Open Data Government Organizations (NZ0022)
Commitment 11: Authoritative dataset of government
organisations as open data for greater transparency
To release and maintain an authoritative dataset of government
organisations as open, machine-readable data to enhance the transparency
of government structures to the public.
There will be cross-agency agreement to maintain this dataset, providing
assurance that the data being used is the authoritative source. This dataset
becomes a foundation for both digital services and information about
New Zealanders and others will have access to authoritative, open
data about government agencies and their roles, learn more about how
government is structured, what agencies do, and be able to reuse the open
data in new and innovative ways.
At present, data about government organisations is duplicated in standalone lists and databases across multiple organisations. This results in
different information being provided about the same agency in multiple
locations which can erode public trust. This data is also often not in an
easily reusable format.
New technologies and open standards have the potential to scale the
impact of Open Government initiatives. Machine-readable open data is a
practical example of this and plays an important part in driving transparency
and digital service transformation in government. An open dataset of
government organisation details could be used as a base for the Directory
of Official Information, Archives Public Records Act database, the Audit
Offices’ database, local council information, and many more. Lead Agency: Government Chief Digital Officer, Department of Internal Affairs
Timeline: October 2018 – June 2020
Commitment 11: Release and maintain an authoritative dataset of
government organisations as open data for greater transparency
OGP Values Transparency,
Technology and Innovation
Verifiable and measurable milestones to fulfil
Start date End date
Identify owners, contributors and maintainers of the
data held in the proposed dataset.
Investigate and agree on the appropriate open
standards for the dataset.
Work with identified dataset contributors to agree
process for ongoing maintenance of the dataset.
Release the open data set on data.govt.nz and
make it available via the data.govt.nz open data
Application Programming Interface (API)9
promote the opportunities of reuse that the
dataset provides with government agencies, nongovernmental organisations, business, and the public.
June 2019 June 2020
IRM Midterm Status Summary
11. Authoritative dataset of government organisations as open data for greater transparency 
Objective: “To release and maintain an authoritative dataset of government organisations as open, machine-readable data to enhance the transparency of government structures to the public”.
- “Identify owners, contributors and maintainers of the data held in the proposed dataset”;
- “Investigate and agree on the appropriate open standards for the dataset”;
- “Work with identified dataset contributors to agree process for ongoing maintenance of the dataset”;
- “Release the open data set on data.govt.nz and make it available via the data.govt.nz open data Application Programming Interface (API) and promote the opportunities of reuse that the dataset provides with government agencies, nongovernmental organisations, business, and the public”.
Start Date: October 2018
End Date: June 2020
Context and Objectives
The objective of this commitment is for government to compile, maintain, use and release publicly a new authoritative dataset of New Zealand’s central and local government organisations as open, machine-readable data.
Infrastructure to increase transparency and accountability was a theme in the submissions received during development of the action plan, with one submission to “extend organisational accountability information” in the government A-Z directory on govt.nz.  Current multiple lists about the structure of government and the history of current and former government agencies confuse the public and limit capability for private sector innovation.  A Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) blog states that no current list is complete and machine-readable, “duplicated effort across government is enormous”, a single list would detail all the services and functions of government and create opportunities for research and analysis.  Members of the public would welcome one up-to-date real-time list of current agencies, their sub-agencies and working brands and responsibilities given New Zealand’s very regular machinery of government changes. It would become the foundation authoritative resource on present and past government agencies.
This work meets OGP’s access to information and technology and innovation for openness and accountability values by providing open access to information describing current and former government agencies and their functions, using international standard(s) and releasing this authoritative list of government organisations as open machine-readable data, allowing innovative re-use such as visualisations and for service delivery. This work meets the international Open Data Charter’s requirements. 
DIA will identify and work with the agencies responsible for creating and describing the official names of government agencies and their functions, investigate and agree on open standards for the dataset, agree dataset maintenance processes and procedures with dataset contributors, release it on data.govt.nz and as an application programme interface (API), and promote its re-use opportunities with government and the public. The intention of the commitment is to build a final dataset from a smaller group of datasets from targeted agencies.
The commitments are specific enough to be verified objectively. The IRM researcher interviewed business stakeholders who describe this commitment as ‘fantastic’, but want a shorter timeline, Milestone 1’s data released when complete, shorter timelines for Milestones 2 and 3, and certainty the dataset will be released as both open data for citizens and as an API for business.  They referred to New Zealand’s Digital 9 (D9) commitments,  suggesting that the other D9 countries could shorten the timeline by advising New Zealand on the open standards for this dataset. They also suggested StatsNZ become a joint lead agency given its data stewardship leadership role. Others  sought certainty that the list would be granular, providing full details of organisational structures, that the architecture was extensible, that it lists the legislation that agencies administer, and that all other lists are discontinued. 
If fully implemented as designed this work could be transformative, particularly for digital government service delivery. As well as simplifying work for those people and businesses who rely on legal lists of government organisations. This machine-readable dataset would assist development work for IT companies who work with government to deliver services. They say they currently ‘have to find a set, where it is and then ask for it’. 
This dataset could merge or be the source for at least six government directories,  feed commercial products such as the New Zealand Government Sector Directory  and offer researchers, academics, students and the public the primary source on the history of and present status of government agencies.  Visualisations of New Zealand’s government structure will aid civil society and government itself to understand how government works.
According to an independent consultant on open government and access to information laws, the transformative potential of this commitment resides on the authoritative quality of the datasets and in its adoption by core government agencies for their tasks. 
If this commitment is carried forward to the next action plan or if there are improvements to the implementation of this commitment, the IRM researcher recommends that:
- there is commitment to maintain and further develop the governance structures for its sustainability and mandate;
- DIA releases the ownership data collated for Milestone 1 as soon as the list is completed and shortens the timeframes for Milestones 2 and 3;
- DIA consults with its D9 counterparts regarding applying their open standards experience for Milestone 2;
- StatsNZ continues the close collaboration with DIA and/or joint leadership given its data stewardship leadership role and national statistical office experience releasing official statistics in open formats; and that
- legislation that agencies administer is included in this list.
Engagement with Parliament
NZ0012, 2018, Capacity Building
NZ0013, 2018, Capacity Building
School Leavers' Toolkit
NZ0014, 2018, Capacity Building
Making New Zealand’S Secondary Legislation Readily Accessible
NZ0015, 2018, E-Government
Public Participation in Policy Development
NZ0016, 2018, Capacity Building
NZ0017, 2018, Capacity Building
NZ0018, 2018, Access to Information
Review of Government Use of Algorithms
NZ0019, 2018, Automated Decision-Making
Data Practice Transparency
NZ0020, 2018, Capacity Building
Monitoring Information Management Practice
NZ0021, 2018, Legislation & Regulation
Open Data Government Organizations
NZ0022, 2018, Access to Information
NZ0023, 2018, Access to Information
NZ0005, 2016, Access to Information
Improving Official Information Practices
NZ0006, 2016, Access to Information
Improving Open Data Access and Principles
NZ0007, 2016, Access to Information
Tracking Progress and Outcomes of Open Government Data Release
NZ0008, 2016, Access to Information
Ongoing Engagement for OGP
NZ0009, 2016, Capacity Building
Improving Access to Legislation
NZ0010, 2016, Capacity Building
Improving Policy Practices
NZ0011, 2016, Capacity Building
BPS Result 10 – New Zealanders Can Complete Their Transactions with the Government Easily in a Digital Environment
NZ0001, 2014, E-Government
ICT Strategy Action 13 – Open by Default: Active Re-use of Information Assets
NZ0002, 2014, Access to Information
National Integrity System Assessment
NZ0003, 2014, Anti-Corruption
The Kia TūTahi Relationship Accord
NZ0004, 2014, Capacity Building