UK Proposes Four Top Priorities for OGP

26 September 2012

The United Kingdom has proposed four top priorities for its upcoming year as the lead co-chair of the 57-nation Open Government Partnership.

The UK list puts an emphasis on demonstrating the value of transparency and open governments while also addressing the strengthening of the OGP organizationally.

The UK issued the list and requested comments on it in advance a Sept. 26 steering committee meeting and the OGP first anniversary celebration in New York.

The four priorities are:

– Show that transparency drives prosperity, by demonstrating the value of open governance, inclusive development and citizen empowerment.

– Secure the foundations of the OGP as a globally recognised and respected international initiative

– Do more to communicate the opportunities that open government provides.

– Build on the unique working relationship between participating governments and CSOs that is a fundamental facet of the OGP .

The UK’s four-part statement of priorities was issued with a request for comments, “so we can be challenged on whether this is the best set of priorities, and supported to fulfil our aspirations for the OGP by the experience, vision and expertise of our partners.”

The agenda was previewed last week by Sophia Oliver, the UK’s lead OGP official, who said the “top number one priority,” is to “get an effective independent reporting mechanism in place,” referring to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). (See previous Freedominfo.org report.)

The other co-chair is now Indonesia, Brazil having finished its term as lead co-chair. A third co-chair was chosen by the civil society organizations who make up half of the OGP Steering Committee, Warren Krafchik, Senior Vice President for International Programs of the International Budget Partnership at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Steering Committee held a closed meeting on Sept. 26, with one topic being the Independent Review Mechanism.

Maude Discusses UK Role

In addition, UK Cabinet Minister Francis Maude published an article Sept. 26 about the UK’s intentions, promising to “lead by example.”

He said:

Over the next 12 months, our aim is to further secure the foundations of the Open Government Partnership as a globally recognised and respected international initiative. We will strengthen the role of civil society organisations, encouraging greater collaboration with governments to forge more innovative and open ways of working. And we will work with emerging powers to help them embed principles of transparency and openness.

Maude also wrote:

As lead co-chair of the Open Government Partnership, the United Kingdom will lead by example. Data.gov.uk, our web portal, is already the largest data resource in the world with over 40,000 files online. We’ve also ensured that every British government department has specific new open data commitments in their business plans. But we aren’t stopping there. Alongside our international work through the partnership, Britain will keep driving forward our domestic transparency agenda.

Today, we’ve launched a new tool through the Open Data User Group which allows anyone to petition the government to release data sets that aren’t currently available. Individuals and businesses can complete an online form, describing what data they want and what benefits its release would bring.

And we have also just announced plans to open up more business data. This will allow consumers to compare companies’ environmental or community performance as easily as they can compare prices when choosing a product.

Priority Statement Text

In full, the priority statement says:

Priority 1

Show that transparency drives prosperity, by demonstrating the value of open governance, inclusive development and citizen empowerment.

We’d like to work with our partners in the OGP to do this by:

  • Communicating the exciting examples of open government creating growth in participating countries – and enabling participants to replicate that activity at home;
  • Driving the uptake of media and technological solutions for publishing and using open data; and,
  • Identifying opportunities for commerce and civil society across participating countries to develop relationships with different OGP participants in the field of open government.

Priority 2

Secure the foundations of the OGP as a globally recognised and respected international initiative that non-participating countries will aspire to join, and with participating countries that seek to uphold the values OGP promotes. Working with our colleagues we’ll do this by:

  • Putting an excellent Independent Reporting Mechanism in place;
  • Appointing an International Expert Panel to oversee the IRM;
  • Ensuring the right mechanisms are embedded to ensure full clarity and transparency around the objectives and workings of the OGP; and,
  • Ensuring the Central Support Unit meets the needs of the OGP as it expands in size and scale.

Priority 3

Do more to communicate the opportunities that open government provides.

We’d like to work with our partners in OGP to do this by:

  • Doing more to highlight the progress and achievements set out in country plans;
  • Developing partnerships at national and regional level to expedite progress by learning from one another – including partnerships the UK is setting up on data standards, smart cities and data portals; and,
  • Engaging with participants, observers and other multilateral fora to show how transparency can improve public services and governance, promote innovation, reduce corruption and drive sustainable economic growth – as well as provide valuable input to debates on future global development goals, post-2015.

Priority 4

Build on the unique working relationship between participating governments and CSOs that is a fundamental facet of the OGP – improving further on the ways that CSOs work with the OGP Steering Committee and participating governments as equal partners. We want to work with our partners to do this by:

  • Drawing on the experience of participants at local, regional and global levels to generate even more effective working models and networks; and,
  • Encouraging pilots for more innovative and open ways of working between government and CSOs.

We believe that, together with our co-chairs and the participants in the OGP, we can deliver this set of priorities, and move the OGP from commitment to action – and that in a year’s time the OGP will be globally renowned as an efficient, effective and visionary partnership, and one that is proven in transforming societies around the world.

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