New Details Emerge on OGP Review Mechanism

30 April 2012

The next major stage in the history of the Open Government Partnership will occur as the 55 members review their implementation of their national action plans, and have their compliance  reviewed by experts.

This Independent  Reporting Mechanism (IRM)  process was outlined a year ago, and made more formally  in the just-issued Articles of Governance, but now OGP leaders are rushing to complete the details of the policies to be followed and start the process.

Most of the 55 member countries submitted their action plans at the OGP meeting in Brazil April 18-19, and after a year they will be required to prepare a self-evaluation. In addition, an  OGP expert panel will select an independent expert to review each national plan.

The reviews will not evaluate the quality of the plans, but will discuss their implementation, including the adequacy of efforts to involve the public in make wrting the plans.

Although the basics are in place, more still needs to be define the IRM, and to select the people who will do it,  according to the minutes of OGP’s April 16 Steering Committee meeting, released April 24. “The workload between now and then is substantial,” the minutes state. (For more on other topics at the meeting see additional FreedomInfo.org report.)

Homework for Subcommittee

At that meeting, the Criteria and Standards subcommittee presented a five page “concept note” that describes the remit of the OGP, reporting timelines, the international expert panel, the selection of local experts, the role of governments, the role of the subcommittee and the timeline for future actions.

The Steering Committee endorsed most of the concept note, but asked for more work on several items.

–          The tool/template used to do both government self assessment and independent IRM reports and the process/timeline for designing them;  –

–          The process for selecting the international panel of experts, and whether it should be enlarged from 3 to 5;

–          Criteria and process for the selection of local researchers and their specific terms of reference?

–          How the IRM will be administered, and what resources and staff are required.

At the meeting, according to the minutes and those in attendance who spoke with FreedomInfo.org, civil society groups stressed that the experts should reach out to civil society in the doing their study, and use new technologies. The minutes state: “The group agreed that IRM local researchers should emphasize listening to as many stakeholders as possible and documenting the various observations and concerns identified, rather than acting as jury and judge around a particular country’s performance.”

The concept note indicates that the OGP in May and June will begin the process of selecting the three international experts who will make up the panel, t be announced by September.  The lead expert will come from an institution chosen to be the “host” organization, handling the IRM administrative duties and receiving OGP financial support.

The panel, in turn, will select the local experts, beginning with experts who will examine the plans of the eight founding OGP countries by early 2013. The international panel also will devise a “universal questionnaire” to guide the reviewers. Governments will be able to see the draft reports and make suggestions, but will not have veto authority.

For the other OGP countries, reviews will be done after a year, after submission, which for most was this April, but the reviews will be done on a staggered schedule, according to the concept note.

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