OGP Members to Present Status Reports in Brazil

11 November 2011

Countries that will participate in the upcoming Open Government Partnership meeting in Brazil have been asked to make short presentations on their efforts to date to develop national action plans, according to the OGP website.

In other recent OGP news:

–          The OGP is advertising to hire a person who for its support unit.

–          Argentina has given an indication it plans to join, but Australian participation seems unlikely.

–          The deadline is approaching for comments to be made on the proposed OGP disclosure policy.

Officially launched in September in New York City, the OGP aims to advance a broad transparency agenda. Member countries, now numbering  46, must prepare action plans and commit to carry them out, with their efforts subject to internal and external review. (In  previous FreedomInfo.org articles by clicking on “open government partnership”  under “latest tags.”)

Peer Exchange Working Meeting

The two-day “peer exchange working meeting” Dec. 7-8 in Brasilia, Brazil, will be for “government officials involved in supporting lead Ministers on the OGP process, along with Steering Committee members and a small groups of civil society and international experts.” A Nov. 10 announcement said :

The objective of the meeting is to give new participating countries a clear sense of the OGP process and expectations, along with a more concrete sense of how their peers have approached different challenges and inspiration on how to proceed with their own processes and action plans.

It will be an opportunity for all new OGP participating countries to share their experience to date on developing action plans to be presented in 2012 as well as to engage with Steering Committee members on their experiences developing action plans and how they addressed various elements of the multi-stakeholder process.

In order to enrich the debate, all government participants are kindly asked to come prepared to make a short presentation on their efforts to date to develop their action plans in a regional breakout session.

A full agenda has not yet been released. Preliminary word is that plenary sessions will be open, but not the working group meetings.

The eight founding countries have submitted their action plans and the other 38 members are expected to unveil theirs at a meeting in Brazil April 16-18, 2012. The action plans are to be developed with public consultations.

The OGP Steering Committee, when it meets in Brazil, is expected to discuss a draft policy on disclosure it has proposed. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) Comments are due by Nov. 25. The OGP has not indicated it plans to post the comments. Governance issues are also expected to be on the steering committe agenda.

Argentina May Join, but Not Australia

Persons close to the OGP process have indicated that they expect additional countries to join and at a recent international meeting an official from Argentina said Argentina would join, according to a Twitter report by a person present.

During a workshop on OGP during the UN Convention against Corruption conference in Morocco,  Ambassador Guillermo Curia, head of the Argentinian delegation, said his country would join OGP before the end of the year and attend the Brazil meeting in December.

Another “A” country, Australia was rumored as a possible addition to the OGP roster. However, a FreedomInfo.org inquiry to  the embassy in Washington got this reply:  “Australia doesn’t intend to join the Open Government Partnership anytime soon.”

Uganda?

In other non-member countries (79 were asked to participate, 46 are members) there are occasional signs of pubic pressure to join.  A recent news article by Morrison Rwakakamba in The Independent in Uganda notes that Uganda sent a minister to a key preliminary meeting this summer in Washington but has yet to join.

Rwakakamba, the Uganda Program manager of Twaweza East Africa, points out that of the six countries in Africa invited to join, only Uganda has not. (Participating are South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Liberia and Ghana.)

“What happened,” the article asks. “Could it be that the government failed to organize itself around the tight OGP deadline? Or does it have a more philosophical objection to the key tenet of the OGP – openness.”

OGP Job Announcement

The OGP is “looking for a dynamic, self-motivated individual with strong experience in the governance sector to serve as Program Officer at the OGP Support Unit,” according to a recent OGP announcement which also said, “The OGP Support Unit is a small team dedicated to supporting the day-to-day operations of the Open Government Partnership in tandem with the OGP Co-Chairs.”

Commentary, Speeches

The OGP and open government efforts are discussed in a long blog post on the Open Knowledge Foundation Blog Oct. 31 by Matt Rosenberg, founder and editor of Public Data Ferret, a project of the non-profit Public Eye Northwest.

Maria Otero, the U.S. Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, gave a speech Oct. 27 at American University describing the OGP effort.

An article in The Mail & Guardian by Richard Calland, Executive Director of the Open Democracy Advice Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, though mostly about whistleblowing, notes in part: “South Africa has recently joined the Open Government Partnership and is one of eight of 46 participating countries that have submitted plans. The word from those present at the launch of the partnership in Washington on September 20 is that South Africa’s submission is regarded as the weakest by far — a lame rehash of old ideas.”

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