Information Technology Leads OGP Commitments

30 July 2012

Information technology projects are the most popular commitments made by countries in their national action plans submitted as members of the Open Government Partnership, according to a new analysis by Global Integrity.

The Washington-based nongovernment organization, which also leads the OGP’s Networking Mechanism, categorized the 45 available action plans using 53 subject tags.

The two top categories —  “Open Data” and “E-Government” — account for nearly a third of all the commitments.  “If the OGP had a penny for every mention of the establishment of a website, the Partnership would fund itself,” quipped a blog on the study that links to the study.

Global Integrity’s Abhinav Bahl also commented that “the preponderance of information technology projects in national action plans deserves further consideration.” He said:

The appetite for neat technological fixes to complex problems shouldn’t eclipse the need for politically difficult but fundamental reform. Eventually all technological solutions run into the limits imposed by the institutional, legal, political, and socio-cultural contexts in which they are embedded. Therefore, essential reforms should be encouraged from the outset to alleviate the unique structural constraints prevalent in particular country contexts. Doing that would expand the frontier of possibility so open data and related technologies can maximize their potential.

The third most popular category was ‘Citizen Engagement,” which Bahl called “encouraging.” Bahl noted that many civil society groups have complained about being excluded from action plan consultations. “The relative popularity of citizen engagement commitments presents a real window of opportunity for citizens to create spaces for deeper engagement with the state on a variety of open government issues,” he commented.

The fourth most common category is “Access to Information,” according to the Global Integrity study.

Global Integrity observed that “private sector issues are conspicuously underrepresented in country action plans. “ Another “blind spot,” Bahl wrote “is the marginalization of commitments dealing with the legislative and judicial branches of government.” Also, “Despite the financial crisis giving way to a long tail of persistent recessions globally, not a single country directly commits to opening up financial institutions or services.”  Extractive industries and natural resource issues were not raised much either, the study found.

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