It was a great experience working on the engagement and co-design process to develop New Zealand’s second National Open Government Action Plan. To see the results of the process, check out www.ogp.org.nz
We had a short timeframe to work with, but a couple of aspects of the project were really helpful from the beginning. Firstly, Amelia had developed a fantastic plan based on engage2’s experience of leading the engagement for Australia’s Action Plan earlier in the year, and was able to bring together a team of people with a great range of skills and networks, which enabled us to get underway quickly. Amelia has a great understanding of the Open Government Partnership and what is expected in terms of working with civil society stakeholders. As well as this, the team at the State Services Commission were committed to running a good process that addressed the concerns expressed about the process to develop the previous action plan. In parallel to this, key civil society stakeholders were very informed and engaged with the action plan process. They had already initiated their own ways to identify and develop potential commitments within their networks. This was fantastic and we are really glad that they were willing to integrate this work into the process we hosted.
One thing we were committed to from the beginning, was to run an open and transparent approach. This was particularly important as we encountered some stakeholders with concerns about the government’s commitment to the process given their past experiences. At all times, we did our best to provide clarity about the process, how they could be involved, and how their input was being used. Working with, not for government, allowed us to provide a high degree of service to both our client and the stakeholders. We were able to provide regular project updates and respond to stakeholder questions from our own perspectives in real time. This enabled us to build trust and credibility with stakeholders, and maintain the integrity of the co-creation process.
The different engagement tools and approaches we used complemented each other well. The face to face workshops and teleconferences encouraged stakeholders to generate and share actions, that were then fed into the online processes, where others could view and comment of them. Regular email updates and blogs enabled people to follow the progress of the project and pointed people to the different ways they could get involved. They also enabled us to summarise and reflect back the input we were receiving, which built momentum around the project, and encouraged further engagement.
With more time, there are a couple of other things we would have liked to do. We would have liked to engage a broader range of stakeholders in the process and inform the wider public more about ‘Open Government’ and the Partnership. The State Services Commission has now established a dedicated website (www.ogp.org.nz), which provides a great platform to do this from now on.
More time would have also given the co-design process more room to breathe. An impressive number of actions were suggested by Civil Society stakeholders. Additional time would have enabled the participants to work together more, to identify the common themes and refine the actions together, before the co-creation workshop.
Personally, I found working on the project to be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. I loved working as part of the engage2 team, where everyone was committed to doing whatever it took to deliver on the strategy within the timeframes.
Sincere thanks to the State Services Commission for entrusting this role to us, and to all the participants who were willing to faithfully engage in the process.
Manager, Stakeholder Relations