The Policy Project's Open Government Partnership focus is on working across government to improve community engagement in policy making.
The Policy Project supports lifting the community engagement capability of policy advisors and agencies across the New Zealand public service – through delivering on its commitments under the Open Government Partnership Agreement. Since 2013, New Zealand has been part of the Open Government Partnership, which is a global organisation that aims to improve openness and engagement between government and citizens. You can read more about the work of the international organisation on the Open Government Partnership website.
Open Government Partnership National Action Plans
The Public Service Commission coordinates a programme of Open Government Partnership work across agencies in the form of National Action Plans. Every two years, agencies agree to undertake a series of commitments and milestones to progress further work on open government themes relating to transparency, participation and accountability. To date, New Zealand has participated in three cycles of National Action Plans. The Public Service Commission coordinates an officials group, and reports progress on achieving commitments under the plan to a New Zealand-based Expert Advisory Committee and an International Reviewer who oversee the programme.
Second National Action Plan – 2016 to 2018 (Commitment 7)
The Policy Project first participated in the Second National Action Plan – June 2016 to June 2018, with responsibility for Commitment 7. The aim of Commitment 7 was to improve knowledge of tools and techniques policy makers can use to create more open and user-led policy. As a result, the Policy Methods Toolbox was developed, which provides access to best practice tools and methods to support policy advisors. This initially included content on public participation, behavioural insights, design thinking, and Start Right (a commissioning approach tailored to policy projects).
Third National Action Plan – 2018 to 2021
The Policy Project continues to build on the resources for building capability in community engagement in the Policy Methods Toolbox through its work on the Third National Action Plan – 2018 to 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the usual two year timeframe for milestones had to be altered for the Third National Action Plan. As a result, the reporting period for the plan as a whole was extended from June 2020 to June 2021.
The Policy Project was responsible for Commitment 5 of the National Action Plan 2018–2021. This commitment aimed to develop a deeper and more consistent understanding of what good engagement with the public means (right across the International Association for Public Participation's Spectrum of Public Participation).
One of the main focuses for Commitment 5 was the expansion of tools and resources to help policy advisors improve their community engagement practice. The following resources have now been developed, and are provided in the Community Engagement section of the Policy Methods Toolbox:
- Good Practice Guide for Community Engagement
- Principles and Values for Community Engagement
- Getting Ready for Community Engagement
- Community Engagement Design Tool
- Selecting Methods for Community Engagement
- Guide to Inclusive Community Engagement
- Case studies documenting New Zealand innovation success stories in public participation in the policy development process
- Demonstration Project Report: Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy
As part of its Open Government Partnership work programme, the Policy Project has produced a report on the impact of engagement on the development and implementation of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and related initiatives.
References, guides and key readings
Discovery Workshops Conversation Tracker – The Policy Project ran two workshops to support its work to develop guidance for policy advisors, to better enable public participation in policy making.
Survey results: Community engagement in government policy making – a survey of policy advisors, community representatives, and engagement specialists on what would improve their participation in policy making.