Creating Canada's new plan on open government

Thom Kearney

By: Thom Kearney, Open Government team member

We just posted our draft plan for the next two years of Open Government, and thought we would set the stage with some background on the process we have undertaken so far.

The international Open Government Partnership (OGP) sets direction for how Action Plans are developed. The guidelines encourage countries to be transparent about the process, promote participation, consult in a variety of ways, and provide feedback to participants. We’ve designed Canada’s approach to follow this model.

On we launched consultations on a renewed approach to open government, and provided background material as well as an overview of the process. To spread the word, we promoted these consultations on the web, through social media, and to our email subscribers.

We invited participation in a few ways. Canadians could:

  • Post, vote, or comment on ideas online for potential open government commitments
  • Submit ideas and comments via a Contact Us form, our open-ouvert@tbs-sct.gc.ca address, or mail
  • Tweet using the #opengovcan hashtag
  • Attend one of seven workshops we hosted in cities across Canada

We also joined the community at events like the Canadian Open Dialogue Forum, the National Youth Leadership and Innovation Strategy Summit, the Open Knowledge Foundation Festival, and tech community meetings in Kitchener-Waterloo.

We’ve tracked everything we’ve heard and every comment we’ve received, regardless of whether it was said at a workshop table, tweeted, emailed, or written online – so far we’re up to 1,119 ideas submitted. We have distributed these ideas to departments and policy leads as we go, and we code and tag each comment by themes and possible government responses and actions. Each comment gets reviewed by at least three people, to make sure that we’re coding things accurately.

Crunching these numbers gives us a really good sense of the trends and overall needs and interests of the community. We are working hard to release a What We Heard report to provide an overview of the comments and ideas we received.

Drafting the plan

Our analysis of consultations and submissions, alongside discussions with departments and vigorous debate, has informed our drafting process. The next step is to make adjustments to this draft plan based on the feedback we receive, and then finalize the plan for publication.

The final plan will set our roadmap on open government for the next two years, though there’s still room to grow and evolve. Our goal is to establish a culture of “open by default” in the Government of Canada, and for there to be many more “open” initiatives than can be captured in a single document.

Tracking progress

The OGP guidelines on national action plans also include evaluation and transparency measures: for each two-year action plan, we write annual self-assessment reports to provide updates on progress, and a third-party researcher selected by the OGP writes independent progress reports. This is how we’re held to account for progress on the final deliverables in each plan.

What’s next

We posted the draft plan with options for you to provide your feedback and suggested improvements. The plan will be available for public comment until June 30, after which we’ll make final adjustments to the draft and prepare our final plan for publication.

We always welcome your input – including about how you want to be consulted in the future. Let us know at open-ouvert@tbs-sct.gc.ca.

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