OGP Posts Draft Disclosure Policy, Seeks Comments

25 October 2011

The Open Government Partnership Steering Committee Oct. 25 proposed a disclosure policy, inviting public comment by Nov. 25.

The draft policy begins with a pledge. “The Open Government Partnership is committed to modeling best practices and embodying the principles of transparency, accountability and citizen engagement that it promotes. OGP is committed to being accountable to its stakeholders and recognizes that an essential part of that is sharing information in a transparent and proactive way.”

The draft policy describes what material will be automatically released and sets out a request policy, with exemptions.

Proactive Disclosure

The OGP list materials that will be put online, including on finances, governance, activities and operations.   

The OGP anticipates posting steering committee agendas, minutes and summaries of its meetings. It does not indicate that the meetings will be open.

Also to be released will be “policies and documents approved by the Steering Committee.” The policy later describes plansfor seeking public comment on most proposed policies.

The names of all OGP participating countries and their letters of intent will be released. So will the “names, roles and contacts of all OGP partners (for example, the Networking Mechanism and the Independent Reporting Mechanism).”

When the assessment process begins for OGP members’ action plans, the organization anticipates disclosing “Government Self-Assessment Reports” and “Independent Reporting Mechanism Assessments.”

Regarding “operations,” the organization says it will disclose the names and titles of key staff and the “vendors and costs for OGP projects.”

Requests, Exemptions

Information requests will be “handled by staff rather than automation,”  according to the proposal, and  will “either be addressed directly by the receiving individual or forwarded to the OGP Support Unit Director and/or Steering Committee Co-Chairs as appropriate.”

Information released to any requester will also be posted on the OGP website, along with a log of requests and responses, according to the draft policy.

Regarding exemptions, the draft policy states:

While OGP is committed to having a fully transparent and proactive disclosure system in place, information may be considered confidential and not available to the public under the following circumstances:

  • Information received by OGP which has an explicit expectation of confidentiality;
  • Information which if disclosed would do identifiable harm to the safety or security of an individual, or violate his or her rights or privacy;
  • Information that in OGP’s view, if disclosed, would demonstrably inhibit candid policy dialogue with governments, donors, communities or partners;
  • Internal pre-decisional policy documents that are not available for public consultation.  Pre-decisional policy documents not subject to public consultation will be archived and available on request after three years.

In the rare cases where OGP is unable to satisfy an information request, we will provide a reasonable and timely justification as to why we are unable to provide information.

OGP reserves the right to refuse spurious or unreasonable requests, including blanket requests, and any request that would require OGP to create, develop, or collate information or data that it does not currently collect.

When the OGP Support Unit and/or Co-Chairs cite an exception to withhold information, the requester may appeal that denial to the full Steering Committee.

Feedback on Draft Policies

“OGP will actively seek public feedback on draft policies that relate to the overall practices of the initiative (such as the OGP Disclosure Policy itself),” according to the draft, which continues:

These policies will be published online and whenever possible (resources allowing) in relevant languages with due notice and a minimum of 30 days for the public to comment.  All comments will be made public, along with the final version of any document under public consultation.

For any draft documents that are submitted to the Steering Committee for discussion and approval but not subject to prior public consultation (for example internal governance protocols for the OGP Steering Committee), the final document will be published promptly on the OGP website.

“Limitations of start-up, staffing, location and funding,” will mean that the public website will use English as its primary language “in the near term,” the OGP said. “Key documents will be published in this language, and whenever possible the support unit will also translate key documents into Portuguese, French and Spanish.  We also encourage our members and colleagues to undertake translations of OGP materials for us to share on the OGP website with appropriate credits.

Process Outlined

Following the one-month public comment period, the Steering Committee and Support Unit will consider all inputs, and propose a revised OGP disclosure policy for approval at the Dec. 6, OGP Steering Committee meeting in Brazil. 

The final policy will be published following Steering Committee approval, the OGP said.

Comments should go to the OGP Support Unit at info@opengovpartnership.org with the subject title “disclosure policy comments.”  OGP will consolidate and publish all comments that it receives on its website.

 

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