Open Government

What is Open Government?

Open Government is a catch-all term referring to the international movement to make Governments more open, transparent and accountable to the public.

A fundamental part of the movement for open government is open data and information. There are many kinds of data and information produced or funded by government, including geospatial datasets, educational resources, scientific reports and cultural works. The movement for open government calls for these works to be released for the public to access and re-use. This means that they should be free of price and copyright restrictions, in machine-readable open formats.

The free Creative Commons licences are a core part of the open government movement. By making it easy for public agencies to share data and information — not just with the public, but with other agencies — the Creative Commons licences reduce the transaction costs of sharing, and ensure that governments around the world can easily disseminate their copyright works for re-use.

Open Government in New Zealand

The New Zealand Government embraced Creative Commons licences wholeheartedly with the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL), first released in July 2010. NZGOAL recommends the use of Creative Commons licences for government agencies releasing copyright works for re-use, with the Creative Commons Attribution licence as the default. Version 2, released in December 2014, recommends agencies use Creative Commons 4.0 International licences in preference to the Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand licences (no retrospective licensing required). Guides for agencies and for users are found at together with a helpful NZGOAL factsheet.

NZGOAL found added support in the 2011 Declaration on Open and Transparent Government. With the Declaration, Cabinet directed government departments and invited State Sector agencies to commit to releasing high-value public data actively for re-use, in accordance with the Declaration and with the NZGOAL Review and Release process.

The Government’s purpose in advocating the release of useful and re-usable copyright material it holds with Creative Commons licences is, as noted in NZGOAL, two-fold. First, it wants to enable people to re-use government material for their own purposes, whether economic, environmental, creative or cultural, in the knowledge they may do so legally. Second, it wants to encourage experts and others to contribute to improved policy development and more efficient financial performance by government through being able to access, manipulate and provide feedback on such material.

Open access policies and licences allow democratic participation in the formation of public policy. They also allow the public to re-use — and even monetise — publicly funded content and data in innovative ways. New businesses and services can thrive when these materials are made available for re-use.

Open Data Release Case Studies

  • New Zealand Transport Agency

Open Data Re-use Case Studies

  • Copenhagen's Statens Museum fur Kunst

Open GLAM Case Studies

  • Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Open Education Case Studies

  • Albany Senior High School




















Learn More

  1. Quick Guide for Agencies in NZGOAL
  2. Quick Guide for Users of open government data and information
  3. Open New Zealand, a civil society organisation that supported the move to open government
  4. Toolkit for agencies applying the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government
  5. The International Open Government Partnership

Get Involved

If you are keen to get involved, we recommend that you join one of the local and international communities.

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