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).
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
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.
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