Action plan targets government crisis powers

The risk of fraud during government responses to a crisis situation is being targeted in a draft action plan on open government.

The plan, dubbed NAP3, also commits to improving transparency and trust  around the use of emergency and crisis powers.

An open government forum, comprising representative from government and civilian society and co-chaired by PMC deputy secretary of governance Stephanie Foster, is moving ahead with the development of the plan, which is aimed at making government more open, transparent and accountable.

The forum has come up with seven draft commitments which are open for feedback until November 6.

“Following earlier rounds of consultation, the OGP Forum has developed seven draft Commitments that touch on themes such as open data, access to information, transparency during times of emergency and crisis and open dialogue between civil society and government,” PMC says in a statement.

“We now seek final feedback on these draft commitments, which the Open Government Forum will consider when it meets again to finalise NAP3 in November. The final NAP3 will then be recommended to government by the end of 2020.”

The commitments include:

  • Building trust in data sharing
  • Open by design (right to know)
  • Professional support for ministerial advisers
  • Improve awareness within Commonwealth entities of fraud risks associated with government responses to a crisis situation
  • Improving transparency and trust related to use of emergency and crisis powers
  • Best practice in dealing with FOI requests.

The plan is being developed as part of Australia’s commitments under the multi-lateral Open Government Partnership, which currently includes 79 countries.

To become a member of the partnership countries need to endorse an open government declaration, deliver an action plan and commit to reporting on their progress.

Australia has been a member of the alliance since 2015 and this will be its third action plan. Previous plans were released in 2016 and 2018.

The second action plan contains eight commitments covering political donations and funding, public engagement in the public service, procurement, information access and corruption.

Of those one has been completed, three are on track and four have been delayed.

The first plan covered 19 commitments including whistleblower protection and government grants. Nine of those have been completed, one is on track and six are delayed. Three items are listed as “completed but delayed”.

Feedback on the draft can be made here.

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