Open letter to incoming government on steps to complete OGP national action plan
Prompt action needed to broaden the dialogue and establish multi stakeholder partnership arrangement
On 17 May the Chair of the Australian Open Government Partnership Network Steering Committee, Dr David Solomon wrote to the Prime Minister about the Open Government Partnership urging the government to advise the Co-chairs of the international OGP Steering Committee that the election and the caretaker conventions that apply mean Australia’s national action plan cannot be completed by the 30 June deadline.
The OGP Support Unit has since stated publicly that a delay in submitting a plan as a result of an election is not unexpected and a plan submitted up to four months late is satisfactory compliance.
Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Dr Steven Kennedy has informed the Network that the plan on which the department has been working would not be submitted on time and the OGP has been informed.
The Support Unit is encouraging government and civil society in all countries with delays “to use any extra time taken to produce a very strong action plan reflective of national priorities on open government. Treat this delay as an opportunity to agree on a more extensive and inclusive co-creation process and spend more time learning from the experiences of other countries.”
Interested parties outside government have heard nothing about the content of the Australian plan since early April, or detail of any commitments under consideration by government agencies.
It will be a matter for the government elected on 2 July to determine how it wishes to proceed to finalise the plan and the time needed to complete the process.
Extra time provides the opportunity to broaden discussion and debate about commitments, and to establish a formal process which has been lacking so far for government and non government to come together in the true spirit of partnership as recommended good practice by the OGP.
The Network urges prompt action by the government that takes office after the election to announce it will take up to four months to complete the NAP.
1. To use the extra time to enhance the Australian OGP framework to include an interim multi stakeholder partnership arrangement, and to make a concerted effort to broaden the consultation and develop consensus on a plan of ambitious commitments that “promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.”
2. To establish this interim partnership arrangement by
- appointing a committee/council/forum co-chaired by a senior government official (Secretary, or Deputy Secretary) and a respected non government representative with equal representation (say 4 representatives each) from within government and from civil society organisations;
- directing the committee/council/ forum to draw on submissions received during the earlier consultation phase and from government agencies, and publish a list of commitments that appear to have strong support, inviting public comment broadly, and contacting and seeking to engage in the process prominent civil society, business and other organisations not previously involved that could enrich discussion of priority reforms;
- requiring the group to report to the Prime Minister in six weeks with a draft plan, at the midpoint having had the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister to outline progress and canvass options that require ministerial consideration;
- including in the plan a commitment to establish a permanent mechanism to replace the interim arrangement within the period covered by the plan that reflects emerging OGP ‘good practice’ for government-non government dialogue and involvement in OGP planning and implementation.
3. To announce the new arrangements as a positive step in a partnership that will identify and embrace significant reforms through a process that also will link the national action plan with Australia’s planned implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Anti Corruption commitments.
4. To provide support for the committee/council/forum including funding to cover direct expenses and the time involved of non government participants.
5. To plan now to ensure a strong Australian presence at the OGP Global Summit to be held in Paris in December 2016, including attendance by the Prime Minister or a senior minister, and with government financial support, Australian civil society representatives.
6. To develop a proposal to host in 2017 or 2018 the Asia Pacific regional OGP meeting. Indonesia hosted the first meeting in 2014 in Bali. A second meeting hosted by the Asian Development Bank and the OGP is scheduled for July 2016 in Manila. We understand there are no current offers to host future meetings. Australia has had little presence at OGP gatherings to date. An offer to host a regional meeting would be consistent with Prime Minister Turnbull’s announced intention that Australia be an active member of the OGP, and our foreign policy and other interests in the region.