OGP Continues Organizing; Disclosure Policy on Horizon

21 October 2011

The Open Government Partnership will release its own proposed disclosure policy Oct. 25 as the organizers continue to develop the international effort.

The OGP steering committee also is preparing a governance policy that will, among things, deal with how to incorporate the new country members into the organization.

The OGP steering committee is an unusual blend – nine members from civil society groups and eight representing the founding countries (India dropped out). Officially launched in September in New York City, the OGP aims to advance a broad transparency agenda by, among other things, having member countries, now 46, prepare action plans and commit to their accomplishment. (See previous FreedomInfo.org reports.)

Governance Still Under Discussion

A Steering Committee discussion on governance is planned for the meeting in early November, according to U.S. official working on the OGP.

Besides considering how to incorporate the new members into the leadership structure, the committee will deliberate on creating a more formal affiliate role of civil society organizations and the private sector. How to work with multilateral organizations and entities such as the European Union also will be on the agenda.

Further discussions on the governance elements are expected to occur at the December steering committee meeting.

Other OGP Activities

The OGP “matchmaking” effort is getting underway with several country requests for help in pursuing various goals, according to a U.S. official involved in the effort.

Global Integrity, a Washington-based group, is coordinating the “Networking Mechanism,” which envisioned as “a resource to OGP governments: a source of expertise, advice, and ideas to help OGP governments develop innovative, `stretch’ open government commitments.” (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

In recent note to participants, National Heller of Global Integrity said:

We are expecting a significant increase in “demand” for OGP networking this fall and would like to schedule a time to discuss the ways in which you and your organization can engage with aspiring OGP governments.  Beginning this week, we will also be reaching out to OGP governments to stimulate greater demand for your expertise and services. Our goal is begin “making matches” as soon as possible.

In addition, preparations are being made for an OGP December meeting in Brazil, described as a “working meeting.” 

By the next OGP meeting in April, also in Brazil, all member countries are expected to have prepared their action plans. Only the eight founding countries have prepared action plans to date.  (See entries by clicking on “open government partnership” in FreedomInfo’s “latest tags” area.)

On the Radar

The OGP effort is also seems to be advancing openness as a topic for discussion at international meetings, the U.S. official said.

A session on open government is planned for an upcoming November Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Hawaii.

Also, the OGP will be the topic of a side meeting at the upcoming UN conference on corruption on Morocco.

In addition, behind-the-scenes efforts to involve more countries are continuing.  The OGP currently has 46 member countries out of the 79 eligible countries.

Charting Commitments

Global Integrity has developed a taxonomy for the 178 total country commitments announced by the eight steering committee governments.

The group’s Hazel Feigenblatt reported:

Based on our quick crunching of the resultant data, the most common commitments from the steering committee governments are those related to “Increasing Public Integrity” (75% of the commitments). Other frequently targeted open government reforms focus on “Improving Public Service,” “Effective Public Resource Management,” and “Increasing Corporate Accountability.”

Among the specific objectives, the dominant one is “Access to Information” (more than 50% of all commitments), followed by “Anti-corruption and Public Ethics” and “Citizen Engagement.”

There´s a wide range of thematic areas, with “Freedom of Information,” “Transparency,” “Public Service Delivery,” and “Budget and Spending” leading the way.

Only Brazil and South Africa clearly identified the agencies responsible for implementing their commitments. The eight countries expect to successfully implement their OGP by the end of 2012, but there are a few exceptions due to projects that scheduled for full implementation by the end of 2011 or those that extend into 2013-2014.

Ninety percent of the commitments are national in their scope. The remaining 10% are equally divided between international and sub-national in their scope.

Most of the eight countries made fairly specific commitments, in some cases noting the responsible agencies and dates for different targeted milestones related to implementation. But there are also a number of very fuzzy, vague commitments with few specifics attached to them.

We tagged the commitments based on what we understand is the main emphasis of each project, but we’re aware that most of these commitments can be tagged and classified in different ways. If nothing else, we hope that by slicing these initial OGP commitments into a .XLS file (.csv file and initial taxonomy used available here) , others will take up the analysis, including mashing these data up with third-party variables as well as visualizing the steering committee commitments.

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