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New Zealand

Tracking Progress and Outcomes of Open Government Data Release (NZ0008)



Action Plan: New Zealand Second National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive


Lead Institution: Land Information New Zealand, Department of Internal Affairs, Statistics New Zealand

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Open Data, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: New Zealand End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, New Zealand Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i



Tracking progress and outcomes of open government data release We will help government agencies improve public access to, and outcomes of, non-personal, government-held data by openly tracking progress on efforts to open up data stores. Objective: To help drive the government agency culture change required to gain value from open government data. Status quo: Open data is not currently managed through a set of consistent or cohesive objectives across government. One result of this is that government agencies have a limited understanding of how and why to address barriers to releasing open data. Ambition: Government agencies will be knowledgeable about what data they should and should not publicly release and why, how to remove obstacles to reuse, and will be consistently applying these filters to their data holdings. This will increase the amount and quality of data released.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

4. Tracking progress and outcomes of open government data release


Develop an open government data action plan, based on feedback gathered from the open data community and government officials

Publish the action plan

Develop a public dashboard for reporting against the action plan goals

Seek public feedback on the proposed public dashboard

Regularly update the public dashboard on government progress toward the goals.

Responsible institution: Land Information New Zealand (lead from 1 October 2016-10 March 2017), Statistics NZ (lead from 11 March 2017 onwards)

Supporting institution(s): None specified

Start date: October 2016 .

End date: June 2018

Context and Objectives

Shifting New Zealand’s government agencies’ data release culture to an ‘open by default’ approach remains a sizeable challenge. While New Zealand has excellent examples of innovative re-use of government’s open data and scored 99% in the 2016 Open Data Barometer’s potential impact ranking, it only scored 58% for its implementation of government policy.[Note136: Open Data Barometer, accessed 17 January 2018,] Many agencies still need assistance with incorporating open data release into their daily publishing processes. Perceived obstacles include: a concern that public data must be 100% accurate even when agencies use that same data to deliver their own daily business; that there is no additional budget for preparing the data for publication in open formats; that applying open licensing is difficult; and that there is a risk that personal data will inadvertently be released.

This commitment aims to address these concerns through an agreed open government data action plan developed by the public and government officials, and by monitoring agencies’ subsequent progress making their data available. This approach replaces the earlier annual progress reports to Cabinet.

This commitment proposes an online monitoring mechanism which would track efforts to open up data stores and the implementation of an open government data action plan co-created with the public and government officials. This could meet reporting requirements at Ministerial, executive and management level and present a comprehensive online picture of New Zealand’s open data progress to a local and international audience. The public dashboard would enable continued feedback from the public on whether government is releasing the high value data anticipated by the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government.[Note137: ’ Declaration on Open and Transparent Government,’ New Zealand Government, 8 August 2011,]

The commitment is highly specific and it is relevant to the OGP values of access to information, civic participation, and technology and innovation. The provision of new information, while often an important pre-requisite for public accountability, is not in itself sufficient for meeting the OGP’s public accountability value. A public facing, feedback mechanism is required. Government is disclosing more data in machine-readable formats; it is opening up decision-making to any interested member of the public; it is disclosing performance data; and it is promoting new technologies that offer opportunities for information sharing, public participation and collaboration.

If fully implemented, this commitment would have a moderate potential impact. It is a major step forward in improving implementation of the government’s open data policy. It is premised on releasing the high value public data held across the wider public service, including Crown entities and local government, and proposes an action plan and a mechanism to report uptake. On the data supply side, open government data release based on user demand would become a regular business-as-usual activity across the public sector, the quality of the data would be improved, and performance would be monitored. Government officials would have assistance to address concerns about releasing open data, and to increase their data management skills. On the demand side, the public would influence data release priorities and have greater opportunities to re-use and add value to the data.

For this commitment to be transformative, however, the work must extend beyond initial stages and include strategies to maintain Ministerial, executive and management support. The IRM researcher suggests further milestones for regular reporting to Ministers, agency executives and the cross-government Information Group, and reviewing agency uptake of the dashboard mechanism. Also, the commitment should report on agencies’ adoption of NZGOAL and the New Zealand Data and Information Management Principles, government’s other information and data policies. As written, the commitment only covers non-personal data, not the government-held information that is openly licensed and released for re-use.


For the same reasons as for commitment three (improving open data access and principles), this commitment’s timeline was also officially changed at the end of June 2017, with later completion dates set for all its activities. The first two activities, to develop and publish an open government data action plan, were completed on time. Initial consultation on the content of an open government data action plan took place between June and 30 September 2016.[Note138:; ‘Open Data Charter Consultation Comms Strategy,’ Open Government Information & Data Programme, accessed 17 January 2018,] Activity on the commitment dropped until the programme moved to Statistics New Zealand in March 2017. There was a short period of public online consultation on the draft action plan between 21 June and 30 June 2017 with feedback invited on New Zealand’s OGP website, via email or on Twitter.[Note139: ‘Three-year action plan for open government data,’ Open Government Partnership: New Zealand, accessed 17 January 2018, ] An informative update on commitments three and four, published on the OpenNZ discussion list on 26 June, advised that the finalised action plan would be published on 7 July 2017, prompting stakeholder praise.[Note140: ‘Achieving our Open Data Milestones,’ Open New Zealand, accessed 17 January 2018,] The public stakeholders interviewed by the IRM researcher either had little comment on this activity—they had participated in the development of the action plan and were looking ahead to more implementation details—or they were unaware of the progress.

Progress on the remaining three commitment activities concerning the public dashboard will be covered in the end-of-term report.

Early Results (if any)

Stakeholders interviewed who were aware that the three-year action plan had been released, supported its six focus areas:

adopt a core set of principles for open government data;

expand and deepen open data practice;

make sure the open government data published is truly open;

harmonise open data, privacy and freedom of information efforts;

consult data users and prioritise what data citizens and data users want; and

provide funding, training and support to close the data gap.

Stakeholders would like to see a more detailed timeline with deliverable dates for the lead government agencies. Statistics New Zealand has announced the open data action plan will be updated by 31 October 2017.[Note141: Paragraph 36] Any updates will be analysed in the End-of-term report.

Next Steps

The IRM researcher recommends that this commitment is completed in the remaining period of the action plan and that government consider merging the remaining work on action plan commitments three and four as the activities relating to adopting the Open Data Charter have been completed. Based on the 26 June 2017 update referred to above, this would recognise this is one programme of work delivering commitments three and four as part of the broader Open Government Data work programme.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

4. Tracking progress and outcomes of open government data release

Commitment Aim:

The government sought to help agencies improve their public data release. It would do so by developing and publishing an open government data action plan. This plan would be based on feedback from the public and government officials. The government would track agencies’ progress toward goals through a regularly updated public dashboard.


Midterm: Limited

Due to changes in ministerial portfolios and the agency where the programme was located, the government extended the deadline for all milestones. By midterm, Stats NZ had partially completed all milestones. The first open data action plan, with a deadline of 30 June 2020 for goals and initiatives, took effect on 1 July 2017. The plan involved public consultation (Milestones 1 and 2), and work started on the public dashboard (Milestone 3). For more information, see the 2016–2018 IRM midterm report. [Note69: “Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): New Zealand Progress Report 2016–2018,” Open Government Partnership, ]

End of term: Complete

The government had completed Milestones 1 and 2 when the updated open data action plan was released. These events occurred simultaneously with New Zealand’s official adoption of the Open Data Charter in March 2018. The updated action plan included a six-month implementation plan listing 21 specific activities to improve access to government-held data. The activities would also increase use of such data, build an “open by design” culture, and offer training and meetings in main centres. [Note70: “New Zealand Open Data Action Plan,” Open Government Data Programme,,; Cabinet minutes note that “adoption of the International Open Data Charter is consistent with the existing Declaration on Open and Transparent Government and the New Zealand Data and Information Management Principles,”; “Background to the Open Data Action Plan,” Open Government Data Programme,,]

Stats NZ’s June 2018 progress report on implementation of the open data action plan stated that work to publish data inventories for three government agencies was on track. The report also stated that they had defined requirements for a prototype dashboard and begun a dashboard procurement process. [Note71: “Open Data Implementation Plan Progress Report,” Open Government Data Programme,,, accessed 9 October 2018.] As of 18 November 2018, the IRM researcher could not find progress updates on the data inventories from any other online source.

Stats NZ used an online discussion forum and social media [Note72: For example, Open Data NZ (@opendatanz), “Our new #opendata Maturity Dashboard is now live. Read about some of the insights it gave us to put into our plans in this blog, then check out the dashboard itself. (Our thanks to @dumpark for their help).,” Tweet, 24 September 2018,, accessed 17 November 2018.] to seek feedback from the public about the dashboard. It also used these methods to receive a detailed submission from Transparency International New Zealand [Note73: “Open Government Data Dashboard Prototype 2017,”,; “Open Data Dashboard,” Loomio,] (Milestones 3 and 4). Stats NZ then incorporated the feedback into the business requirements for the interactive dashboard. It completed these milestones when it released results from data maturity surveys in July 2017 and June 2018 on a static prototype dashboard on 29 June 2018. The survey results assessed how government agencies govern and release open data and how much they value datasets. [Note74: “Open Government Data Dashboard,”,, 29 June 2018.]

The new interactive dashboard, released on 25 September 2018, used the same data but presented it differently (Milestone 5). [Note75: “Open Data Maturity Dashboard,”,, accessed 9 October 2018.] The dashboard displays survey results showing 39 agencies’ progress in six focus areas. The focus areas cover data management, knowledge and skills, stakeholder engagement and support, licencing, investment and financial performance, and strategic oversight. The IRM researcher notes that as of 17 November 2018, there has been no comment from civil society on the blog announcing these results.

Stats NZ intends to continue this annual survey. Doing so will allow agencies to meet their Cabinet obligation to report annually on their open data maturity. It will also help them prioritise open data release.

Stats NZ’s open data meetups across four New Zealand cities (Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Wellington) met the intent of Commitments 3 and 4. Previous meetings had been held only in Wellington, the capital city. Membership of the meetups increased from the initial 181 in Wellington in April 2017 to 616 in the four main centres in November 2018. [Note76: “Open Data Implementation Plan Progress Report,” Open Government Data Programme,, accessed 9 October 2018.] The IRM researcher was informed that the purpose of these meetings is to raise awareness, build community, and foster a relationship between government and nongovernment open data advocates. [Note77: Email from Paul Stone, Open Government data lead, 16 November 2018.] Stats NZ also published a newsletter (emailed to around 387 people), has a Twitter account (Open Data NZ has 1,714 followers), and uses the Open NZ forum (hosting 352 people).

Commitment 3’s activities that invigorated agencies’ data champions’ network also contributed to achievement of this commitment. This network encourages senior leaders to ensure their agencies publish all public data in accordance with open data principles.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Marginal

With respect to access to information, it is too early to observe any significant changes in government open data release practice, given the changed milestone timelines. However, the government’s 2018 dashboard reports show early signs of a change in agencies toward regular publishing of open data. [Note78: “Open Government Data Dashboard,”,, accessed 13 August 2018.]

With respect to civic participation, the government developed its ambitious and comprehensive open data action plan in consultation with stakeholders. Stats NZ demonstrated open data leadership, and the open data community reciprocated by responding to requests for comment on the dashboard design. [Note79: Paul Stone posted a message on the Open NZ discussion list on 8 November 2017 to thank “everyone who has contributed feedback on the dashboard in both the Loomio discussion (at​/g​/FfqHtMDG​/open​-data​-dashboard) and in this forum discussion”; ] Since Stats NZ started leading the government’s open data activities, the public has had increased opportunities to engage. On average, 22 people attended each meeting in the four main centres over the period of this action plan. Social media membership indicates widespread interest in the programme. It is noteworthy that Stats NZ now holds physical events beyond Wellington, the capital city. However, at this early stage, this has resulted only in marginal change in practice across government.

Carried Forward?

The government has completed this commitment. It is expected that the Open Government Information and Data Programme at Stats NZ, funded through June 2020, will continue to openly track progress. It will also report on the outcomes of open government data release.


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