OGP May Modify Selection Plan for CSO Leadership

29 October 2012

The Open Government Partnership is considering a substantially simplified system for selecting new civil society members for the OGP Steering Committee.

Instead of planned elections, the OGP has proposed creating a selection committee to pick new members.

Public comments on the plan were requested in an OGP Twitter message that announced the “rotation note” proposal.

The Steering Committee previously had described a process for transforming the composition of the Steering Committee, which has nine representatives from governments and nine from civil society. The current members are mainly the founding members of the OGP, and the goal is to have a fully elected governing body.

The existing plan in the Articles of Governance approved in March would begin the transition in 2012 with six out of the current 18 members leaving the SC. The OGP had indicated in April that three government members and three CSO members would volunteer to leave the Steering Committee, but so far there has been no announcement of which governments will step aside.

CSO Election Plan May Be Dropped

Under the Articles, three new government members would be elected by the 57 member governments, but more complicated are the procedures for electing the new members to represent civil society and nongovernmental organization.  A re-examination of the complex plan began in July. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

The election plan for the CSO/NGO members envisioned two pools of electors being created. Half of them, equal in number to the number of OGP countries, would represent specific member countries, now 57. They would be selected by civil society groups in each country in conjunction with the OGP staff. The OGP has financially supported most CSO representatives to allow them to attend the annual meeting. The other electors would represent international NGOs and were to be picked based on the basis of who applied first.

This pool of 114 persons (at the current membership level) would vote on self-nominated candidates.

Complications Seen

The rotation note cites several concerns, beginning with the comment that the period around the conference “is already a very busy period.”

 The note continues:

Second, the idea of one person voting per country brings the problem of how to identify and select one person as a representative of the diversity of civil society in his/her country. Additionally, the idea of OGP funding the participation of the person that votes for his/her country could be seen as interfering with free and independent voting. Lastly, asking the Support Unit to manage the process of identifying the voter and managing the further process imposes a substantial additional burden to the functions of the SU, and may hinder CS freedom to choose among itself.

 New Procedures Proposed

The new plan envisions a nominations and endorsements process beginning Jan. 15 with an announcement about who is departing and an explanation of the process.  Applications would be due by Feb. 23.

A “selection committee will assess and rank candidates using criteria and needs stipulated in announcement note, final candidates will be presented to and endorsed by civil society SC members.”

The selection committee would be comprised of two current (or past) SC members, 2 volunteers from the broader OGP CSO community and the OGP Civil Society Coordinator, Paul Maassen.

Maassen would pick the members of the selection committee. The rotation note explains: 

Candidates for the selection committee are invited to send a short motivation letter to the civil society coordinator, who will assess them along a few publicly articulated criteria (such as experience with recruitment processes, experience with SC type of governance mechanisms, time commitment).

Many factors are articulated for the selection committee to consider, including diversity and regional representation.

The selection committee’s recommendations will then be “endorsed by the full set of civil society Steering Committee members.”

The selected replacement members would be announced March 15.

The rationale for the revisions is summarized:

The main proposed change to the current rotation system is to suggest the selection is done by a committee, accompanied by a strong, transparent, and bottom up nomination process. A committee is best placed to match the needs of the SC with the profile of the candidates, to ensure an effective, proactive, strategic team of civil society members that can guide OGP in the right direction. Second, it is difficult to design a voting process that is more inclusive than the current process of one voter per country, and at the same time is not resource-heavy.

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