In November 2015 the Australian Government committed to finalising membership of theOpen Government Partnership (OGP) and this public consultation was launched to develop an Australian Government National Action Plan for open government.
Membership of the OGP will mean that Australia signs up to a regime of establishing plans for improving engagement with the public, greater transparency and more accountability for the services and outcomes it delivers.
In relation to the United States’ participation in the OGP, President Obama has said:
- Open Government promotes accountability, which can improve performance. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”
- Transparency enables people to find information that they “can readily find and use.” For this reason, the President has asked agencies to “harness new technologies” and “solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.”
- In many domains, government should develop policies, rules, and plans with close reference to the knowledge, expertise, and perspectives of diverse members of the public. As the President has said, “[k]nowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge” and hence to “collective expertise and wisdom.”
Clearly the move to join the OGP puts the Australian open government agenda on a whole new footing.
The Government is currently seeking to consult on its first National Action Plan – details can be found here.
For more on the OGP and what it entails, read this recent post by FOI expert Peter Timmins.