Declaration on Open and Transparent Government

The Declaration on Open and Transparent Government  was approved by Cabinet on 8 August 2011.  The Declaration states:

Building on New Zealand’s democratic tradition, the government commits to actively releasing high value public data(1).

The government holds data on behalf of the New Zealand public. We release it to enable the private and community sectors to use it to grow the economy, strengthen our social and cultural fabric, and sustain our environment. We release it to encourage business and community involvement in government decision-making.

Through this commitment New Zealand citizens and businesses can expect a more efficient and accountable public sector, more services tailored to their needs, and a greater level of participation in shaping government decisions.

Releasing government data will help create the conditions that align central, regional and local government programmes and business initiatives.

By actively releasing taxpayer funded data we will assist educational, research, and scientific communities and the public to collaboratively build on existing data to gain new knowledge and apply it.

To support this declaration, the government asserts that the data and information it holds on behalf of the public must be open, trusted and authoritative, well managed, readily available, without charge where possible, and reusable, both legally and technically. Personal and classified data and information must be protected.

Public service and non-public service departments are directed and State Services agencies encouraged to commit to the release of high value public data for re-use in accordance with the declaration and principles. State Sector agencies and territorial and regional Chief Executives are also invited to participate in this initiative. Agencies are asked to regularly report to Ministers on their progress.

[1]           Public data refers to non-personal and unclassified data.

The Declaration’s status

The Declaration has been approved by Cabinet. Cabinet has:

- directed all Public Service departments, the New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Defence Force, the Parliamentary Counsel Office, and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service;

- encouraged other State Services agencies; and

- invited State Sector agencies


- to commit to releasing high value public data actively for re-use, in accordance with the Declaration and Principles, and in accordance with the NZGOAL Review and Release process.

Cabinet has also directed Chief Executives to submit their plans to actively release public data to portfolio Ministers for approval. The Data and Information Re-use Chief executives Steering Group will report the aggregate plans annually to the Ministerial Committee on Government ICT.

Cabinet has also invited the Minister of Local Government to write to local authorities and Local Government New Zealand informing the local government sector of the these decisions and encouraging councils, where they consider it appropriate, to take a similar approach.