Mandatory publication of certain info

The Mexican federal equivalent to the Official Information Act, the Federal Law of Transparency and Access to Public Government Information, requires each agency covered by the law to publish information under 17 prescribed categories, including staff directories, internal guidance and policies, and contracts. It also requires each agency to upload this information to a centralised portal, so the public don't have to go hunting around the websites of lots of different agencies to find this information. This 'Transparency Portal' should be emulated, and advanced on by New Zealand. It would build upon the neglected Directory of Official Information that the Ministry of Justice have let languish, and would contribute to the Minister of Finance's desired goal of 'inside out government'. Compliance with the mandatory publication requirements should be audited by the Ombudsman, whose office should be funded for this additional work.

The legislative amendments are not hard to draft, and this goal is easily measurable within the lifespan of the next Action Plan.

 

Why the contribution is important

Too much time is spent by government agencies dealing with requests for very basic information that should be published proactively. It would build upon the existing requirements in sections 20-22 of the OIA. While investment would be needed to build the necessary systems, these should be offset by agencies having to deal with fewer OIA requests. Not that cost should be the defining issue in enabling public access to the information stewarded by government agencies on their behalf.

by JohnJacobson on August 23, 2016 at 10:35PM

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Comments

  • Posted by ainekc August 24, 2016 at 22:52

    Agreed. A similar system exists in Spain which I have written about here: http://www.transparency.org.nz/[…]/Proactive_Disclosure_Report_FINAL.pdf and in many of the autonomous regions even more information must be published (I can provide more info on request). New Zealand is slowly starting to embrace a culture of proactive disclosure and legislation which above all encourages this shift, recommends that agencies refer to the Public Interest Test when in doubt about the utility of publishing, and which mandated the publication of particular categories of information such as cabined expenses and public procurement would assist greatly in accelerating this shift. Such a list would at the very least combine in one logical place all existing mandates to proactively disclose official information (e.g. cabinet expenses, political party donations) and provide the public with a clearer understanding on their rights to be able to search for, as opposed to just request, these types of information.
  • Posted by engage2_Facilitator August 24, 2016 at 22:53

    Thanks for identifying the Mexican example that people can check out.
  • Posted by ainekc August 24, 2016 at 23:04

    Also, I would assume data.govt.nz would be the more logical platform on which to build a transparency portal system that government agencies can publish on? The Directory of Official Information seems to come under the Ministry of Justice only, so for an all-of-govt type portal, at least from the point of view of the public, something that doesn't appear to be tied down to one specific ministry/dept. would probably be more appropriate? I don't have any expertise here though...
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