Below is a first draft for a vision statement, compiled from feedback from contributors during Stage 1 of the OGPau consultation. The names of those contributors are at the bottom. Please contribute your edits directly to this page and your name to the contributors list.

DRAFT VISION STATEMENT

Australia has a long and proud history of open government and the use of communication technologies. With a high level of digital literacy, short history and small scale Australia has been an innovative nation. The Australian Government can take a leadership role in demonstrating the use of the Internet and modern technologies to provide wider access to information and establish a truly collaborative and open approach to government and governance of civil society, the private sector and the public sector to advance transparency, accountability, participatory democracy and technological innovation.

The Australian Government is committed to improved democratic practices with input from citizens in line with the OGP http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/open-government-declaration:
  • Increase the availability of information about governmental activities
  • Support civic participation.
  • Implement the highest standards of professional integrity throughout our administrations.
  • Increase access to new technologies for openness and accountability.

Openness and transparency

Making government data, information and processes openly available improves public trust, creates economic opportunities for industry, supports civil society to make better decisions and hold governments to account, and generates new opportunities for agencies and departments to use data across government for better policy outcomes and evidence based decision making. These approaches also help drive more efficiencies in government and more effective policies and services.

Participatory governance

By establishing effective mechanisms to collaborate with and establish ongoing feedback loops with civil society, governments and citizens can co-develop the information, policies and services of the future, creating greater responsiveness and resilience in how we can collectively respond to new and emerging opportunities and challenges.

A citizen-centric approach

Citizens should benefit from benefit from an ambitious commitment to open government. Governments exist to serve citizens, so by putting the needs of citizens at the heart of this vision, we can all design better approaches to improve prosperity, well-being and dignity for the whole society. A citizen-first approach actively engages citizens in the design and delivery of information, policies and services to leverage expertise and skills across the community, leveraging the best technological advances available.

Input from: Peter Timmins, Tim Smith (ART), Pia Waugh (PM&C OGP team), Marghanita da Cruz (http://ramin.com.au)

Email from the Accountability Roundtable with a submission the the Vision Statement submission

Dear Toby

The Accountability Round Table has a number of suggestions it wishes to put
on the Table as part of the Consultation Process to further improve and strengthen the Vision Statement.

We have attempted to explain and develop them in the Submission below.

If anything needs explanation please do not hesitate to call.

We look forward to discussing the issues and possible solutions.

Regards

Tim



ART Submission – Revised Vision Statement

Introduction
The Government has reconsidered and further developed its original draft vision statement:
https://ogpau.wikispaces.com/Vision+for+open+government+in+Australia.

It states:

“Below is a first draft for a vision statement, compiled from feedback from contributors during Stage 1 of the OGP consultation. The names of those contributors are at the bottom. Please contribute your edits directly to this page and your name to the contributors list.”

We strongly support, and wish to contribute further, to this process of open exchange of views between civil society groups and individuals and the Government about what the content of the Vision Statement for the Australian Open Government Partnership (AOGP) should be.

In developing the AOGP Vision Statement, like all national OGP Vision Statements, we submit that regard should be had to

“The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder international initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance”.


The Government’s revised Draft Vision Statement
“Australia has a long and proud history of open government and is in a good position to take a leadership role internationally. Australia is a digitally literate and innovative nation. The Internet and modern technologies have helped citizens be more empowered than ever before so now is the time to establish a truly collaborative and open approach to government and governance which involves civil society, the private sector and the public sector working together to advance transparency, accountability, participatory democracy and technological innovation in Australia and around the world.The Australian Government is committed to improved democratic practices with input from citizens in line with the OGP Open Government Declaration:
  • openness and transparency: to promote transparency, fight corruption, empower citizens, and harness the power of new technologies to make government more effective and accountable;
  • participatory government: to uphold the value of openness in our engagement with citizens to improve services, manage public resources, promote innovation, and create safer communities; and
  • a citizen-centric approach: to embrace principles of transparency and open government with a view toward achieving greater prosperity, well-being, and human dignity in our own countries and in an increasingly interconnected world.
These pillars of open government should encapsulate and be implemented to align with the additional OGP principles of transparency, citizen participation, public accountability and technology and innovation.Openness and transparencyMaking government data, information and processes openly available improves public trust, creates economic opportunities for industry, supports civil society to make better decisions must and hold governments to account, and generates new opportunities for agencies and departments to use data across government for better policy outcomes and evidence based decision making. These approaches also help drive more efficiencies in government and more effective policies and services.Participatory governanceBy establishing effective mechanisms to collaborate with and establish ongoing feedback loops with civil society, governments and citizens can co-develop the information, policies and services of the future, creating greater responsiveness and resilience in how we can collectively respond to new and emerging opportunities and challenges.A citizen-centric approachCitizens should benefit from benefit from an ambitious commitment to open government. Governments exist to serve citizens, so by putting the needs of citizens at the heart of this vision, we can all design better approaches to improve prosperity, well-being and dignity for the whole society. A citizen-first approach actively engages citizens in the design and delivery of information, policies and services to leverage expertise and skills across the community, leveraging the best technological advances available.”

This statement is a significant advance on the original statement. It draws upon the commitments required of member nations and their people under the OGP Articles of Governance – in particular the declaration of those commitments- to identify the content of the Vision required of all member nations. (http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/attachments/OGP%20ArticlesGov%20Apr%2021%202015.pdf - p20).
It also includes
  • an acknowledgement of a fundamental guiding value, “governments exist to serve citizens”
  • and its corollary, “putting the needs of citizens at the heart of this vision”,
values that support that the more specific statement made in the OGP Articles of Governance that “Governments collect and hold information on behalf of people, and citizens have a right to seek information about governmental activities” [1],
The proposed draft also recognises the fact that, when one considers the overall history of Commonwealth, State and Territory government action, Australia has a “long and proud history of open government” and that it is in a position to take a leadership role internationally. But the draft Vision Statement refers only to an incomplete list of the OGP declarations. This needs to be addressed.

It is proposed to discuss first in more detail what we suggest are matters in the Government’s revised draft that need to be reconsidered and to then propose a revision of the Government’s revised draft.
  1. Identification and discussion of issues
The first part of the Draft Vision Statement seeks to articulate the vision so far as the commitments (or objectives) are concerned.

It states:
“Australia has a long and proud history of open government and is in a good position to take a leadership role internationally. Australia is a digitally literate and innovative nation. The Internet and modern technologies have helped citizens be more empowered than ever before so now is the time to establish a truly collaborative and open approach to government and governance which involves civil society, the private sector and the public sector working together to advance transparency, accountability, participatory democracy and technological innovation in Australia and around the world. The Australian Government is committed to improved democratic practices with input from citizens in line with the OGP Open Government Declaration:
  • openness and transparency: to promote transparency, fight corruption, empower citizens, and harness the power of new technologies to make government more effective and accountable[2];
  • participatory government: to uphold the value of openness in our engagement with citizens to improve services, manage public resources, promote innovation, and create safer communities;[3] and
  • a citizen-centric approach: to embrace principles of transparency and open government with a view toward achieving greater prosperity, well-being, and human dignity in our own countries and in an increasingly interconnected world.[4]”
These statements about objectives and commitments by the Government are also described in the draft “Vision” statement as “pillars of open government”.
A.1.Need to Re-state the summary of the commitment objectives of the Declaration.
The 3 dot paragraphs quoted above, appear to have relied substantially upon the preamble[5] to the actual Declaration of Commitments that all nations joining the OGP are expected to make.
While the preamble provides valuable summaries and details of the features of the overall objectives which form part of the statement of commitments and objectives, it is inevitably incomplete.
The formal Commitment Declarations are much more detailed. They identify four objectives. They and the explanatory content run to nearly two pages. The four formal commitments are summarised in the four headings of the Commitment Declaration as follows [6]
(i) Increase the availability of information about governmental activities
(ii) Support civic participation
(iii) Implement the highest standards of professional integrity throughout our administration
(iv) Increase access to new technologies for openness and accountability

Accepting that a Vision Statement will be expressed in more general terms, focussing on the statements in the preamble and creating headings for them has the unavoidable result that there are gaps in the headings provided and the content; for example, it does not fully articulate the aims spelt out in, and under, the headings of the commitment declarations. The most extreme example is omission of item (iii) above - “Implement the highest standards of professional integrity throughout our administration”. The detail indicates that the objective is “high ethical standards and codes of conduct”, “robust anti-corruption policies, mechanisms and practices” and “increasing deterrents against bribery and other forms of corruption in the public and private sectors” as well as to “sharing information and expertise”
The content of headings is important in meeting the challenge of summarising the objectives, and key details must be included in the supporting material.
To achieve that it is submitted that the best course is to take the headings used in the formal statement of the Open Government Declarationfor the actual objectives and commitments as the starting point for articulating the objectives for the Vision Statement. the whole of the available detailed OGP material and the present Draft Vision Statement should then be drawn on to provide a succinct statement of the content of the particular objective. This approach will best enable due structure and content to be given to the objectives in the Vision Statement.
Furthermore, Item (iii)above is of critical relevance to all the other objectives identified in the Declaration and needs to be included as a separate but overarching objective to be addressed in the Vision Statement.

A.2 The second part of the text of the revised Vision Statement.
(a)In the next paragraph it is stated that –
“These pillars (referring to the earlier three dot paragraphs) should encapsulate and be implemented to align with the additional OGP principles of transparency, citizen participation, public accountability and technology and innovation”.
This appears to be an attempt to bring in the “four core open government principles set out in the Articles of Governance” [7] but it can be misinterpreted as saying that these four principles set limits and controls. They do not do so. Rather, those principles will guide in the performance of the commitments and should be observed and honoured. The paragraph should be removed, or revised to remove doubt e.g.

“These pillars of open government” should
be
encapsulate
d
in the Vision and
be
implemented
having regard
to all relevant matters including
to align wit
h the a
dditiona
l OGP principles[8] of transparency, citizen participation, public accountability and technology and innovation.”

(b)The short paragraph just discussed is then followed by three more detailed paragraphs canvassing the same three areas previously discussed in the draft Vision Statement as objectives. However, the three paragraphs read as if their aim is to identify benefits that will flow from pursuit of the commitments and the OGP principles. This material should be three sub-paragraphs under a major heading making that clear, e.g. “Benefits of the AOGP”.

Part C; General Issues
C.1 Whose Vision Statement? The present draft refers to the Government’s objectives. This is, of course, understandable because of the centrality of the role of government and the reality that until there has been an adequate consultation between civil society and government about the Vision Statement, and agreement reached about the Vision in partnership, the AOGP will not have been brought into life.
That process being underway, our objective for the Vision Statement should be to address, and be seen to address, the objectives and obligations of the government and the people of Australia under the OGP. For what is being addressed in the Vision Statement is the Vision for their partnership for which both government and the people carry similar objectives and obligations.
C.2; Fundamental Values underpinning the Partnership Vision
As noted above, some values and principles receive some specific attention in the Draft Vision Statement. Those values flow from the ethical and common law legal principle (not specifically referred to it in the OGP Articles of Governance) that the relationship between Government and the people of Australia is a fiduciary one created by the people of Australia. Those holding public office (public officers) are entrusted, directly and indirectly with power to be exercised for the benefit of the people Australia[9].
Under this Public Trust principle, those holding public office have the responsibility to
  • ensure that they and their fellow public officers place the public interest ahead of their personal or other private interests and
  • take appropriate action when others who hold public office fail to honour that obligation.
Such action can, in some circumstances, be taken through the courts. Otherwise action must be taken by those holding public office, whether the public service or parliamentarians. The people of Australia have the ultimate responsibility of holding those in public office to account when those holding public office failed to do so.
The Public Trust principle should be given appropriate prominence in the Vision Statement as the key guiding principle underpinning the objectives of the AOGP. Honouring it should help to ensure that the AOGP Vision is achieved.

Bearing the above in mind, we advance for discussion the following draft Vision Statement for the AOGP National action plan. It comprises text from the Draft Vision Statement (unmarked) and added material (Track Change)


Proposed Draft AOGP Draft Vision Statement February 2016.
A major challenge is to articulate a Vision Statement that has enough detail to provide real guidance but is not so detailed that guidance will be lost.
We propose the following draft. The primary source of detail has been the content of the Declaration in Addendum D of the Articles of Governance. The draft has been prepared on the basis that the vision is a long-term one that is likely to be revisited with the preparation of each subsequent National Action Plan and as circumstances may change.

Draft Vision Statement
1. Objectives, values and principles.
“Australia has a long and
predominantly
proud history of open government
at the Commonwealth, State and Territory levels of government. It is such that it places Australiaand is
in a good position to take a leadership role internationally. Australia is a digitally literate and innovative nation. The Internet and modern technologies have helped citizens be more empowered than ever before so now is the time to establish a truly collaborative and open approach to government and governance which involves civil society, the private sector and the public sector working together to advance transparency, accountability, participatory democracy and technological innovation in Australia and around the world.
The government and people of Australia acknowledge and commit themselves in the long-term to improved democratic practices and conduct
,
as partners
,
in accordance with the OGP Governance Articles, Open Government Declaration and the long-standing ethical and legal principle that public office is a public trust a consequence of which is that
“governments exist to serve citizens
, …so
by putting the needs of citizens at the heart of this vision
.
[10] and commit[11]
themselves to the following
objectives
;
  • Increase the availability of information about governmental activities. “Governments collect information on behalf of the people, and citizens have the right to seek information about governmental activity”[12]. We commit, in particular to promotingeand supporting transparency, fighting corruption, empowering citizens. We also commit to increasing access to new technologies[13] and harnessing their power of new technologies to make government more effective, open and accountable[14];
  • Support participatory government: Support the value of openness in government and citizen engagement,our engagement with citizens in policy formation and decision making to improve services, manage public resources, promote innovation, and create safer communities;[15] and
  • A citizen-centric approach**[16]**: Governments exist to serve citizens. …. A Citizen-first approach actively engages citizens in the design and delivery of information, policies and services to leverage expertise and skills across the community, leveraging the best technological advances available.[17]
  • Public accountability: the objectives shouldbe reinforced by “rules, regulations and mechanisms in place that will require government actors to justify their actions, act upon criticisms or requirements made of them and accept responsibility for failure to perform with respect to laws or commitments”[18]A citizen[TS1]
  • Implement the highest standards of professional integrity throughout all branches of government. We commit to promoting “robust anti-corruption policies, mechanisms and practices, ensuring transparency in the management of public finances and government, and strengthening the rule of law”, making information of those activities available to the [public) and other matters (as discussed in the Articles of governance Addendum D[19])
In doing so, we will at all times have regard to the Articles of Governance of the Open Government Partnership, in particular Australia’s commitments made under the Open Government Declaration (Addendum D) and the obligations articulated in Addendum B: OGP Country Commitments and the long-standing ethical and legal principles referred to above.[TS2]

2. Benefits from fulfilling OGP commitments.[20]

  • Openness and transparency - Technology and innovationsMaking government data, information innovations and processes openly available in timely fashion, including up to date technology,thereby improving improves public trust, creates economic opportunities for industry, supports civil society to make better decisions and hold governments to account, and generates new opportunities for agencies and departments to use data across government for better policy outcomes and evidence based decision making. These approaches also help drive more efficiencies in government and more effective policies and services.Participatory governanceBy establishing effective mechanisms to collaborate with and establish ongoing feedback loops with civil society, governments and citizens can co-develop the information, policies and services of the future, creating greater responsiveness, innovation,, effective governance and resilience in how we can collectively respond to new and emerging opportunities and challenges, .)
  • A citizen-centric approach Citizens should benefit from an ambitious commitment to open government. Governments exist to serve citizens, so by putting the needs of citizens at the heart of this vision, we can all design better approaches to improve prosperity, well-being and dignity for the whole society. A citizen-first approach actively engages citizens in the design and delivery of information, policies and services to leverage expertise and skills across the community, leveraging the best technological advances available.”
[TS3]
Conclusion
The terms of the OGP Articles of Governance require that we pursue ambitiously the objectives of the OGP in researching and developing Australia’s first National Action plan. In doing so, we must also ensure that what is done will best serve the public office public trust principle, in particular, the principle that governments exist to serve citizens, and that priority must be given to the public interest over personal or private interests.


[1] Open Government Partnership: Articles of Governance (current -2012) Addendum D: Open Government Declaration (P. 20) http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/attachments/OGP%2520ArticlesGov%2520Apr%252021%25202015_0%5B1%5D.pdf
[2] OGP Articles of Governance, Addendum D: Open Government Declaration second last item in the p. 20
[3] ibid taken directly from the last item night in the preamble
[4] Ibid, also taken directly from the last item in the preamble.
[5] Ibid, p 20
[6](Numbers inserted for the purpose of this analysis

[7] above, page 18
[8] Articles of Governance p 18
[9] provide link to Lusty and Brennan
[10] …Stated in the present revised Vision Statement in the text under the heading "a citizen-centric approach"
[11] We commit to the following and the detail relating to them on pp 20-21 of Addendum D
[12]Addendum D p 20 first commitment stated.
[13] For details we refer to the discussion in Addendum D of the Articles p.21 under the last separate heading “Increase access to new technologies for openness and accountability”. The item is included here because, while very significant in its own right, its role is to “increase the availability of information ….”
[14] Combination of material in preamble and the text under the first commitment item (in the OGP text- p20-21 for details)
[15] taken directly from the last item in the preamble (p 20) for more details see p21 “Support civic participation”
[16] Identified in the Revised Vision Statement, as the last item to consider.
[17] Taken directly from the last item discussed in the Revised Vision Statement.
[18] Articles of Governance, Annexure B p18
[19] Articles of Governance, Annexure D
[20] material in this section Is taken from the current present Draft Vision Statement

[TS1]track changed because, while the text is copied from the list of principles on page 18 of the Articles of Governance, it has been moved to a separate location in this Draft. It also was not included in the most recent government draft among the principles below even though it is to be found included in the Articles where the principles are set out
[TS2]Because the attempt has been made to summarise what appears in the Articles of Governance, and because this is a vision statement, it is necessary to make sure that the Draft Vision Statement it is not read as an exhaustive statement like a statute but as an overview of the detail.
[TS3]This draws on the last three paragraphs of the present Revised Vision Statement.