We are an open book, EPA says in statement setting out policy on openness

The Environmental Protection Authority has issued a press statement to emphasise its staff work on the principle of ‘open by default’, so EPA information and data is accessible to everyone.

It will publish information on its website unless it has a justifiable reason – such as for personal privacy reasons, or due to legislative restrictions – to keep it under wraps.

The EPA says:

We call it our ‘Open Book’ policy. It means we’re committed to ensuring our information and data is easy to access, quick to find, and can be understood by everyone; from a chemical manufacturer who needs to access it for statutory reasons, to someone simply wanting to find out more about the work we do.

We’re guided by the Official Information Act 1982. This piece of legislation promotes access, and increases availability, to official information held by government agencies.

Our policy’s also underpinned by the Open Government Partnership, of which our Government is a member. The Partnership is an international agreement by governments to ‘create greater transparency, increase civic participation, and use technologies to make their governments more open, effective, and accountable’.

In 2016, New Zealand ranked seventh out of 115 countries in the Open Data Barometer (released by the World Wide Web Foundation). The barometer measures how governments across the globe publish and provide access to data.

And earlier this year, the New Zealand Government signed up to the International Open Data Charter. This collaboration between governments and experts aims to open up data, and is based on six principles that say data should be:

  • open by default
  • timely and comprehensive
  • accessible and usable
  • comparable and interoperable
  • for improved governance and citizen engagement
  • for inclusive development and innovation.

The EPA says it works hard to make sure it is meeting these principles.

But there will be incidences [sic] where we can’t publish certain information on our website.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, or need, or there’s information you think should be available on our website, you can get in touch via email at web.master@epa.govt.nz.

Where information has been updated or superseded, we make every attempt to ensure that only the most current version is available. If you would like to see previous versions, you can request them from us.

To request information under the Official Information Act, you can email us at ministerials@epa.govt.nz.

The EPA statement invites those who would like to know more about open governments and open data to visit these sites:

What is open data? – Data.govt.nz website

Open Data Charter website

Open Government Partnership website

Open Data Barometer website

Official Information Act 1982 – New Zealand Legislation website

Source: Environmental Protection Authority

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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