Australian Open Government National Action Plan – Public Information Session

– [Ryan] I'd just liketo begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land in which we meet today,and paying my respects to the elders, past and present.

I also just want to pointout, if you haven't noticed, that we do have a camerahere filming today.

It will pick up the question and answers, question and answers session as well.

If there's anythingthat you'd prefer to ask in private at all, feelfree to come up to me after the session and I'mhappy to spend some time having a chat with you.

Alrighty, my name's Ryan Black, I head up the OpenGovernment Partnership Team in the Department of PrimeMinister and Cabinet.

I've also got Kat Szuminskahere with me today, from the Open Australia Foundation.

Kat is one of the stakeholders been working with us onour interim working group which I'll talk about shortly.

And, Kat, feel free to jump inany time during the session, and add anything to what I've got to say.

Also just like to thankthe National Archives for providing the venue here today.

Alrighty, so today I'mjust gonna talk through, a little bit before wejump into talking about the Open Government National Action Plan, I just want to talk througha bit of the background to the Open Government Partnership, Australia's process to date,and how we got to this point with releasing our NationalAction Plan last week, for consultation and also, and then I'll just take you through the National Action Plan itself and step through each of the commitments, give you a bit of a briefoverview, and then we'll have a question and answer session at the end.

Alright, so the OpenGovernment Partnership.

So this is a multilateral initiative that was launched in 2011by the Heads of State of eight founding governments.

US President Obama, and former UK PrimeMinister David Cameron, were two of the chief instigators, and a range of other countries,of course, were involved.

It's now grown to 70participating countries worldwide, of which Australiaformally joined last year, and I'll talk about that in a sec.

The aims and goals of theOpen Government Partnership are to secure concretecommitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, andharness new technologies to strengthen governance.

So it's become a member of theOpen Government Partnership, participating countries have to meet a certain minimum standard for, there's a set of criteria,around freedom of information and a whole range of otherthings that governments have to be in place before governmentsthey can become a member.

They also have to endorse anopen government declaration, which was established by theOpen Government Partnership, deliver a country actionplan every two years.

So this is our first action plan, and then we'll be on twoyearly cycle from now on.

And we also have to committo independent reporting on progress going forward.

We'll talk about that towardsthe end of the session.

In terms of it's structure, the Open Government Partnership's overseen by a steering committee, the membership of that steering committee is comprised of both governments, member governments of theOpen Government Partnership, and also civil society members as well.

So it's a joint government-civilsociety steering committee.

That membership rotates, I think, on a two or three yearly basis, Kat? I think about two yearly basis, great.

And France is actuallythe current President of the Open Government Partnership, and they'll be hosting a global summit in Paris later this year.

Was there anything elseyou wanted to add to that, Kat, before I jump on? – [Kat] No, I guess youcould mention the other, in that eligibility criteria, include financial transparency, and disclosures that arerelated to integrity as well.

– [Ryan] Great.

– [Man In Audience] Question,what was the Australian involvement in the gensis of this? – [Ryan] Um, no, I don't have the list of the eight governmentswith me at the moment, but Australia wasn't oneof the eight founding.

Craig looks like he's (laughs) got them off the top of his head.

– [Man] But even if weweren't part of the eight, we might have had peopleinvolved that, maybe we did.

– [Craig] We did nothave people involved, no.

– [Ryan] We 're really getting involved, sorry, go ahead, Craig.

– [Craig] We've hadpeople advocating for it since before it started, but there's been no official involvement.

– [Man] Right.

– [Ryan] Great, well — – [Man] Can I just ask — – [Ryan] Yeah, certainly.

– [Man] Are we a member yet,or will we not become a member until our first plan's been accepted? – [Ryan] No, we are amember, and as a member, we've got a requirementto deliver our first plan.

– [Man] Right, I know,but some governments have had their first plan knocked back.

– [Ryan] Not knocked back, I think that, the partnership itself don't actually knock backplans, as such, there is the independent reportingmechanism which reviews plans, looks at their quality, andprovides recommendations on how they can be improved in the future, but it doesn't actually assesswhether a plan's adequate, the Open GovernmentPartnership doesn't, sort of, take off whether a plan'sadequate or not adequate, and sort of knock backcountries on that basis.

– [Man] So I had the view that there was apeer-review process that — – [Ryan] That's correct.

– [Man] That examines this,and then made comments on the plan and might sendthe Australian plan back if it wasn't deemed adequate by the peers.

– [Ryan] It doesn't get sent back, but there are recommendationsfor improvement.

They need to be taken onboard in the development of the next action plan,so there are requirements around that the OpenGovernment Partnership has, and then, I guess, if countriesdon't take that on board, then there is, they havewhat's called a response policy and there're complaints that can be made, and it's sets in train a range of motions, but essentially there's nosort of formal approval process from the Open GovernmentPartnership, for an action plan.

Great, right, we might move on.

Just wanna talk a little bit about Australia's processto finalize it's membership.

So what you can't see on thisscreen here at the moment, is that the formal government wrote to the Open Government Partnership in 2013 with a Letter of Intent forAustralia to become a member of the Open Government Partnership, but it wasn't untilPrime Minister Turnbull wrote to the Open Government Partnership in November last yearconfirming our membership that we set in train thedevelopment of our first national action plan.

So we're essentially now inthe third phase of consultation on the development of the action plan, so there was a largerphase of consultation from November last yearuntil April this year, with a range of public meetingsheld around the country.

There was also a formal submission process to seek ideas for potentialcommitments to go into the plan, and that culminated in astakeholder workshop here in Canberra where government workers and civil society members to prioritize and work up potentialcommitments for the plan, and that informed what went into the plan that was released last week.

– [Woman] Will you go into who civil — – [Ryan] Who civil society is, and who the civil society members are? So civil society for theOpen Government Partnership, civil society is a very broad term.

I know that it's quite anunusual term in Australia, I think it's really made it's way into the national lexicon,it's becoming more common.

For the Open GovernmentPartnership, they take a very broad, view about what civil society means, so they, sort of, anyorganization or individual outside of government essentiallyis, so business, academia, non-government organizations,the general public, that's the view of civil society.

There are other definitionsof civil society which is sort of a more narrow, just non-governmentalorganizations, representing the views of the community, so there are differentperspectives and views on what it means, but theOpen Government Partnership's support unit tells us thatthey take a very broad, broad view of what it means.

So we, ah yes, there wasthat workshop in Canberra.

We then went into the caretaker period, in the federal election,coming out of that, we essentially kicked off the development, the establishment of aninternal working group where we got senior government officials and we had an open application process for civil society members to become part of this interim working group as well.

It's essentially operated like a stakeholder reference group, to help inform the development of the national action plan,so we worked with that group, and Kat was part of that group.

We worked with that group to identify what were the prioritiesthat we want to cover in this first action plan.

And then we talked through the data of what those commitments would look like.

So we're now off to thethird and final phase, we've opened up, releasedto draft action plan for a final round of public consultation before we finalize it and submit it to the Open Government Partnershipbefore the end of this year.

Great.

So here are a few photos of the interim working group in action.

The top right hand cornerthere, we held a workshop with the interim workinggroup in Sydney last month, and Minister Angus Taylor came along and spoke to the groupabout the group's priorities and it's work.

So as I mentioned before,the interim working group, the way it works, governmentessentially came to the group with identifying broadpriorities based on the ideas that have come forwardfrom past consultations.

The interim working group then discussed and prioritized those commitments, and civil society membersalso raised other proposals for other further exploration.

And some of those madetheir way into the plan.

So it was really greathaving the non-government stakeholders within the room to really push government officials on a whole range of different areas.

And I think you can it certainly resulted in a different plan released last week than would've otherwise been the case, if it was just governmentofficials working within the room.

Kat, did you wanna add anything else, any of your thoughts on theinterim working group at all, before I move on? – [Kat] As you described,it was a reference group, and I think that where we got to, was, if you don't mindme talking about that, towards the end of June was supposed to be when we were going tosubmit the plan originally, and I think there was, we all felt, or a number of us felt thatit was a little bit rushed, the whole process, andthe workshop in Canberra was really quite difficultto get over 200 ideas whittled down to a smallernumber of commitments, and we really feltquite a bit of pressure, on that workshop itself.

Where we came out of theelection cycle, again, and there was a refresh, that seemed like a really positive move, and it was a much moresolid way to move forward, because we did have senior people, there weren't very many seniorpeople involved in the room in the previous workshops, so we felt like we wereflying a bit blind, didn't know what was gonna go in and whether something wouldcome out the other side, but when you got seniorpeople in the room, looking at stuff with you, then you know, there's a greater chanceof something flying it it's made it into theroom in the first place.

So that was really good, is it the most ambitious thingthat could've been there? On the date, perhaps it is, and it being and intensiveprocess, I think is the thing that's really exciting about this.

I mean, you talk about,it's a two year cycle, it's every two years we get to go, well, this is really good, let's do this, it workedbetter, and next time.

And ideally we have equal partners in government and civil society,and it doesn't begin there, but it moves it, so.

With that evidence, I thinkit's a really positive process, and it feels like the beginning of that.

Does that answer the question? – [Ryan] Absolutely, andthat's really good point, the iterative process.

That allows us to look at both the process to develop the plan itself, so that the quality ofthe public consultation that we undertake, howwe engage with people (beep) in the development of the plan, and also the plan itself andwhat comes out at the end, and the commitments that we deliver.

We get a chance every two years to look at improving and buildingon what we've developed, and what we deliver this year.

Alrighty, so I'll stoptalking about the action plan.

So, we're already startingfrom a relatively high base, I think, globally, comparedto a lot of other countries, in terms of Australia'shistory and open government.

We see this first actionplan as an opportunity to build on that foundation.

The aim of this firstplan is really to improve and build confidence inAustralian institutions, both within and outside of government, and also to strengthen our democracy by upholding the principles outlined in the Open Government declaration, and they're outlined here on the slide.

One thing I just want to say is that open governmentis a very broad term, and the Open Government Partnership takes a very broad perspectiveabout what open government is.

So, I talked earlier,we've got transparency, accountability, public participation, and technological innovation, which covers things like open data and digital transformation.

And we've taken a verybroad scope to the plan because of that as well.

You'll see, we handed outsome fact sheets here today.

We've got five themes, with14 different commitments, and I'll step through each of those in turn in a second.

One thing I do want to say about the plan is that the commitments in the plan are relatively high level.

A lot of the detail isstill to be worked through over the next two years asthese things are implemented.

And you'll notice in the plan that a lot of them have a further period of public consultation built into them.

So this isn't the be all and end all of the public consultationof a lot of the commitments in the plan, there will befurther consultation processes that'll follow up and follow on from here.

Alrighty, we'll get onwith the first thing, that's transparency andaccountability in business.

And our first commitment here is improve whistle-blower protection in the tax and corporate sectors.

So public sector whistle-blowers already have quite a lot ofsignificant protections under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which introduced in 2013.

I think in Australia it'srecognized that employees in the corporate sectordon't have those same level of protections, and thatcan really stop people from coming forward andreporting misconduct, from reporting corruption, fromreporting illegal behavior, so what we're proposinghere, we've got two elements to this commitment, soin this year's budget, the government announcedthink it would introduce strengthened whistle-blower protections for people who report tax misconduct to the Australian taxation office, so we're trying to usethis plan as the vehicle to take that forward, andwe've outlined in the plan, some milestones aroundwe're going to deliver that, and up into deliveringlegislation toward the end of next year.

We've also got another part to this, and that's about strengthening protections within the corporate sector more broadly.

So the plan commitmentsto consulting on options to harmonize whistle-blower protections in the corporate sector withthose in the public sector.

And that's quite asignificant step forward.

Second commitment here is around beneficial ownership register.

For those who aren'tfamiliar with the concept, beneficial ownershipregister shows who ultimately benefits from the activities of companies.

So this can help combat tax avoidance and other fraudulent conducts by making it harder for companiesto use complex financial arrangements, or shellcompanies, or front men to essentially to hiderevenues and other conduct.

So the UK Anti-CorruptionSummit this year in May, the government announced itwould be consulting publicly on options for a beneficialownership register for companies and beneficialownership is also quite a, it's a key priority for the G20, there's a lot of work goingon there through the G20 beneficial ownershipacross all those countries.

So the action plan goes astep further and sets out that were going to consult and try to set all the details' scope and implementation of what abeneficial ownership register would look like in Australia.

And there'll berecommendations coming forward to government aroundthe middle of next year.

Finally, we've got a commitment here on natural resource transparency.

This is all about what's calledthe extractive industry's transparency initiative.

Australia's committed to, thegovernment announced earlier this year that it would join u to the extractive industry'stransparency initiative.

It's essentially allabout, requiring countries to be transparent and to reporton both government revenues and company payments from theoil, gas, and mining sectors.

Australia's been a really bigsupporter of this initiative, since its inception, particularlyin its implementation in developing countries,resource-rich developing countries over seas, where thereare a lot of issues around transparency and corruption in the mining and oil and gas sectors.

There has been a bit of apilot that was undertaken here from 2011 to 2014 testing howwe could apply the initiative within Australia, so now through the plan, we're looking, taking thatforward into achieving compliance with the initiative.

Alrighty.

Our second thing is open dataand digital transformation.

This is obviously a significantpriority for the government.

Already there's beenquite a lot of progress, so just a little fun fact,since 2013, the number of discoverable resources on data.

Gov.

Au, has increased from around500 to over 20,000.

So there's been quite a lot of progress in a short period of time.

And that really gives opportunitiesfor the public sector, but also the private sector, academia, and the not-for-profit sector to innovate and extract quite a lot of value from this government-held data.

And when I talk about value, I'm not just talking about economic value, I'm also talking about social value, and that's something thatthe not-for-profit sector really emphasizes with us as well.

– [Woman] Do going to do anorder of the data sets available or the data that's held inthe government so that — – [Ryan] Caroline, do youwant to speak to that, has there been an audit so far? – [Caroline] It's obviouslybeen considered, I don't think there's been a firmdecision made at this stage.

I think the reason behind it,is as soon as you do an audit, it is a resource that is out dated, but it's certainly beingconsidered in government, and I'm not quite sure of the actual — – [Woman] We keep being asked, you know, what is the academic demand for data, for government data, and its that we've known it's available — – [Ryan] Yeah.

– [Woman] I think it's a question of knowing what's there, is.

– [Ryan] It's hard to, yes.

Yeah, and that's a reallygood point, absolutely.

And that sorta goes as wellto our first commitment and the plan here, andthis is all about taking this agenda a step forward.

So we've got a commitment and this is about taking forward thegovernment's election commitment to identify and releasehigh value data sets and through the plan,what we're trying to do is try to do that in a collaborative way, with the academic, withthe research sector, with the private sector, andwith the not-for-profit sector, so there's a whole range of round tables that we're looking at holding.

And I think there may have actually been, potentially, one already held, with the not-for-profit sector.

So there's a whole range of round tables that we're looking atholding to try to identify what is a high-value data set look like, and what should we beprioritizing our resources on within government in terms of open data to make sure that thedata that we're releasing is actually the data that people want.

– [Woman] And in the format that — – [Ryan] And in the formatthat people want, absolutely.

Because high-value data setsno necessarily just about the data that's released,it's also about the quality of the data that's released.

Absolutely, and making it usable.

Yes? (man speaks softly) Try to make it a bit morestandardized across — (man speaks softly) yeah, absolutely, that'sa really good point, and Caroline, is there anythingyou'd like to speak to, – [Caroline] There is — – [Ryan] Carloyn's my daughter,expect here as well (laughs) – [Caroline] Somethingto undertake in order to, standards in a Commonwealth at the moment, I think on the fly in this case, I'm not quite sure where we'reup to on the data standards, but we can certainlycheck to our colleagues in the public databaseand come back to you — – [Ryan] That's a great point, though.

– [Man] I'm from the AC government, and we sort of follow someof these national things — – Sure.

– Yep.

– [Man] I've been in the UK where I've heard verygood things about data so, they actually standardizedall the data collection across local government, so that everybody reports tothe same codes in central — – [Ryan] Yep.

– [Man] So it's garbagecollection, it's got a code, no such things been done in Australia, it's absolute chaos outthere and that means that every local council'sgot different software that talks about the same things in different kinds of ways — – [Ryan] Yep.

– [Man] In economies ofscale, and obviously we know, clearer reporting or anything like that.

– [Ryan] Yep, that's a great point, and definitely something we can look out.

On thing that I did want topoint out with this plan, as well, is that, sort of what we'd spoke about at this side, it is an iterative process,so where we're starting now isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all of what we're going to do in this space.

That's a fantastic point,and I think it's something that probably needs to be, it sounds like, there needs to be quitea lot of work around, certainly if you'relooking at standards — – [Man] Well I think itmight be commitment 3.

4 or something, you could sayit was a subpoint of 2.

3, but I think it's sufficientlyimportant to identify.

And the goal to be fair, hasdone some good work here, our standards for recordingthat to make an example of what I'm talkingabout, across government, I think it's something like20,000 different reporting codes for ultimately, it was foundout to be, a few hundred actual things that need tobe reported on to government, that was a process that treasurytook a number of years ago, – [Ryan] Yep, absolutely, Ithink that's a great suggestion, thank you very much for that.

Kat, did you want to say something? – [Kat] Yeah, I'd also saythat you don't actually have to work for thefederal government to do it.

You can do it at the stateand territory level as well.

The OGP also has sub-nationalprograms coming up, so you could also submitto do a sub-national pilot and take the lead in this,and then proliferate that from a sort of more peer-to-peer basis rather than telling the federal government that they got to tell you what to do and then they'll probablytell you what to do in a way that you probablydon't want to do it, so.

– [Woman] And a lot ofthe state governments have insisted thatdiscovery, that their data is discovery metadataand the ends extended so that's inturruptable across, so you can discover what's there, what happens once you getthere is a different thing, but at least you candiscover what's there — – [Ryan] I'll just take onemore question before you — – [Craig] I just wanna make a quick point, this is the nationalgovernment's actual action plan, so while we can definitely put in things that actually relate tostate and local government, the federal governmentis continuing on making standards it has in place to work with state and local governments, so it can't make commitmentsfrom other layers of government through this plan, it can onlymake commitments for itself, and what it can influence, and that's an importantcharacteristic when it comes to dealing with data setscollected by local government which are state government organizations, under the control ofthe federal government.

– [Woman] Yeah, that's areally good point, Craig, and we'll see a little bit later on how freedom of information, there's an example comingup of how other levels of government are working together to bring something intothe National Action Plan, so that might be something that goes into the next National Action Planif there isn't an obvious way to do it here.

– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely,thanks for asking that, Craig.

Alrighty, our second commitmenthere is around building and maintaining publictrust to address concerns about data sharing.

And this is something, it's quite topical, and it's really all about trying to better understandcommunity concerns about data and the open data agenda, andto ensure within government that we have the capabilities in place, there's been issues aroundprivacy and personal information, so it's all aboutbuilding that capability, about starting, improvingthat conversation with the community, and reallybuilding on a lot of those, the privacy aspects that really underpin the open data agenda.

Alrighty, and our final commitment there is we're gonna digitally transform the delivery of government services.

So this is building on thegovernments existing agenda.

There was a recently announced that the government is establishing a digital transformationagency, which is replacing the digital transformation office.

And this response delayedthe online transformation of government services,making services easier for the public to interact with, making them more accessible.

And the National ActionPlan's reinforcing this agenda by advancing the government'selection commitments to develop a digitaltransformation roadmap, which will set out thepriorities and time frames for taking this agenda forward.

And also establishing public dashboards, which will provide transparency around the performance of government services.

– [Woman] Are you workingon data 61 on that? – [Ryan] That one's for thedigital transformation agency, I think that data 61, Carolineyou'll have to remind me, has been evolved, yep.

Great.

Alright, our third thinghere is around access to government information.

And the key commitmenthere is around information management and accesslaws for the 21st century.

So this is all about looking at reforming the legislative framework for managing and accessing government information, so I'm talking about theFreedom of Information Act, the Archives Act, and to alesser extent, the Privacy Act.

That legislative frameworkhas been largely untouched since the 1980s whengovernment really operated in a paper-based environment.

What we're looking at here, and what we're aiming to do, is to move to a simplerand more coherent framework that better reflects the digital era that we're working in today.

This is a project that will be undertaken by the attorney general's department, and is complemented by a coupleof other commitments here in information space, it's oneroute to better understanding how the public's alreadyusing Freedom of Information laws across the country.

So this one's actuallyabout the Commonwealth working with the states and territories to develop better and moreuniform data and information around how the public's already utilizing those Freedom of Information laws.

And that essentially helpsus provide a baseline, it allows us to compareacross jurisdictions, how those laws are operating.

It could also help uscompare internationally how we're comparing ourFreedom of Information laws and their effectiveness in comparing to other countries over seas.

We've also got a commitment here around improving thediscoverability and accessibility of government data and information.

This is about, all aboutbeing more proactive in the way the governmentmakes information available online.

So there's a whole rangeof different information that we're making to lookmore accessible online, from grants information togrants the government awards, but also upcoming grantsapplication processes, corporate and annualreports and being able to better compare themacross different departments.

Archived records, so the work that the national archives is taking here, progressing that to digitizegovernment archived records.

And also the data.

Gov.

Au, whichis the central data portal for the Commonwealth, makingthat easier and more accessible for people to use.

– [Woman] When you say grants, do you include NRC and ARC in that? – [Ryan] I'd have to double check that, but my understandingis that it encompasses all grant processes across government, and that one's actually being led by the department of finance.

Great.

Alright, our fourth thing here is integrity in the public sector, is obviously somethingthat's very topical.

And it's criticallyimportant to the functioning of our democracy.

So we're kinda clear here about confidence in the electoral systemand political parties, and this is something where we know that there are concerns in the community about some aspects of the system, such as political donations,and change requires, change here really requires the involvement of the parliament.

So what the government's done is ask the joint standing committeeon electoral matters, which is one of the committeeswithin the parliament, to consider arranging that as relating to the conduct of the 2016 election, to the use of technology in elections, and to the framework ofdonations to political parties and other political entities.

So that review, that inquiryis under way at the moment in the parliament, and as noted in the draft section plan, the government willconsider the recommendations of that committee before proposing reforms in that area.

So obviously that committee, operates to its own time frame, it is a committee of the parliament, but we're expecting, I think a report, sometime next year.

We've got a commitment here on the national integrity framework.

So this is all aroundhow do we manage conduct, how do we make sure we'reoperating to a high standard of conduct within government,and to avoid issues of corruption.

So the government's takena multi-agency approach to combating corruption, that involves a range ofdifferent agencies and functions.

So we've got the Australia Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, and for example, theAustralian Federal Police's Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre.

So what we've committed to, is to continue strengtheningof that system, and to ensure that where thejurisdiction and capabilities of those agencies need tobe extended, they can be.

It also includes work within the attorney general's department to review laws applyingto foreign bribery, and also to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing.

Finally the other commitmenthere is open contracting.

This is about being,government being transparent around how tax payers'money is being used, in procurement and contracting of government services and projects.

And while we already havequite a lot of transparency through the AusTender website, which is managed throughthe department of finance.

What the government's proposing to do here is publicly review our compliance with the open contracting data standard, which is seen as theinternational benchmark for transparency aroundgovernment contracting.

– [Man] So what is the standard, how was it formed? – [Ryan] How was it formed? It's an international standard.

It was, I think there'ssome information in the plan about it, but it is aninternational standard, it's been around fora couple of years now, I understand, Caroline? Yes? And there's a whole rangeof governments worldwide that have now signed up to it, to meeting that standard.

There are different levels within it, that you can meet, sothere's different sort of, there's a hierarchy withinthe standard itself.

What we're looking todo is sort of compare, sort of, how our current system looks against those different levelswithin the standard itself.

Great.

And our final thing here is around publicparticipation and engagement.

So we got two commitmentshere, one's around the delivery of our action plan, and continuing the closeengagement that we've had through this action plan,through the development of this action plan and building on it, so what we're keen to do is to establish a permanent,multi-stakeholder forum, to engage with civil societyin the implementation of this action plan andalso the development of future action plans.

So as I mentioned earlier,we do have an interim group at the moment, but it is justthat, it's an interim group.

What we're wanting to do is establish something more permanent going forward.

And we've got a mechanismwithin a group to consult with civil society but alsolook at other, sort of, mechanisms to engage morebroadly with the public.

You know, there's a wholerange of suggestions that've come through inthese public meetings, so far and around online forms,more face to face conduct around the country, moreface to face contact around the country, andthose are things we'll definitely look at.

We've also got a commitmenthere around enhancing public participation in governmentdecision making more broadly.

And this's absolutely critical for improving policy developmentand service delivery.

It's something that successivereviews have highlighted there's quite a lot of scope for the Commonwealth to improve on.

So the draft planningcommits us to establishing a new whole government frameworkfor public participation in Commonwealth policymaking, service delivery, and decision making.

So that framework couldinclude principles, guidance for departments,and it's gonna be looking at, what's already happeningwithin the Commonwealth, what's happening overseas, and what's happening within the jurisdictions,looking at drawing out some of those elements and bestpractice in piloting them across the Commonwealth.

We know that there'sa lot of opportunities that are engaging digitally,there's a whole range of exciting thingshappening within the states that I'm aware of but alsooverseas around crowd-sourcing within government,crowd-sourcing for policy making, and those sorts of things.

Citizen juries and allsorts of things (laughs).

– [Woman] That's very ambitious.

– [Ryan] Yes.

So that work will be ledby the industry portfolio, but it's not limited to an industry focus, it is taking the whole government focus and looking more broadly about how the Commonwealth engageswith citizens more broadly.

– [Man] Not just in relationto this action plan.

– [Ryan] Not just inrelation to this action plan, so we do have the commitmentaround how do with engage in relation to this actionplan and future action plans.

This one is more broadlyabout how we consult and engage across thewhole spectrum of issues that we deal with atthe Commonwealth level.

– [Man] So has there beenanything written about that, or this work to be done? – [Ryan] So there is thecommitment in the plan, that's what we've got so far, there's still quite a lot ofwork to be done around that, a lot of other jurisdictions,as I mentioned, have established processes and policies around how they consult.

The Commonwealth doesn't really have that, departments have their ownapproaches to how they engage and consult with the public, and obviously there's, different circumstancescall for different levels and forms of public consultation.

But what we're looking for is to try to lift the quality of how wedo that across the service.

– [Man] Have you done a reviewof what other countries do? – [Ryan] No, I thinkthat's the first milestone within the plan, sothat'll sort of kick off, a bit of benchmarkingaround both where we're at, both at the Commonwealth level, but also what other jurisdictionsand countries are doing.

That'll form a basis for looking at, well, what do we wanna do andhow do we wanna take forward, what do we want to take forward, and how do we want to operateat the Commonwealth level.

– [Woman] You sound like you might have some ideas around that.

– [Man] No, I don't, but our Chief Minister wants to do this.

– [Ryan] Great.

Yeah, absolutely, and like Isaid, I know that there's a lot of other jurisdictionsalready doing similar work in this space, so SouthAustralia, and new South Wales, I think Victoria, have alsodone quite a lot of work trying to develop sort ofnew and innovative ways of engaging with the public.

Great, we also haveanother part of the plan, which deals with Australia'sleadership internationally.

This reflects that we alreadyplay quite an important role in promoting more effective governance, both within the Indo-Pacific region but also globally.

In the, our participation in the OGP can really help us elevate this role and demonstrate good practice.

The plan itself will help, you know we've acknowledged in the plan that it helps support thedelivery in some aspects of the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development, particularly Goal 16 onPeaceful and Inclusive Society's Access to Justice andEffective Institutions.

What we've also committed to in the plan is endorsing the OpenGovernment Partnership's joint declaration on open government for the implementation of the 2030 agenda.

And that's all aboutcommitting to transparency, openness, and publicparticipation in our domestic and internationalimplementation of that agenda.

Oops, sorry, Carolyn, canyou just jump back quickly? (laughs) And while ourfirst National Action Plan focuses, it is very muchfocused on domestic initiatives, we'll continue to supportcountries in our region, to build institutionsthat promote stability, inclusive economicgrowth, poverty reduction, and gender equality.

Alrighty, just before we get to questions, I just wanna quickly talkthrough how we sort of move forward with the planand what our plans are for implementation and governance.

So the Minister of Finance,Senator Mathias Cormann, will be the minister responsible for coordinating implementationof this action plan.

And also for the government'son-going involvement in the Open Government Partnership.

He will be supported by theDepartment of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which willsort of retain the role Administrative Responsibilityfor this agenda, and we'll be supporting himand coordinating delivery across government, as I mentioned, this is a whole government action plan, as you've seen the action plan itself, those commitments, the 14commitments we've got in there are led by five or sixdepartments, I think, so there is a lot of the work to be done, to make sure to coordinate implementation and to ensure that there'seffective delivery.

There're also some requirementsfrom the OGP itself, around implementation, sothe government's required to produce a self-assessment report, both on the implementationof the action plan itself, and how we went about that, but also how we'reactually implementing it.

And then there's, each two year cycle, there's two independent reports on, as I've said, both how weactually develop the plan, and also how we're goingabout implementing them.

And as you've mentioned before, those plans will come out with recommendations for improvement and they're things withtry to take on board in future action plans.

Alrighty, so there's the information here on how you can make a formalsubmission to the process, but I might now just open up to sort of any further questions or comments.

Oops, yes, absolutely.

I'm just going to getthe mic going around, otherwise I'd be happyto have a chat to people after this session as well.

– [Woman] Hi there, my name's Beth Setra, I am sorry I was late, but you may have coveredthis at the beginning, you've been using the term we, you know, we'll do this and we'll do that, and I just wanna try and understand again, how this is being seen within the current total government.

Is this seen as a totalgovernment initiative, an Australian governmentinitiative with bipartisan support, a parliamentary, you know to what extent is it a joint civil societygovernment initiative? If you could just walk us through that, that'd be lovely.

– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely, so it is a government actionplan, an Australian government action plan, total government as you said.

Though it is a plan that we'vedeveloped in collaboration with civil society, soI did step through some of the consultation processes earlier.

So it is very much, that is a requirement of the Open Government Partnership, these action plans can't just be, sort of, government developed action plans, they have to reflect topriorities of the community as well as the prioritiesof the government.

What we've got in the action plan, commitments around improvingwhistle-blower protections, looking at reform options for Freedom of Information legislation, those sorts of thingsencompass all range of things, civil society have been calling for.

I can't comment on bipartisan support, I haven't seen any comments coming from the opposition at all.

When I use the term we, I think I was talking biggovernment but also civil society as well, because there willbe an on-going mechanism for engaging with civilsociety on the implementation of the action plan, so I think civil societywill play very strong role in monitoring how eachof these are rolling out and providing feedback to the government on how we can continue to improve that.

– [Woman] I know that Toby Gold's group they've got a lot of engagementwith the data champions in each of the governmentagencies and departments, are you working with thosedata champions as well? – [Ryan] On the development of the plan? – [Woman] And the secretaries.

– [Ryan] The actual plan,we hope to have sent up to the interdepartmental committee on the development of theplan, so there's a whole range of agencies, I think there's26 or do that've been involved as we've been developing the action plan, a lot of those agencies have said they have data championrepresentatives along to consultations andthey've been engaged, yeah, throughout the development, particularly with the open data thing.

– [Woman] But certainly with the, will be going through allthose government groups, the secretaries data group, and I think for particularlyfor the social license body of worth formaintaining public trust, they've been working veryclosely with all agencies.

– [Ryan] Yes? – [Man] Yes, I'd like tohear a bit about the process from here on, because youare inviting submissions, I'm sure you'll havesome strong submissions on various aspects, and Ihave strong views on one area, the involvement andengagement with civil society, which seems to me is very,very vaguely articulated in the current plan, andcould lead to all sorts of corruption by, forinstance, talking about a multi-stakeholder development forum, as I critic where governmenthas got to at the moment with the corporate sector,one could easily see that stakeholder, themulti-stakeholder issue being dominated by corporations.

So, how are you, how open areyou to modification of this, and how will the thingbe finally signed off? Is his cabinet going tofinally give it approval before it goes to OGP,or is it going to be more a process of theindependent group listening to what's said and sayingno, we agree with that or we disagree with that.

– [Ryan] So where we arewith governmental approval, from the Prime Ministerand Enrollment Ministers before it goes to the OpenGovernment Partnership, absolutely.

Obviously it went through that process before we released it forpublic consultation as well.

Just on the multi-stakeholderforum, though, just about you being concerned about it being dominated by corporations, at the interim working group,it was established that, we certainly don't have any intentions of doing anything like that.

With the interim working group, we've got representatives like Kat from the Open Australia Foundation, and Peter Timmins who's the head of the Open Government Partnership Civil Society Network, you know, Ken Coghill, who'sa former Speaker of the Victorian Parliament andmember of Monash University, and a whole range of other people as well, so the idea of leavingthat commitment high level within the plan is thatwe don't want to try to narrow down, I think there'sa lot of different views about that forum could look like.

If we narrow it down now,without consultation, I think that limits ouroptions going forward.

What we want to do is try tohave it be more of a discussion around what that forum could look like before we settle on the details.

So that's the only reason that its really in a huddle at the momentbecause we do know that, particularly within theCivil Society Network itself, there are a whole range of different views about what that should look like, so we don't want to try tonarrow it down too quickly, and we might continue theinterim working group, or another forum interimbefore we establish that, I think that we'll twist outthat early in the new year.

Does that make sense for you? – [Man] Yes, I think myquestion really relates to how genuinely is civilsociety going to look on this as being a response to their concerns, and to what extent arethey going say, again, the usual suspects, thegovernment agencies, the corporations gottogether and stuffed us.

– [Ryan] Well, I think ifyou have a look at the plan, where we've got to at the moment, look at the, walk into that workshop room, and I think that after thatthe Open Government Partnership Civil Society Network,which is a coalition of different civil societyorganizations across the country, for those whoaren't familiar with it, put out a manifesto with13 high-level commitments that they want to see in the plan.

And I think when I go back and have a look at that manifesto, and lookat what we've got in the plan at the moment, I thinkthe plan actually goes quite a long way to, do you want to say something as well, Kat? – [Kat] Just jumping in to clarify, that wasn't what we wanted, it was a call to words manifesto, because where it came fromwas the 200-odd submissions that came at thebeginning, so you would say that those were reflective of the people who input into thatprocess rather than saying that they were a reflectionof what civil society as a whole, should we know what that is, actually wanted, if that, there weren't, as far as I'maware, any big corporations in the room, there wasmore business people, and people who very muchcare about open governments, and who make that theirbusiness by working with open processes with government, but I'm not aware thatthere were any big interests in the room, I think the nearestthat you would probably get would be all of thepeople who are involved and publish what we pay, that includes a number ofquite large organizations in the extractives industry, and they've had quite a lot of buying from those companiesthat recognize the need for transparency in that area.

Anyone else that was therelike to answer that, Myron? – [Myron] I think whatcivil society would think of the plan is really upto civil society to answer rather than us in thegovernment to answer that, and I think that theviews will vary widely, as we've already seen vary widely.

The key thing, and I'm also involved with the Open Government Partnership Network, I'm on the steeringcommittee of that as well as an independent individual not linked to any organization, andI think that the key to it is to actually, if you wantto be involved in the process, get involved with the process, because it's there, it'svery very open and inclusive, anybody can come along and get involved, particularly from thenetwork, civil society side.

There are a few people thatare just sitting on the fence, and just basically saying,well, we're not going to get involved anything,we just want to criticize what comes out of the other end.

But that's not quite as useful and you're not going tohave as big an impact as if you actually get involvedthroughout the process.

– [Ryan] Any more questionsbefore we wrap up? (woman speaking) – Absolutely good question, so the government's very keen for a senior cabinetminister to lead the agenda.

The finance portfolio, obviously, has a whole range of interest, and this open governmenttakes responsibility for a range of things relatedto MP entitlements, etc, and to accountability and public service, so that's essentially why the Minister of Finance is leading, we wanted a senior minister to lead, but also a minister that has, as a Minister of Finance, he's a central agency minister as well, has a broad (cough) across government, and can drive things across government, that's why (cough), it's been supported by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet,for that same reason, you know, we have the abilityto really drive things, across government, this isa whole government agenda, if we were to situate it within, you know, there's a wholerange of different options, but if you were to situateit one individual portfolio that had responsibilityfor a particular component of the plan, there is arisk that it could be, sort of narrowed down to just focus on just a narrow set of issues.

Having it with a Cabinet minister, a senior cabinet ministerwith a broad range of things that, you know, we can take, continue to take that broad perspective of open government going forward.

Yes? – [Woman] I just wantedto raise one other issue, I was rather surprisedand a bit disappointed to see the language around corruption, it was very much framedas sort of stamping out, and fighting and that sort of language, it seems that the thinking behind that is corruption is a verytransactional issue to be dealt with as a criminal issue, but anybody who knows about corruption, knows it's a systemic issue,and it's the institutions and frequent, most usually,all the institutions that are inherent in theopen government partnership center around transparency,accountability, that actually address corruption, so in a nearer way, we're actually using, you know, a, red tape and actively providing the wherewithal for future corruption.

I think we just run the risk that the language is quite wrong there.

– [Ryan] That's a good point, that said, it wasn't the intention, – [Woman] Well, sorry to quiz you, but I just — – [Man] I'm reading the language, and I'm not seeing — – [Woman] Well, it was inthe detail of the plan.

– [Woman] It will be, and Ithink that's a direct reflection of the open governmentpartnership language that does talk about stamping out.

So this just doesn't, and also may be areflection of the fact that, the way that corruptionmanifests in Australia is different to some other places, who are looking at verytransactional low-level corruption on a day to day basis.

– [Ryan] Great, thank you very much for coming around today.

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