OGP Seeks Input on Topics, Side Meetings for April

20 January 2012

The Open Government Partnership is continuing its preparations for the April meeting in Brazil, putting out calls for suggestion of panel topics and “thematic side meetings.”

The OGP also reminded member nations to submit short updates on their efforts to develop national action plans, which are due by the April 16-18 meeting in Brasilia.

In another development, three affinity groups are planned as part of the OGP Networking Mechanism to help governments prepare their action plans.

Meanwhile, scattered reports testify to the ongoing development of national action plans and civil society efforts to influence them. A Canadian group said the government should meet certain standards of it would seek the country’s expulsion.  A U.S. coalition sought to deepen its involvement with the implementation of the U.S. plan.

The OGP posted on its website a summary of the experiences of the eight OGP Steering Committee governments in developing their action plans.  

The OGP has started a process to include civil society organization s in the April meeting.

(For all previous FreedomInfo.org articles on the OGP, see here.)

Call for Suggestions

The OGP set a deadline of Feb. 15 to submit suggestions for 90 minute panel discussions. In its announcement, the OGP asked that the panels “include participants from various sectors wherever possible (e.g. government, civil society, academia, private sector, media)”and “address themes that have relevance across countries and regions.”The OGP has an online submission form.

 Noting that the conference center where the OGP annual meeting will be held “has room for a small number of side events to be held concurrently with the official meeting program,” the OGP also is seeking proposals for side events that outside organizations would like to organize, also by Feb. 15.

The OGP noted that it would provide only the room, and that groups selected to organize side events will be responsible for all planning and organization. Again, the OGP provided an online form. The side events should be under three hours, include a variety of participants and address relevant themes, the OGP said.

“OGP will weigh these proposals based on thematic relevance to the initiative’s mission, and questions of balance and diversity, and will aim alert those organizations selected to organize side events by February 22th, 2011 or sooner.”

In a Twitter message, the OGP suggested using hashtag #OGPBrasilia2012 for ideas, topics and comments about the meeting.

Requesting Government Reports

The OGP also reiterated a call for participating countries to submit “an update on the progress of their OGP country action plan development process, including a description of public consultation efforts to date, plans for ongoing consultation, issues covered by the commitments, and the process for finalizing the action plan by April 2012.”

The update should be no more than 2 pages and include the name and contact information of a government focal point for all OGP related matters.  OGP officials have indicated that the reports, due by the end of January, will be made public.

Affinity Groups Planned

Global Integrity, which is leading the OGP networking effort, has indicated that it plans to create three “affinity groups.”

The topics are public financial management, data portals, and service delivery. Additional information is not currently available.

Canada Groups Seek Commitments

In Canada, the Open Government Coalition, Government Ethics Coalition and Money in Politics Coalition, made up of more than 70 citizen groups in total with three million members (coordinated by Democracy Watch), issued a news release about reforms the government should commit to in order to be a member of OGP, “changes not just in the area of transparency, but also ethics, anti-corruption, political finance, financial administration, whistleblower protection and public consultation/citizen engagement.”

The Canadian government has just concluded a month-long public consultation process, but has not released a draft OGP action plan.

The letter called on the federal Conservative government “to expand its current very limited open government agenda to include dozens of measures strengthening access-to-information, ethics, lobbying, political finance, financial administration, public consultation and whistleblower protection laws and enforcement.”

The Canadian critics said, “If the Canadian government’s final Action Plan does not commitments to make many changes to strengthen rules in, and enforcement of, many key democracy and good government laws, we will be appealing to the OGP Steering Committee to reject Canada’s application for membership in OGP at the April meeting in Brasilia.”

US Coalition Seeks Contacts

Recommendations of U.S. civil society organizations for implementing the U.S. government’s action plan were recently released.

Among other things, the coalition is trying to get the administration to share the names of White House contacts for each of the commitments in its plan and the lead contacts in the agencies. “We are planning to create teams on the commitments” to work with the government, the coalition said.

“We are beginning a process within the OGP CSO community to develop metrics for evaluating the implementation of the US government’s plan,” the coalition also said.

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