CSO Member to Help Chair OGP; Panama to Join

27 January 2012

We have an #OGP civil society co-chair!!

That’s Martin Tisne’s enthusiastic tweet about a development in the closed meeting of the governance subcommittee of the Open Government Partnership.

The subcommittee met Jan 26 and 27 in Washington to work out further details of the unusual Steering Committee structure that  includes both government and civil society representatives.  At present, the 17-member steering committee has two co-chairs, from the United States and Brazil. Now the CSOs will have a chairman, too. 

The decision to create a tripartite leadership structure was tweeted by Tisne, who  runs the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, a donor consortium that funds the OGP. More information will be announced Jan. 30, according to a OGP spokeswoman. The OGP is finalizing its governance structure and also has indicated that its disclosure policy will be done by the end of January.

Some elements of the governance plan have surfaced. The OGP plans to have the CSO constituency choose the CSO members of the Steering Committee. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)  The current self-selected members were involved in the group’s foundation.

In another development, though not officially announced, Panama has committed to join the OGP, according to a reliable source.  This would bring OGP membership to 52 out of the 79 that met eligibility criteria.  

Evaluation Plans Developing

In other OGP news, a few more details have emerged about the process through which national action plans by member countries will be evaluated. 

The eight founding OGP governments have already prepared their action plans. The other members must produce them by the major April 16-18 OGP meeting in Brazil. Short status reports are due by the end of January.

 The OGP participation rules envision both national self-assessments of the plans and independent assessments.

The rules state: “As a complement to the self-assessment, an independent assessment report will be written by well-respected local governance experts from each OGP participating country. These experts will fill out a common OGP independent report questionnaire, based on a combination of interviews with local OGP stakeholders as well as desk-based analysis.”

These reports will be reviewed by international experts, and it now appears that there will be three of them.

“The draft report will then be shared with the relevant OGP government for comment. After receiving comments on the draft report from the government, the local expert will then finalize the independent report for publication on the OGP portal. OGP governments will also have the chance to issue a formal public response to the independent report on the OGP portal once it is published,” according to the participation rules.

The evaluations are to be published 15 months after the creation of the plans.

Julie McCarthy, the chief OGP staff person, in a note to an OGP Google group, added some addition detail when she wrote:

All member countries are expected to implement their action plans over 2 year periods, and then develop new plans on a new two year cycle. They will issue mid-term and final self-assessment reports each year of implementation, and the independent reporting mechanism will also issue annual reports.

On the [independent reporting mechanism] IRM questionnaire, we are in the process of identifying a group of intl experts through an open process (there will be call for nominations in next couple months) that will help us develop common questionnaire and provide quality control for entire IRM research process.  Once we get nominations for IRM intl experts, a sub-group of the OGP Steering Committee will shortlist the candidates based on transparent criteria and make recommendations to the larger Steering committee, which will then select three. Once intl experts selected and help us develop the questionnaire, it will be filled in at country level by local experts, and then the group of 3 intl experts will perform due diligence on this research before it is published.

Country Developments

The creation of national action plans seems to be creating few headlines, but some reports indicate domestic activity.

In the Ukraine, a new group was formed – the Ukrainian Civic Partnership – by 47 NGOs   and 13 individual members.

The main priorities of the OGP Civic Partnership include developing “an agreed-upon, public version of a National Action Plan, and to advocate for the plan and its implementation at the level of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.” That plan was presented Dec. 28. The group also plans to be involved in national action consultations and to inform key target groups about the OGP initiative, including interested international organizations.”

In Slovakia, conferences and workshops on open data and other topics resulted in proposals being presented to Prime Minister Iveta Radi?ová.

In Chile, the Chilean Senate hosted the seminar Jan 12-13 that resulted in a Santiago Declaration on Transparency and Integrity in Parliaments and Political Parties.that among other things recommends contacting the OGP to request that the OGP incorporate transparency in the legislative branch and political parties as part of their guidelines.

In Ghana, the country’s OGP membership was noted as the government in collaboration with World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF), an NGO, announced the Ghana Open Data Initiative to make government data available to citizens for re-use.

And in Canada, the provincial information commissioners combined to send a letter of suggestions for the national action plan.

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