Australia Joins the Open Government Partnership

John Sheridan - FAS Technology & Procurement

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Today the Australian Government Attorney General and Special Minister of State, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC, has announced that Australia is joining the Open Government Partnership. This historic announcement brings Australia into a consortia of over 60 countries that are committed to:

"more transparent, effective and accountable governments -- with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations" – OGP About Page.

Australia is well positioned to join the Open Government Partnership and this announcement builds on the earlier work of the Australian Government’s response to the Gov 2.0 Taskforce. The Department of Finance and Deregulation reported on the progress of Gov 2.0 in Australia last July.

The key Australian Government 2.0 activities to date include:

By joining the Open Government Partnership, Australia is committing to:

  1. The Open Government Partnership Declaration - a statement of commitment to improving access to information about government activities, improving civic participation, high standards of professional integrity in the public service, and increasing access to new technologies for openness and accountability. Read the entire declaration for more details.
  2. Develop an OGP Action Plan which outlines a vision for open government in Australia, the open government efforts to date and the roadmap for open government looking ahead, including some of the challenges and opportunities facing us in this space. The Action Plan must take into account the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism which objectively measures success in this space. This Action Plan will be created in a transparent and open way by a cross agency working group that reports publicly on a regular basis. We intend to engage civil society, NGOs and industry strongly in the process.

Practical examples of what this Action Plan might entail includes looking at open data, parliamentary transparency, online engagement, policy co-production, public reporting on government activities, and public service professionalism.

OGP Action Plans are expected to cover a two-year period, with governments reporting on progress on an annual basis. We look forward to working collaboratively across agencies, governments, industry and the broader community to get the most beneficial and effective possible open government action plan for Australia.

The Minister's media release is available here.

Comments (17)

Hi Pia, there is a video on Dept of Broadband where I outline the future of Digital Economy and Metagov. Also on Vimeo, iTunes and YouTube are some others. I also have a tonne of slides with step by step movement through from "campaign" based participation to full "collab" on my site, on Flickr and Google Plus with blog posts to describe the Frameworks. Slides on Slideshare from my many presentations and workshops over the years to Gov here and overseas. Almost all are frameworks with step by step engagement for Gov. Most of my frameworks build around changes required for Education, Social Agency, Peer economies, Regulations and Big Data. I've worked with Privacy Commission on educating across the board gov on open gov and dealt with many of the issues as we move to Global Village.
I particularly focus in on Gov as Platform not Service. Most of the solutions I recommend arise from enabling social agency across the community and developing educational imperatives to ensure efficacy there. Fundamental to that is relinquishing control which Australian Gov is not ready for, yet will lose sooner or later.
Anyway, I'm writing on the impact of social banking on small business in other countries, so, do we have a social banking strategy yet or not? I shall make one up, if not :)

Not to rain on everyone's parade but Gov 2.0 was soooo 2008. Web 3.0 presents the bigger challenges. For example, USA, UK and other govs are releasing hold on digital economy and banking regulations to allow equity crowdsourcing. Australia? nada. Making a declaration is one thing - but 5 years too late and focussing on making a plan to catch up is sheer negligence.
Representational democracy and bloated bureaucracy are at an end. Bring on metagovernment!

Hi Pia, Web 2.0 is social media and the social web. Gov 2.0 is participatory/social gov. I am talking beyond 2.0 into Web 3.0 and Big Data, Semantic and NON social media (I didn't mention social media did I?). We have moved past the point of participatory government (Gov2) into ambient, intelligent algorithm government (Gov 3.0). Social is dead, long live the Matrix. The terms mean something, all terms inherently are made up but we have to understand their context.
Your mileage may vary ;) YMMV.
BTW I fail to see how social banking and peer to peer equity can be dismissed as "social media". Clearly a 100million pounds in peer banking invested to release liquidity in the UK by UK Gov is a big shift in p2p economies. Dept of Finance and Dereg isn't even close to dealing with these kind of shifts - they are still working out how to get comments on blogs! USA SEC laws are changing around social banking as well - see JOBS act. We don't have anything in this space do we? I'd love to know because even SocietyOne isn't a p2p bank in the way we mean. Once banking is broken in the same way media is broken, Gov has a much bigger issue on their hands than comments on #Auspol and trolling on Twitter.

I do run workshops here and overseas on how Gov can shift FROM providing products and services with feedback from participants TO metagovernment and Gov providing platforms instead. I'll let you know the next public one ;)
<3 Laurel @SilkCharm
PS to everyone else: One should always keep a dose of salt handy when reading my ramblings. You have been warned :)

It is good that the Australian Commonwealth Government has committed to this initiative. Hopefully this commitment will be demonstrated through the government's actions in the future.

The Open Government Partnership is an initiative that seeks commitments and action from national governments. Yet in Australia's federal system some significant policy areas are largely the responsibility of the states. Will the Commonwealth Government be working with the states to implement open government policies at the state level?

A significant impediment to open government at the state level is the failure of most state governments to fund the archiving of state government records. This issue was raised by historian, Lisa Murray, at the recent TEDX Sydney event. She also wrote an opinion article about this issue in the Sydney Morning Herald - Today's records are tomorrow's history, published 12/5/2013.

Governments are failing to implement open government principles if they don't even store the data they generate in the first place. In terms of the Open Government Partnership governments which don't preserve their data are failing to be transparent, effective and accountable.

No problem - and I wasn't playing semantics. Just pointing out that internationally we are falling far behind in our adoption of Future Gov. Dangerously so. I don't believe in patting everyone on the back and saying "well done" when the mere basics are still to be covered. "The wheels of Gov turn slowly" is not a good refrain from Gov that continually uses that excuse for NOT fulfilling it's mandate to the people. But you and I both know that anyone that criticises is 'just a troublemaker' & not being suitably "positive" so I will back out now. Cheers. Laurel xx

While there are many things that could be considered stemming from Australia's joining the OGP. Realistically, when determining what should be in Australia’s Action Plan, there isn’t much need to look much further than where other governments have already committed and to adjust what we are already doing, such as:
•Mandatory application of CC By Attribution licences (or an Australian Open Government licence) on all agency websites/publications
•Funding of the OAIC at a level that enables it to carry out all its current and future responsibilities
•Creation of an E-petition system – which bind governments to discuss issues when targets have been met
•Require all agencies to develop and implement their own Open Government Plans
•Remove all CAC agency opt-outs for all information based initiatives
•Develop a public platform where all major strategies or initiatives created by agencies must be posted for public consultation before they can be implemented
•Develop systems or tools that enable sharing of information between government agencies. For example, provide the ability to interrogate the RM systems of other agencies
•Creation of a secure platform where APS staff may ‘whistle blow’ on any possibly corrupt, unethical, wasteful or other practice that undermines the APS and its responsibilities

These may not be revolutionary options, but they are steps, which can be integrated into the required achievable 2 year goals.

This is encouraging news. I can't wait to see some of the fruits of this endeavour — or at least hear about their plans. For example, there is a wealth of addressing data that can't be accessed without going through resellers ( Imagine how making that data freely and easily available would be a boon to online e-commerce applications in Australia (data validation, etc.), and possibly worth so much more once anyone that can write code can immediately use it to innovate. Even just getting a definitive and current list of localities and postcodes comes with a legal ball-and-chain ( for commercial applications.

... rising above the Canberra-centric and APS-centric rhetoric here is a specific suggestion for the OGP Action Plan.
1. The Action plan must be inclusive. It takes the collective and collaborative actions of all Australian governments, people, industry partners and the community to activate and benefit from OG. Realising Open Government for Australia is not driven or even led by a single Government or entity. The OGPAP must embrace and recognise the full breadth of actions and activities Dept's & agencies, local and state and federal governments are independently and collectively achieving outside of AGIMO and outside of Canberra.

not unsurprising that that AGIMO has finally join the OGP .. afterall Senate Estimates is just around the corner.

HI Geoff, I too have half the screen chopped off. The presentation is part of Talking Heads series and it's me and Keith Besgrove talking the Future of Gov. Let me know if you can't find it and I'll email Keith for a copy. I also spoke at Gov 3.0 and my speech was recorded by Lateline ABC - it will be on their YouTube channel (I know as I nicked part of it for my speakers reel). I have run 1 and 2 day classes for Dept of Finance (do you work with Pia?) and they have my frameworks - 9 steps of a strategy, 5 steps of campaign, 7 steps of engagement, 22 shifts in revenue in digital economy etc. in the last 8 years I have presented the frameworks for future gov at around 30 separate gov events, so I'm shocked you can't find them - thought everyone would be bored with them by now ;) Cheers Laurel

Dear Fat Controller/Comptroller,(Pia),

I must remember to get you a new cap and flag:) (That was good John).
Re: OGP. Thought you might be interested in this one.

Things seem to be moving along nicely. Just one thing, as yu know now we have Digital First in Oz, and Digital by Default in the UK, there will be natural parrallels.

One thing you will be workin on is the comms side, and how to bring together the peer/community talk from similar fed, state and local govs and the (research) community. So this may be useful. I've been told there are informal arrangements between feds and state (& local?) comms people, and obviously govdex has been one attempt at openin the channels up between them.

I do hope we might have some discussion about the specs for this network before we go much further. It will prove to be useful so long as we don't have a thousand versions. You'll find quite a few templates around the global traps. e.g. This is one OGP platform. Would be nice to have an Aussie version though; interoperablw with OGP peers' platforms of course.

ok here's just 1

No. After 15 years I take for granted links are a way of saving talk. Here's just 1

Actually Simon, the spam filter assumed that a comment with 9 links in it was highly likely to be spam so trapped it deliberately. Additionally, having allowed about a minute between making the comment and then chasing it up and then only a further three minutes between that and accusing the sytstem of eating your work may suggest you need to better manage your expectations of our work.

Might I suggest that if you don't want to be caught in the spam trap as regularly as you are that you use less links?



That's nice to see.
Just rummaging around, seeing it's their project.

So it seems they have some decent threads, and some resources, like webinars, some of which come out of the World bank institute. So i guess this will make the OGP members part of this little network.

I see Global intergrity, who support the webinars, have a little platform (indaba) they've been working on, (Hasn't everyone?) and want to improve. That's OK.

Can I bring one thing up here, as the yankee approach is OK, but it's a little different across the Atlantic, where we already have a big team doing the cross border coordination, and a project.

Now R&E is a far more important part of government than just the law/policy making, and Oz already has a basic agreement in place. Australia has a place here, if it wants to be an honest broker between the new world and old.

That said, this is their latest platform. (Pretty aweful really), and their webinars can be found here.

Mind you, I don't think there's a Inter-National strategy between any of the members. Just activity, and IRM (if anyone could define how it works). With the engineers on the National national research networks it's much the same. Difference is they understand I&C (i.e network) Technologies and don't want to know about politics, while for politicos it's the exact opposite.

Takes time, and effort, to change paradigms. But so long as we are civil it should be fun. (Loved govcamp, thanks to all)


OK, so it just ate 2 hours work, thank you

Reading through the comments, it seems this discussion has shifted topics. Bringing it back to the original article, I'm pleased to see our government has made this partnership. We've seen some great projects take off (some created by individuals) where data sets have been made publicly available. I'm interested to see what opportunities this partnership can bring. Progress is progress and I'll take it at whatever rate it comes!

Last updated: 27 June 2014