OGP SC Addresses Evaluations, Eligibility

16 October 2012

The Open Government Partnership Steering Committee has indicated a “strong endorsement” of efforts to encourage member countries to improve their scores on the basic eligibility criteria for membership.

The Steering Committee’s opinion is revealed in newly released minutes for its meeting of Sept. 26 in New York City.

The minutes also show that the Steering Committee (SC) supports plans to provide additional guidance to the still-unannounced experts who will oversee the independent review mechanism (IRM) and to governments.  The guidance is being drafted by a subcommittee, whose minutes were recently released. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

In addition, a very general schedule for future meetings is noted in the SC minutes.

Improving on Eligibility Scores?

The endorsement for the concept of pushing OGP members to improve their performance on the eligibility criteria could mean that some members adopt freedom of information laws, publish audit reports and release proposed budgets, the minutes suggest.

However, the Steering Committee was clear that “it does not want an overemphasis on eligibility to take away from or compete with action plan implementation….” The criteria should not be altered at the present time, the committee said, but the minutes suggest that work will be done “on improving indicators and sourcing for the current criteria, especially on asset disclosure.”

OGP eligibility is determined by scores on a 16-point scale, with 12 points necessary to get an invitation. There are 79 eligible countries, of which 59 have joined.

The minutes indicate continuing work on developing the review mechanism, in which governments evaluate their own progress on fulfilling their actions plans and independent evaluators also review the plans. The Criteria and Standards Subcommittee’s plans to write guiding principles defining the process were supported. They are expected to be considered at the next SC meeting.

The committee also reviewed the work of other subcommittees.

Meetings Planned

On scheduling, the minutes report on plans for future meetings by the United Kingdom, which is now the “lead” co-chair for OGP.

The UK is trying to schedule an SC meeting in October or November, the minutes state. Also in the works is a “peer engagement meeting with new OGP countries and SC members” in December 2012. In 2013, an SC ministerial meeting is planned for March, a working level SC meeting in June and an annual plenary in October.

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