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:
There are two particular points where we want your input:
In the first phase, we heard your ideas about prospective themes and commitments for the next Plan. From 19 February-30 March, you had your say online by submitting and discussing ideas at this website.
To kick off discussions, the government identified some areas where we thought there was 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:
- digital transformation
- civic participation
- public sector integrity
- access to government information (added 14 March), and
- trust (added 14 March).
We welcomed your ideas on these topics – as well as any other suggestions of how to make government more transparent, accountable and engaging.
Face-to-face consultations were also held around the country
- Canberra: 1-5pm, Wednesday, 14 March
- Perth: 9am-1pm, Friday, 16 March
- Melbourne: 1-5pm, Tuesday, 20 March
- Sydney: 1-5pm, Wednesday, 21 March
- Brisbane: 1-5pm, Friday, 23 March
As a result of this process, we received nearly 50 comments on our website, 18 longer electronic submissions, and hosted 64 attendees at our face-to-face consultations. All up, this generated 58 ideas for new Open Government commitments. The Open Government Forum then considered, developed and refined these ideas its meetings in April, May, and June.
In the second phase, from 25 June-8 July, we released a draft Plan for comment:
- National Action Plan Introduction
- 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-centred 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
- Expand open contracting and due diligence in procurement
We welcomed your comments on any of the draft commitments, and invited longer submissions via email.
We also held two face-to-face workshops:
Following the consultations, the Open Government Forum will meet again in July to consider all feedback received and make a final recommendation to Government on the content of Australia’s second Open Government National Action Plan 2018-20.
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