Free and frank advice in an open government

Andrew Kibblewhite (Chief Executive DPMC and Head of the Policy Profession), Judge Peter Boshier (Chief Ombudsman) and Hannah Cameron (Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Policy, State Services Commission) spoke about managing the provision of free and frank advice and timely access to information in an open government environment.

Here is an outline of what they covered:

Hannah Cameron, Deputy Commissioner, State Services Commission

  • Background to the issuing of formal guidance
  • Responsibility of State Services Commissioner to ensure political neutrality, and relationship to the four pillars that underpin the Public Service
  • Relationship of trust and confidence with Ministers
  • Work programme to improve government agency practice in relation to the Official Information Act
  • State Sector Act a further opportunity to strengthen constitutional underpinnings for free and frank advice

Andrew Kibblewhite, Chief Executive, DPMC

  • Challenge of balancing competing principles of free and frank with government accountability and timely access to information
  • Recent article on Free and Frank - why it matters represents shared commitment to good government by openly discussing how to balance the two principles
  • Importance of widespread understanding of the characteristics of free and frank advice
  • Tensions between the two principles – risks, confidentiality, trust and transparency
  • Means available to foster free and frank advice

Judge Peter Boshier, Chief Ombudsman

  • Role of the Chief Ombudsman in relation to the OIA
  • Need for the OIA to operate with certainty
  • Issuing new principles-based guidance and providing more advisory services
  • Difficulties around when free and frank advice might be protected or not