – 2%? 5%? What of measurement of public satisfaction with responses? What of complaints on noncompliance? Why not measure them?
3. “Implement a policy to publish Cabinet papers proactively within 30 days of final decisions, unless there are good reasons to withhold specific papers”. That’s Business As Usual and has already been signalled.
Next Steps on Page 38 look fair.
The Report does not comment on issues raised about lack of accessibility to services and democratic participation for disabled New Zealanders other than a reference to better accessibility testing of websites. All of Government standards for websites use accessibility measures but currently documentation and other modes of communication are not covered. The Report for this Review, like many discussion documents, is not fully accessible. Co-design with disability communities or with accessibility advisors would help.
Accessibility is also relevant for Public policy Participation Pages 32 to 34 also. Voting is low amongst the disability community in part because of barriers to participation and in part because of the lack of information in appropriate formats for them, including Easy Read Format for people with Learning issues. How does this oversight fit with the stated goal on Page 8 of “government’s commitment in the action plan to developing “a just and inclusive society”.
The Report notes on Page 13 “The SSC set out the rules of participation and background information about open government and OGP on the OGPNZ website and actively promoted engagement on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. On 18 April 2018, it announced workshop dates and a timeline for developing the plan, subsequent timelines, channels to be used and roles for civil society. All New Zealanders were welcome to participate. On 23 April 2018 the SSC invited the public to attend regional workshops to be held from 21 to 29 May 2018”
It is ludicrous to suggest that “All New Zealanders were welcome to participate” on the basis of messaging using “the OGPNZ website and actively promoted engagement on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn”. Very few of the 4.7M New Zealanders follow the OGPNZ on social media and there are still sections of the population who do not have access to digital media. Many more people than those who participated in the process may have offered their views if they were approached directly in a community engagement process that went to them, for example visits to marae with adequate advance warning and resourcing. Follow up with those participants to initial workshops was also missing. The release of the draft action plan for public comment from 20 September to 17 October 2018 only happened after repeated public requests for such engagement. This does not demonstrate good open government engagement.
Page 14 ” There was no evidence of interactive social media conversation with followers” – possibly because OGPNZ account holders did not actively engage? They were tagged into discussions on Twitter but seldom replied.
Agree with comments on Page 14 – 15 for more Co-creation and Partnership activities as per ‘Some areas where New Zealand can improve are: … but also ensure that diverse needs of potential participants are met for accessible content and formats, and support to participate. Open Government should include participants who are blind or low vision or deaf or hard of hearing etc. Co-designing the engagement process with civil society in advance would help.
Further regarding Pages 32 to 34, it is unclear from the report if there will be better clarity and guidance for Government agencies on shared Consultation websites. Currently many separate agencies use their own “Have Your Say” Consultation pages and in some cases have Consultation links on other webpages instead. It would aid the public if there was a centralised system for Consultation on Legislation and on Government consultations.
Page 26 Development of A SchoolLeavers’ Toolkit will make no difference to young people unless it is relevant and is used. Without resourcing and mandatory attachment to a national criteria before students are 15, this will not have any impact on those students most likely to be disengaged already. Students in better resourced schools may take an interest in such a Kit. Students where teachers are under resourced are also likely to be the ones who leave school early. Verification of use of a ToolKit should be required not just development of a Toolkit. As well as a Professional Development Hub for teachers, an effective strategy would include opportunities for student led initiatives. Many students will engage more actively in student led initiatives so training and resources should include them too.
Pages 40 and 41.It is troubling that the Review of Algorithms has been downgraded and no resourcing dedicated to this purpose. The use of algorithms has potential impacts on many service areas involving people going beyond a statistical analysis. It is unclear why Stats NZ would in future lead work in this area. It is also unclear how current work on algorithms and data analysis will be handled by individual agencies such as the Social Investment Unit in Treasury and possibly the Corrections Department if there is no over aching co-ordination throughout central government. Next Steps suggested on Page 41 are fair but there is no indication they will happen. The impression is that work on algorithms will continue behind closed doors in individual agencies without sharing or transparency.

Hayyat Reply

Very helpful for students

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