Open Government Partnership – Australia

5.2 - Enhance public participation in government decision making

Objective and description:

Australia will work towards improving public participation and engagement to enhance policy and service delivery outcomes for Australians.

We will do this by establishing a new Australian Government framework for public participation and engagement.

Status Quo:

Government is comprised of a diverse range of organisations, with approaches to participation varying considerably across different departments and agencies. High barriers to participation and piecemeal or unpredictable approaches to consultation can lead to an inefficient and dissatisfying experience. The current mechanisms for consultation often do not fully meet the Government’s practical requirements for policy and program development.  In addition, current mechanisms can be ineffective in enabling ‘co-design’.

Numerous reviews have highlighted scope for improvement in the way the Australian Public Service engages with the public when developing policies and programs. For example, Peter Shergold’s Learning from Failure recommended that “the APS should promote new forms of civil participation, including digital and deliberative democracy techniques, in order to enhance consumer-directed care, improve customer service, encourage greater public engagement and inform the public economy”.

There is a need to identify and disseminate information on good practices and help peer exchange between government agencies and across different levels of government. Digital technologies also open up new opportunities for engagement and there are a range of innovative techniques that could be further explored at the Commonwealth level (e.g. policy hacks, online challenge platforms and citizen juries). In addition, there has been a lack of investment in social media and on-line tools relevant to public participation in government decision-making.

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 also requires Commonwealth entities to work cooperatively with others to achieve common objectives, where practicable.

Ambition:

To design and adopt a whole-of-government framework that embeds meaningful, open, public and multi-stakeholder participation into the business of policy development and service delivery.

Relevance:

This commitment will advance the OGP values of transparency, accountability and public participation by:

  • facilitating informed public participation;

  • improving policy development and service delivery;

  • enhancing transparency around government decision making;

  • encouraging an ongoing sharing of information and views across interest groups that builds consensus on broad policy directions; and

  • creating more engaged private and community sectors, and public.

OGP Grand Challenge: 

Improving Public Services

Timeframes:

Late 2016 – July 2018

Lead agency:

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Other actors involved: 

  • Government - All Commonwealth entities (including the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission)

  • Non-government - Research sector, non-government organisations (including Australian Open Government Partnership Network, IAP2 and the Australasian Facilitators Network), private sector and the public

Milestones:

  • Undertake and publicly release a stocktake of current approaches to public participation to determine best practice activities (including international and domestic examples, user experience research, methodologies to encourage adoption, and relevant standards, such as IAP2 values).

    • January 2017 - July 2017

  • Work with government agencies, the public and organisations outside of government to develop and implement a whole-of-government framework (with guidance / principles and potential public participation initiatives) for improving public participation and engagement across the Commonwealth.

    • July 2017 - December 2017

  • Undertake pilot public participation initiatives, including working with the Digital Transformation Agency to more effectively use digital channels for engagement.

    • December 2017 - Mid 2018 (ongoing)

  • Review processes and iterate as necessary.

    • Ongoing