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Ken Coghill


Please see the uploaded submission.
By way of background, I have been a: Victorian State public servant; MP, Parliamentary Secretary and Speaker of the Victorian Parliament; PhD on Ministerial responsibility and Accountability; researcher and post-graduate teacher of Government (current); founding member of the Accountability Round Table (current); Chair, Australian Open Government Partnership Network (current).

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Independent Review of the APS

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

PO Box 6500

Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Review Team,

Submission – Implementing Australia’s Open Government Commitments

This submission addresses the relevance of the commitments made by the Australian Government as a member

of the multi-national Open Government Partnership.
Your terms of reference state that the “APS needs to be apolitical and professional, agile, innovative and efficient
— driving both policy and implementation through coherent, collaborative, whole-of-government approaches.” It

is reflects your review’s Scope of Review, which includes:

 acquiring and maintaining the necessary skills and expertise to fulfil its responsibilities. In examining these
issues, the review will consider the suitability of the APS’s architecture and governing legislation. It will also
consider how the APS monitors and measures performance, and how it ensures the transparent and most
effective use of taxpayers’ money in delivering outcomes.
It is clear from the above quotations that your review is intended to embrace much more than “to understand and

deploy technology and data to drive improvement”, important and relevant as those are.
The Open Government Declaration includes four major commitments made by Australia and its more than 70

fellow OGP member nations:
 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.
The Declaration and commitments reflect the observation that open government is associated with superior

social and economic outcomes (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2012; Cameron, 2013).

Australia’s first National Action Plan (2016-2018) made several specific reforms that are directly relevant to the

four Open Government Declaration commitments. Recommendations for the second National Action Plan (2018-
20), prepared by the Open Government Forum (of which I am a civil society member), are before Government at

the time of writing. The recommendations again include proposed specific reforms addressing Australia’s

commitments under the Declaration. Submission to OGP is due in mid-August.

One of the strong themes running through the first and second National Action Plans addresses the commitment
“Support civic participation”. This theme aims to greatly strengthen the APS’s capacity to engage with

communities and civil society more generally, applying and adapting a spectrum of forms and tools for public

participation (International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), 2007, 2014). States, territories, local

government and foreign governments have used these to tap into deep knowledge, understanding and values in

communities, complementing information held in agencies. This has enabled governments to enhance their

decision-making and public trust.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has led the development of the public participation reform

proposals in the Action Plans.

Department of Management,
Monash Business School, Monash University

Level 7, Building N, Caulfield Campus

27 Sir John Monash Drive

Caulfield East VIC 3145


T: +61 (0)3 99 031 532

M: +61 (0)419 426 888

E: ken,coghill@monash.edu


ABN 12 377 614 012 CRICOS Provider 00008C
Beyond these specific reforms, the very process of the development of the first and second National Action Plans

has enhanced civic participation. The Open Government Forum comprises eight (8) senior officials drawn from

the agencies most directly associated with applying the Declaration’s commitments plus eight (8) civil society

activists selected through an open process. One from each part is a Co-chair.

The Forum and the associated agencies have actively sought to engage the community and civil society

organisations generally and have attracted the participation of NGOs with specialist knowledge and/or interest in

aspects of open government. The Forum welcomes and values such inputs and aims to reach consensus in

making its recommendations.

The first and second National Action Plans have also included reforms that address other features of how the

APS “monitors and measures performance, and how it ensures the transparent and most effective use of

taxpayers’ money in delivering outcomes”. Another of its most important reform proposals has concerned

implementation of “the highest standards of professional integrity throughout our administrations”, through

recommendations for strengthening Australia’s integrity framework, including the potential of a strong and

comprehensive corruption control agency.


I strongly recommend that the Review propose that Australia’s membership of the OGP and the Open

Government Declaration commitments be building blocks for “driving both policy and implementation through

coherent, collaborative, whole-of-government approaches” and for “how the APS monitors and measures

performance, and how it ensures the transparent and most effective use of taxpayers’ money in delivering


To facilitate consideration of this recommendation, please review the Second National Action Plan as soon as it

is available to you.

Yours sincerely

Associate Professor the Hon Dr Ken Coghill PhD

Member, Open Government Forum.


Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2012). Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty: Crown Business.
Cameron, D. (2013). PM speech at Open Government Partnership 2013. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-

International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). (2007, 2014). IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation. Retrieved from

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