Perfect Score Club at OGP Has 16 Members Out of 58

3 December 2012

Sixteen of the 58 members of the Open Government Partnership have the highest score they could have achieved on the OGP eligibility criteria, according to a FreedomInfo.org tally.

Or, looked at another way, 42 countries did not get the top rating, although eligible to join.

Eleven countries rated a 16 on the 16 point, four category scale. This metric applied to 42 countries, but  because of a lack of information on fiscal transparency for some countries, 16 countries were judged on a 12 point scale, with five getting the top possible score.

Hence, 16 countries were the best they could be on the OGP scales.

The 42 countries that do not score 100 percent were qualified for membership based on 75 percent compliance.

With the minimum standards of OGP membership not considered too onerous, OGP officials are looking for current members to improve. Progress on the eligibility criteria is encouraged but not required under OGP rules.

Member governments must track their efforts toward fulfilling commitments made in their national action plans, also subject to independent reviews.  However, there is no specific mandate for members to reach a perfect score on the eligibility criteria.

A document prepared for the Steering Committee meeting on Dec. 4 in London seeks to convey the message of improvement as a goal, stating in part:

As part of its effort to encourage a “race to the top” on open government, OGP strongly encourages participating countries to make continual progress on the eligibility criteria after joining the initiative. This is an important demonstration of participating countries’ commitment to the OGP Declaration of Principles and process.  Progress on eligibility criteria will be included in IRM country reports.

There are four equally weighted categories for eligibility: fiscal transparency, access to information, asset disclosure by public officials and civic engagement. (See criteria detail and spreadsheet on the OGP website.) Seventy-nine countries were eligible in 2011 when invitations were issued. The OGP has said they do not intend to revise the standards, but does plan to redo the evaluations in early 2013.

Eligibility Score Accounting

For 42 of the OGP’s 58 members, achieving a score of 16 was possible. Eleven scored 16, 31 did not.

There are 16 members with possible top scores of 12.  Of these, five  had the top score and 11 did not.

The lower level of 12 points was set because some countries had not been included in the baseline survey used for the scoring, the 2010 Open Budget Survey by the International Budget Project.

To qualify for membership, countries must score at least 75% of the total possible points available to them (e.g. 12 out of 16, or 9 out of 12).  

Areas for Improvement

Where is there room for improvement?

From a numeric standpoint, among the 32 countries needing 16-points,  eight of them scored 12 points, eight scored 13 points, 6 scored 14points and 9 scored 15 points.

Of the 11-members of the 12-point group, there are six countries with 11 points, four with 10 points, and one with 9 points.

Some scores may have changes since the ratings were done, but no new official assessment has been made.

Scores below four appear in many categories and there does not appear to be a pattern of deficiencies in any particular area.

OGP Note on Eligibility

A draft  “note” on the eligibility mechanism was prepared for the Dec. 4 Steering Committee meeting in London. (See No. 13 in the list of documents here.)

It describes the background of the criteria.

The OGP eligibility criteria are therefore intended to help OGP assess a minimum baseline commitment to open government among potential participating countries, focusing on the areas of fiscal transparency, access to information, asset disclosure and civic participation. These criteria are by no means a gold standard for open government, but demonstrated performance on them suggests government willingness to target key open government reforms that OGP seeks to champion in participating countries.  This decision—to use minimum standards instead of more ambitious entry criteria—was taken by the founding Steering Committee members to enable those countries at the early stages of open government reforms to have access to the knowledge, resources and support community that OGP offers.

Regarding the possibility of changing the standards, it states:

At present, there are no plans to change OGP’s eligibility criteria.  The Steering Committee will continually review indices related to measuring performance in the OGP eligibility categories, and will consider the utility and advisability of adopting overlooked, innovative or improved sources for measuring performance on a regular and systematic basis in the eligibility categories as they are brought to the Steering Committees attention or otherwise become available.  This process will seek to guarantee that no currently participating country is penalized by these changes.

 On plans to update the scores, the note says:

The new eligibility spreadsheet will be prepared by the Support Unit, vetted by the Criteria and Standards sub-committee, endorsed by the OGP Steering Committee, and ultimately posted on the OGP website by mid-February, along with a note summarizing any changes in country eligibility that year.  Countries will be notified of any changes in eligibility by the OGP Steering Committee prior to those changes being posted.

Scoring System Explained

The scoring system in brief:

–          Fiscal Transparency: 2  points each for the publication of the executive’s budget proposal and 2  points for publication of an audit report

–          Access to Information: 4 points awarded to countries with access to information laws in place, 3 points if a country has a constitutional provision guaranteeing access to information, and 1 point if a country has a draft access to information law under consideration

–          Financial Disclosure by Public Officials: 4 points awarded to countries with a law requiring disclosures for politicians and senior public officials to the public, 3 points awarded to countries with either a law requiring disclosures for politicians OR senior public officials to the public, and 2 points awarded for a law requiring non-public disclosures for elected or senior officials

–          Civic Engagement: 4 points depending the score achieved on an index of civil liberties.

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