OGP Seeks Input on Evaluation Mechanism

18 May 2012

The Open Government Partnership is seeking comment on the structure of the system that will be used to review member country’s national action plans.

 The survey comes in advance of a planned OGP subcommittee meeting on the subject May 24-45 in London.

 The Standards and Criteria subcommittee will come up with recommendations on the Independent Reporting Mechanism.  

Much of the IRM has been outlined before, but with the action plans in place more attention is turning to details of their review. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report on the noncompliance issue and another on recent Steering Committee decisions on the IRM.)

In very general terms, governments will conduct self assessments on whether the plans have been carried out and independent experts under the supervision of an International Expert Panel will also prepare reports (more detail below).

The survey was circulated to civil society organizations with a deadline of May 20.

Numerous Questions Open

Among the issues raised (paraphrased) are:

When should the IRM report and the government reports be published?

Should the government report structure and the IRM report structure be the same or different?

Who should have input on the IRM reports and who should do the final sign-off on the reports?

Should the governments, which will not have veto power on the independent reports,  provide feedback on the reports before they are published?

Should the IRM a include an assessment of the original CSO asks as compared to those implemented in the action plan?

Should there be a “peer review” phase, separate from the local researcher process and the independent expert panel process?

Should the International Expert Panel be drawn from OGP countries only, what should their qualifications be, and how should the nomination process be handled?

What will be the main responsibilities of the International Expert Panel?

Should the Independent Expert Panel be tasked with producing an overarching report on themes and best practice?

What should be the qualifications for the local researchers and should they only come from the country in question?

Should the International Expert Panel be responsible for reviewing and vetting local researchers?

Preamble to Survey Describes Process

 The survey begins with a general description of the IRM process:

Preliminary discussions about the IRM occurred during previous Open Government Partnership Steering Committee meetings (all minutes and materials are available online at http://www.opengovpartnership.org/news). These discussions have informed the following conception of the IRM:

The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) is to be a key means by which all stakeholders can track the progress of OGP participating countries in implementing their commitments, as well as promote strong accountability between member governments and citizens. Every year, OGP will issue an independent assessment report for each OGP participating country, as a complement to governments’ own self-assessment reports and independent civil society monitoring. The IRM is in charge of overseeing this process on behalf of OGP to ensure its credibility and independence.

IRM reports will look at whether governments implemented the commitments made within their country action plans as well as whether they followed the OGP guidelines in developing that plan. IRM reports takes the commitments governments have made at face value, and assesses to what extent governments have delivered on these commitments. The IRM will also assess and verify to the extent possible the improvements these commitments have made for citizens. These reports are intended to help promote stronger accountability between citizens and their governments, and ensure governments are living up to OGP process requirements.

The IRM will be overseen by an international expert panel appointed by the OGP Steering Committee. The expert panel will be charged with identifying respected local experts in each OGP participating country to draft these reports. Additionally this expert panel will develop a common framework and questionnaire for all local country researchers, and provide peer review to ensure that the highest standards of research and due diligence are applied for every report.

The final country reports will be drafted by well-respected local experts from each OGP member country, using the IRM’s common framework, drawing on a combination of interviews with local OGP stakeholders, analysis of relevant data, and governments’ own self-assessment reports.

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