Government commitment to “Open”

The Labour / NZFirst coalition government (supported by the Green party) have stated a commitment to “Open” including:

  • Adoption of the International Open Charter, signed by the Minister for Statistics James Shaw in March 2018
  • Allocation of an associate minister for open government role – Associate Minister of State Services (Open Government)
  • Adoption of the D5 Charter, signed by the previous government with further commitment to the now D7 by Minister Clare Curran, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Government Digital Services, Associate ACC, Associate State Services (Open Government)

NZRise members, as owners of New Zealand owned digital technology sector businesses, have previously stated our support for New Zealand’s adoption of the D5 Charter and encourage the government to continue with this very Open and Transparent course.

Recommendation: “Open Everything”

This broad goal encompasses open government, open source software, open data and open standards, per the D5 Charter. To quote:

3.2. Open standards – technology requires interoperability and so a clear commitment to a credible royalty free open standards policy is needed

3.3. Open source – future Government systems, tradecraft, manuals and standards are created as open source and are shareable between members

3.4. Open markets – in government procurement create true competition for companies regardless of size. Encourage and support a start-up culture and promote economic growth through open markets

3.5. Open government (transparency) – be a member of the Open Government Partnership and use open licences to produce and consume open data

Action – Adopt the “D5 Charter” principles around “open” across government

Many of our D7 partners and other OECD nations have developed and adopted strategies and policies that ensure the innovation and agility that open practices and technologies bring are realised in a government context. New Zealand has committed to the D5 charter so should actively progress policy and operational procedures to adopt “open” as a standard practice.

Action – Appoint an Industry Sector Leader to Co-develop “open” technology strategies

For years, the NZ government has resisted taking strategic stock of the opportunities around the faster adoption of open technologies. It now appears to lack the internal capability to develop and implement an “open technology strategy”. A sector leader with broad national, international, community and business experience should be appointed to set a strategic direction for government and work with government agencies on an implementation approach.

Action – Collect and “own” our NZ datasets and ensure open algorithms drive AI

Related to this policy recommendation is the idea that algorithms, such as those used in machine learning and artificial intelligence need to be “open”. This allows us to inspect them for biases, both unconscious and deliberate. A key duty of care for government will be how it collates data sets, and how these are used to drive AI engines, which are themselves being proposed to drive government behaviour.

Action – Ensure open access and open knowledge is enshrined in our education system

Free education has proven to be economically transformational. As education resources and activities become more and more digital, it is important to maintain and retain that free access through our public institutions such as schools, libraries, polytechnics and universities. Access to freely available knowledge and publicly funded research needs to be unrestrained either through technology controls or non-free business models.

Open technologies have a role to play in ensuring that information does not get captured, locked away or lost through obsolescence. There are a number of publicly funded institutions, government agencies and departments, including the National Library, who are key to ensuring this access remains open.

Action – Transparency First

Government agencies and officials currently operate on a basis of disclosing information when required by law, when requested via the Official Information Act or as a result of considerable internal process and approval.
Taking a Transparency First approach would move the behaviour from “Closed by default” to “Open by default” where Government retain information in a closed state by exception which must be proven as required.
Transparency of measurement, reporting, data and information would significantly increase trust in Government and enable other parties within our economy to work more closely and effectively with their Government partners.



This post is the second in a series of recommendations NZRise members encourage and support. The first “Government aim for ICT to be our second-largest contributor to GDP by 2025 – NZRise recommendation“.

We have stated these openly to Government officials and agencies via our agreed communication pathways.

Any questions please post as replies or contact the co-Chairs via [email protected]