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Introduction

Australia’s first Open Government National Action Plan was developed in collaboration with the representatives of civil society and launched in December 2016. It contains commitments to strengthen and improve transparency and accountability in business, open data and digital transformation, access to government information, integrity in the public sector, and public participation and engagement.

The Australian Government, informed by consultations with the community, has since made substantial progress in completing the majority of these commitments. Notwithstanding the expiry of the first Plan, it will continue to implement incomplete commitments, and continue to report on progress to Australia’s Open Government Forum and publicly via the OGP Australia website until they are concluded.

This second Open Government National Action Plan builds on the lessons and successes of our first Plan. It consists of a focussed set of commitments, which will together further open up government, and help realise all the values of the Open Government Partnership to enhance access to information, civic participation, public accountability, and technology and innovation for openness and accountability. Specifically, this National Action Plan seeks to:

  • strengthen the national anti-corruption framework;
  • enhance the transparency of political donations and funding;
  • improve the sharing, use and reuse of public-sector data;
  • improve public service practices using place-based approaches;
  • enhance state and territory participation in the Open Government Partnership;
  • enhance public engagement skills in the public service;
  • engage Australians in the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service; and
  • expand open contracting and due diligence in procurement.

The Open Government Forum recognises the potential for our Open Government commitments to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Australia and around the world. In particular, the Forum notes the mutually reinforcing aspects of this Plan with Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, which focuses on access to justice and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions, and Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals, which emphasises multi-stakeholder partnerships to share knowledge and expertise.

The Plan has also been developed to respond to the mid-term report of the Independent Reporting Mechanism, which evaluated Australia’s progress in its first year of implementing its open government commitments. The report recommended that Australia:

  • broaden its stakeholder engagement on open government matters;
  • enhance awareness of open government initiatives across government;
  • advance work related to establishing a federal anti-corruption agency and lobbying and political donation reform initiatives;
  • develop a comprehensive process for reform of Australian Government information management and access practices; and
  • enhance coordination with state and territory governments on open government matters.

These recommendations have been considered in designing the process for developing Australia’s next Open Government National Action Plan, and in the resulting open government commitments.

This Plan has been developed in collaboration with the Australian community, and has involved both online and face-to-face consultations, which have formed part of a larger developmental process that has been guided and overseen by Australia’s multi-stakeholder forum, the Open Government Forum. The Australian Government thanks all of the members of the Forum – who will continue to oversee and monitor implementation of the new Plan, and assist the government’s continuing efforts to elevate the profile of open government matters – and everyone who participated in the development of this Plan.

Developing our Second National Action Plan

The development of this Plan has been informed by consultations with the Australian community. This was conducted in line with a five-stage process developed with our Open Government Forum, incorporating periods for:

  • retrospective reflection (November-December 2017), where we worked with government and key stakeholders to identify continuing and prospective themes and commitments;
  • raising awareness of the OGP and the process to develop the next Plan, and seeking ideas (January 2018);
  • developing ideas (February-March), where we developed prospective themes and commitments through a series of online and face-to-face consultations around the country;
  • drafting commitments (April-July), which included working with the Open Government Forum to further develop and refine prospective commitments, conducting another series of online and face-to-face consultations, and convening a meeting of the Forum to make final recommendations to government on the Plan; and
  • finalising the Plan (August), where we submitted and published the Plan.

Details and timelines of this process were first published online in early December 2017. In order to raise awareness of the process, and in particular to enhance public participation in the consultations, opportunities for public engagement were further promoted from early February 2018 on the OGP Australia website and on governmental social media, and emailed to subscribers of the OGP Australia email list and to specific key civil society stakeholders who had been identified by the Forum. Civil society members of the Forum also assisted in promoting the consultations.

Phase 1 consultations: Prospective themes and commitments

In the first phase of public consultation, in the six weeks from 19 February-30 March, the Australian Government asked the Australian community about prospective themes and commitments for the Plan. Individuals and groups could have their say by submitting and discussing ideas at the OGP Australia website in response to five discussion starters, and leave suggestions for other commitments. The Australian Government also convened five face-to-face consultations in different cities across the country.

During this time, nearly 60 comments and submissions from over 100 registered users and attendees were received and published. The outcomes of each face-to-face consultation were also published.

The ideas for commitments were then considered by the Open Government Forum, who worked with the government agencies to further develop and refine them at its meetings in April, May, and June. The Forum discussed emerging cross-cutting themes in business, integrity, engagement, states and territories, and data. As a result of this process, commitments relating to improving public service practices using place-based approaches, engaging Australians in the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, and expanding open contracting and due diligence in procurement were added.

Phase 2 consultations: Draft Plan

This second phase was held from 25 June-8 July, and included release of a full draft Plan for comment online, which contained eight draft commitments. The Australian Government also held two face-to-face workshops.

These consultations were promoted by the Australian Government and civil society members of the Open Government Forum in a manner similar to that employed for the first phase of consultations.

During this time nearly 60 comments and submissions from nearly 90 registered users and attendees were received and published.

Australia’s Open Government Forum met again in July to consider feedback received in this second phase of consultations and make a final recommendation to government on the content of Australia’s second Open Government National Action Plan 2018-20.