Few Governments Providing Financial Support to OGP

11 March 2013

By Toby McIntosh

Only six of the 58 member countries of the Open Government Partnership have contributed financially to the young organization.

Three of the nine government members on the Steering Committee have not provided any funding – Indonesia, Mexico and Tanzania.

The lack of contributions comes despite long-standing expectations of voluntary government support, especially from the founding members who make up the Steering Committee. Suggested contribution levels, graduated by country size, were promulgated in December in an attempt to prompt action in the face of cash-flow concerns.

The OGP’s planned $2.3 million budget for this year relies on getting both government and private sector funding, with the goal being a 50-50 balance.

Six Governments Write Checks

The OGP website includes some information on income received. For governments it provides cumulative totals:

Government of the United States: $200,000

 Government of Norway: $187,782

 Government of the United Kingdom: $252,832

 Government of South Africa: $50,000

 Government of the Philippines: $50,000

 Government of Brazil: $705,000 (This entry is accompanied by the note: “Towards organizing the 2012 OGP Annual Conference in Brasilia.”)

The United Kingdom, now the lead co-chair, is also looking at expenses this year. The Steering Committee met in London in December and will convene there again in late April; plus the UK will host the annual plenary meeting is scheduled for October.

Some governments are working through their budget processes to make contributions, FreedomInfo.org was told.

Dues Structure Set

Last December in London, facing what the minutes called “liquidity challenges,” the Steering Committee set up suggested levels for annual contributions. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

Deciding that governments should provide half of the budget, the committee adopted a sliding scale for “minimum contributions” from countries represented on the Steering Committee: $200,000 per year for high income countries, $100,000 for medium income countries, and $50,000 for low income countries. Contributions from other OGP countries will be requested, according to the minutes. There is no deadline for the contributions.

Although the Steering Committee members concurred that relying on private foundations is unsustainable over the long term, funding from governments has been “less reliable,” according to the minutes.

The OGP budget will grow in 2013 to $2.3 million and in 2014 is budgeted for $2.4 million (on a calendar year basis), according to documents posted before the meeting. The OGP had planned to spend almost $1.5 million in its first year of operation (when the fiscal year planned for was Oct. 30 – Nov. 1), according to a posted budget. (See previous FredomInfo.org report.)

No reports on spending have been posted.

Donor Funding

The OGP has depended heavily on donor funding since its inception.

Unnamed private foundations were expected to provide more grants, the London minutes state.

The most recent donation was $400,000 from the Open Society Foundations in March 2013, according to the website.

The website reports that a total of $1,213,500 has been received from the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, a donor collaborative of DFID (the UK development agency), Ford Foundation, Hivos, Hewlett Foundation, International Budget Partnership, Omidyar Network, Open Society Foundations and Revenue Watch Institute.

It goes on to say:

The most recent contributions for the current budget include $400,000 from the Hewlett Foundation in November 2011, $480,000 from the Omidyar Network in March 2012, and $400,000 from Open Society Foundations in March 2013,” according to the website, which reports the figures in narrative, not in a spreadsheet format.

Those three contributions total $1,280,000.

The website also credits Google for providing support.  The entry says:

Google: $350,000

Includes support for OGP’s website development and the September 20, 2011 Power of Open event.

The “Power of Open” event was a conference held in New York in conjunction with the official OGP kick-off.

Contributions Strongly Encouraged in Past

The OGP Steering Committee’s latest effort to get contributions, while still based on the idea of voluntary contributions, is more specific than the “strongly encouraged” exhortation in the Articles of Governance adopted in April 2012, which said in part:

OGP is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative. It is funded by voluntary monetary support from OGP participating governments and grants from bilateral and multilateral donors, and other agencies, organizations and entities.

OGP may also receive and use voluntary in-kind donations from OGP participating governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, and others.

 In order to cover costs attributable to meeting its responsibilities set out in Section VI, OGP may accept voluntary payments from governments or civil society organizations in the amount of no less than USD $50,000. Governments and civil society organizations represented on the Steering Committee are strongly encouraged to contribute to OGP’s mission and operations. Steering Committee governments or civil society organizations unable to make such voluntary payments should write to the co-chairs explaining the reasons for not making this payment.

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