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Consultations for Australia's second Open Government National Action Plan 2018-20

Australia is widely recognised as one of the world’s most democratic and open countries. But we know there is always more to do: we can neither afford to let our hard-won progress slip, nor fail to meet new challenges. We want to ensure that our society remains one where citizens are empowered to question government and hold it to account. That’s why we joined the Open Government Partnership.

Australia’s first Open Government National Action Plan was developed in collaboration with the community 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.

Since then, we’ve established our Open Government Forum, continually reported publicly on the progress of our 15 commitments, and produced a Mid-Term Self-Assessment Report. We’re making good progress on what we promised.

Throughout this, community participation has been instrumental in driving open government. Community involvement has made our commitments more ambitious, our monitoring of progress more thorough, and the government’s engagement more meaningful. Community input has helped make our Plan a success.

Now it’s time to develop our second Open Government National Action Plan. This Plan is due by 31 August and will cover the period until August 2020. Building on the lessons and successes of our first Plan, this next Plan will focus on a more limited set of commitments, creating a genuine list of priorities that we can use to drive real progress.

Development of this Plan has already started. The process will work like this:

Development of Australia’s Next National Action Plan. Early-mid February: Raising Awareness: Promoting the Open Government Partnership and the process to develop the next Plan. Mid-February to late March: Developing Ideas: Seeking prospective themes and commitments for the next Plan. We’ll hold online and face-to-face consultations across the country. Early April to mid-July: Drafting Commitments: Further developing commitments into a draft Plan. We’ll hold online consultations and a face-to-face workshop. Mid-July to late August: Finalising the Plan: Settling and submitting the Plan.

There are two particular points where we want your input:

Prospective themes and commitments

In the first phase, we want to hear your ideas about prospective themes and commitments for the next Plan. From 19 February-30 March, you can have your say online by submitting and discussing ideas at this website.

To kick off discussions, the government has identified some areas where there’s a real opportunity for meaningful progress over the period of the next Plan. Our Open Government Forum then approved discussion starters on the following topics:

We welcome your ideas on these – as well as any other suggestions of how to make government more transparent, accountable and engaging. Just visit one of the pages linked above, register for an account, and make a comment.

Face-to-face consultations are also being held around the country (registrations for all consultations are now closed).

The Open Government Forum will consider the results of this first phase of consultations (both comments on the pages of this website and at the face-to-face consultations) at its meeting in April, and make recommendations to government about the content of the next Plan.

Draft Plan

In the second phase, we’ll release a full draft Plan for comment.

After a period of online consultation from 25 June-8 July, we’ll be holding a one-day workshop in Canberra on 11 July to finalise recommendations to government. Registrations for this workshop will open closer to the date.

The Open Government Partnership in Australia has been defined by its community involvement. Now, we’ve another opportunity to work together to develop a plan that, once again, reflects and cements our place as one of the world’s leading democratic and open societies.

Fiona McLeod SC and Barry Sterland
Co-Chairs, Open Government Forum

Colleen Lewis

The Open Government Partnership (OPG) is an important initiative of the Australian Government and its willingness to participate in such an important partnership is to be congratulated. Despite this positive step there is still much to be done to demonstrate that it is and is intended to be a meaningful partnership between government and civil society. I say this because at the moment the engagement to date with civil society is primarily with what could be described as a small group of politically informed citizens and organisations. In other words with people and organisations that are already well-known to government. Regrettably, there has been very little attempt to communicate with civil society more broadly. This means that very few people would know of the existence of the OGP or the website through which it conducts its outreach to the community. Meetings are held in Canberra and when they are not there seems to be no attempt to inform broader civil society about the scheduling of public forums, rather dates and times are proscribed by government and the distribution of such information is extremely limited. The website is not easy to navigate which means it is not user friendly. I do not wish to seem overly critical as I support the OGP and the ideas that form its framework but there is much to be done if the OGP is to be effective. The trust deficit between government and civil society and members of parliament and civil society is very wide and there is no indication that things are improving. The Open Government Partnership could well help in this regard but to do so it needs to be more inclusive in its approach to civil society.

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Ken Coghill

There is a serious problem with the provision for online lodging of Responses, Comments and Submissions. I have attempted to explain options thus:

The Open Government Partnership Australia website is confusing about how to lodge submissions and comments. Those received, for each theme,

· are listed under either Submissions and comments received via email OR
· the submitted text lodged as a Response is displayed as Posted .....
Although they can be submitted as Responses or Replies to Responses, I have found this to be unreliable i.e. even though I clicked in Save, neither my attempt nor my text has been recorded - in some cases. If you sent either, check that it is displayed. If not, re-send it via email.

More reliable is to send a submission or comment as an email, or email attachment (pdf if you can), to: ogp@pmc.gov.au

It is as if the person who designed the links for online submission did not check it with any potential user.

Today, I have had several failures of my attempts to Save Responses, and several successes. There remains a glitch in that Save link.

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Gregory Thompson

I value the opportunity to contribute to the shaping of Australia's second National Action Plan for the OGP. I doing so I in the months ahead in this shared task.

As I mentioned at the Melbourne Consultation I hope to contribute a more substantial proposal which would I believe address all of the criteria. I would propose a commitment which would involve a number of Federal Departments and Agencies and sub-national Governments. I propose a commitment to the development and strengthening of processes to the ensure the clean and open contracting in the development of Australia's Infrastructure. This would build on a couple of unfulfilled commitments on the first National Action Plan (Beneficial Ownership transparency and the adoption of the Open Contracting Data Standard for public procurement). In the process such a commitment will ensure the fulfilment of a number of Commitments by G20 leaders and Treaty Obligations including the UN Convention Against Corruption while strengthening public participation in decision making on issues of importance to Australia's future.

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