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New Zealand Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

New Zealand’s second national action plan addressed issues ranging from access to information, budget transparency, and civic participation. While the government took major steps toward improving access to legislation, at the midpoint of implementation of the plan nearly half of the listed commitments saw limited completion in the first year. Going forward, it is important that the NZ government includes meaningful reform in areas such as whistleblower protection, the Official Information Act, and citizen education.

HIGHLIGHTS

Commitment Overview Well-

Designed? *

1. Open Budget This commitment will increase familiarity with the budget process and provide feedback on accessing documents during the budget development phase for external groups. This is a significant step forward in terms of budget presentation and expands engagement across a wider cohort. No
✪ 6. Improving access to legislation

 

This commitment will expand the scope of published government documents to those drafted by government departments, Crown entities and statutory bodies under the delegated law-making authority of Parliament and by other non-government bodies. Yes

* Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as specific, relevant, and has a transformative potential impact

✪ Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as being specific, relevant, potentially transformative, and substantially or fully implemented

Process

In April 2016, the time frame for finalising New Zealand’s second action plan was extended and the SSC sought public input on the proposal on its website.1 After an initial June 2016 workshop to explore possible commitments with civil society,2 advance notice was given to the public across many consultation channels. Actual consultation took place for one month with stakeholders from civil society and the private sector, and ended with a co-creation workshop of government officials and civil society. The SSC invited the Expert Advisory Panel (EAP) and the Officials Group, and subsequently finalised the plan with no further involvement from the public.

Performance

New Zealand’s second action plan comprised seven commitments, with five from the public’s 87 OGP submissions and two from the government. Official Information Act compliance, public participation in policy making, and increasing access to open data were the most important themes. Only one of the seven commitments was assessed to have a potentially transformative impact on opening government.

IRM Recommendations

1. Expand the Expert Advisory Panel to include greater civil society representation
2. Reform official information laws and refocus the Open Data and Information Programme to publish social, environmental, and budget expenditure data
3. Develop standards for public consultation on policy initiatives
4. Include anti-corruption commitments in the next action plan, covering whistleblower protection and a public register of company beneficial ownership
5. Introduce citizenship education to increase democratic participation

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