OGP Leaders Hold Meeting on Future Directions, Strategy

18 February 2013

Leaders of the Open Government Partnership Feb. 18 held a meeting in Jakarta “to start a dialogue for renewed strategic vision & future” of the OGP, according to a tweet from the Indonesian government.

The governments of Indonesia and the United Kingdom tweeted about the meeting, the OGP “storified” the tweets, there are photos posted online, and a press conference was held, but few details have emerged yet about the “brainstorming” session.

The drafting of an OGP strategic plan has been under way the OGP for many months and came up during the last Steering Committee in December in London. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

The OGP sought public comment on a draft strategic plan in August 2012, but it has not been finalized. For the London meeting, the agenda of the subcommittee referred to a “Next Generation OGP Concept Paper.”

The Jakarta meeting was officially of the OGP Governance and Leadership Subcommittee, but its importance was elevated by the presence of the top ministers from the two OGP countries that co-chair the organization and the third co-chair, who represents civil society organizations. OGP Steering Committee and subcommittee meetings are closed, with minutes released later.

Tweets from OpenGov Indonesia@OpenGovIndo said: “Today is purely brainstorming session. After this meeting there will be several more discussions done by this group to refine the output.”

The discussions were attended by Francis Maude, UK Cabinet Office Minister; Dr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the President of Indonesia’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring; Warren Krafchik, Director of the Independent Budget Partnership and OGP Co-Chair for Civil Society; Rakesh Rajani, head of Twaneza and a civil society representative on the OGP Steering Committee; and Linda Frey, Executive Director, OGP Support Unit.

Also on the agenda, according to an official statement, were: “… transparency as a core part of the UK’s 2013 presidency of the G8, plus the work of the High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda (the successor to the eight Millennium Development Goals). There was not indication of whether the subcommittee discussed the failure of the Philippines, a member of the OGP Steering Committee, to pass a freedom of information bill, which officials had predicted would be added to the agenda. (See related FreedomInfo.org report.)

Strategic Planning Began in Mid-2012

The topic of future directions has been on the agenda of OGP subcommittee meetings since at least May of 2012 following the first plenary session of the 17-month-old organization, held in April of 2012 in Brazil. The OGP in August sought public comment on a draft strategy document and later releaseda  summary of the comments.

At the last meeting of the OGP Steering Committee in London, both the UK and Indonesian representatives addressed the subject, according to the minutes.

“The UK Government summarized its lead chair priorities, with a focus on the role of transparency in driving economic growth and prosperity for all, securing the foundation for OGP as a globally recognized and respected initiative, and focusing on the relationship between governments and civil society in delivering on action plan implementation. The UK Government noted this was a time for delivering on the OGP promise with concrete realization of commitments and having the IRM function robustly. The risk of OGP becoming an empty self-congratulatory effort for governments should be avoided, and that the active civil society position and role at all levels of the OGP structure and functioning was an essential antidote to this complacency,” according to the minutes.  

In addition, the minutes say a warm reception was given to proposals for keeping the OGP vibrant presented by the representatives from Indonesia, which in October will become the “lead” co-chair of the 58-country organization, taking over from the UK.

The minutes report:

VII. Vibrancy and Engagement

The Government of Indonesia presented ideas on next steps after the first round of country action plans, which SC members welcomed as a means to make explicit the expectation that OGP is an ongoing effort rather than a one-off commitment for participating countries.  Members particularly liked the ideas of asking countries to maintain (or increase) their current level of ambition to encourage continual progress, of allowing countries a grace period to update/refresh/create new action plans, and of maintaining momentum by potentially deepening OGP’s work with other stakeholders.  Members also endorsed the idea of active and inactive members, noting however the importance of verifying a country’s desire to be rendered “inactive” before doing so, and taking every possible step to keep all current participants as “active” status partners, including through direct consultation with the relevant governments. Members noted that consistent with the structure and spirit of OGP, country action plans are to be “co-created” by governments and civil society. The group agreed that all participating countries should send a letter to the Co-Chairs confirming their desire to continue to participate in the initiative within three months of the publication of each IRM report. Members also agreed that language on inactive countries should be elaborated to clarify how “inactive” countries can reactivate their membership.

The Steering Committee minutes also note that the topic of “Vision for country participation after first round of Action Plans” was on the agenda of the working meeting Dec. 3 of the  Governance and Leadership & Finance subcommittee.

Comments Requested on Draft

The OGP on Aug. 21, 2012, requested public comments on a two-year strategic plan built around two key elements “strengthening the core” and “maintaining vibrancy.” (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

The 14-page document begins with descriptions of OGP “values” and “the OGP offer.” It then proceeds to outline short-term and long-term goals and to discuss “measures of success.” Numerous goals and 40 action items are listed.

OGP leaders begun to review the strategic plan in July after it was drafted by a working group of OGP’s Strategy and Hiring subcommittee. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

The creation of the draft strategy document was discussed at a late May 2012 governance subcommittee meeting. The minutes state:

“There was consensus that it needed to do more to support the core OGP proposition; helping countries develop and implement their action plans,” according to the minutes. “Participants also agreed that the next version of the strategy document should lay out a detailed plan for multi-lateral engagement and cooperation as well as a methodology to gather and produce case studies that support government innovators in their effort to bring greater transparency to their own governments.”

(A plan for engaging with multilateral organizations was adopted at the December Steering Committee meeting in London.)

In May of 2012, a working group was formed to further develop a two-year strategic plan, to be finalized by the Steering Committee on July 1, 2012.

Also last year, OGP  leaders discussed its “branding” at a session with an internationally known branding expert, John Caswell, from Group partners. “Photographs and narrative from the three hour session will be circulated and made available to all SC members,” according to the minutes. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

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