OGP Delays Rotation Plan; Faces Major Budget Shortfall

19 April 2013

The Open Government Partnership is likely to delay plans to elect new government members to the Steering Committee and is facing a “substantial” budget gap, according to newly posted documents.

With no government members willing to step down, an OGP subcommittee has recommended that all nine government Steering Committee members stay on for another year, until September of 2014.

This and many other topics, including the budget shortfall, are on the agenda for meeting of the OGP Steering Committee meeting next week.

In another development, the OGP website now includes the self-assessment reports of the founding eight countries. They are located on the country pages, under the “Related Files” tabs. Seven of the eight reports are in English (Indonesia is still finishing their translation).  The reports describe how well the national action plans have been implemented.

Rotation Plan Delayed

The OGP last year laid out plans for a multi-year “rotation” scheme to bring in new Steering Committee members and move slowly to a fully elected committee.  The current members are mainly the founding members of the OGP. However, the plan relied on having three members voluntarily leave the committee. None did, despite speculation centered on Norway, the Philippines and South Afica as the likely candidates and considerable behind-the-scenes deplomacy. (See previous Freedominfo.org report.)

The nine Steering Committee members who represent civil society organizations recently carried out their part of the rotation plan, with three members dropping off and three new ones being chosen. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

Explaining the proposal to delay the rotation plan for government members, the subcommittee explained:

In the view of the Governance and Leadership subcommittee, this is a critical moment in OGP’s development, and we need stability and cohesion on the Steering Committee as we seek to build a stronger secretariat function. In addition, with no volunteers to step down from the  Steering Committee, we would like to avoid a potentially divisive vote to limit the term of certain members to 2 years.

During 2014, according to the proposed plan, two stages of elections would be held among the 58 member governments that could end with the addition of between three and six new government members of the Steering Committee.

The governance subcommittee also suggests that there be four OGP co-chairs, two each from government and civil society. At present, there is one civil society chair and two government chairs, currently from the United Kingdom (the lead chair) and Indonesia.

These and other prospective changes are revealed in documents just posted in advance of the April 22-24 OGP Steering Committee meeting, to be held in London. The packed draft agenda also has been updated. The meetings are closed. A list of expected participants has been posted.

Budget Shortfall Seen

Among other topics, the agenda includes a question: “Can all SC member countries commit to provide their financial contributions by June or July 2013?”  

A report from the financial subcommittee describes a “substantial” expected budget shortfall.

With a planned 2013 budget of $2.37 million, the document says, the OGP looks to be about $500,000 short, even after some cost-cutting measures.

The report recommends a variety of measures to raise more money, especially getting contributions from members.

As of early March, only six of the 58 members had contributed financially as has been previously recommended. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) The report provides little additional data on income from government, but says:

If we got 50% participation from the current 49 Countries (excluding the 9 SC members) even at the minimum level, we would raise an additional $612,500 per year. With full participation we would raise an additional $1,225,000 per year.

The OGP budgeted income from governments of $1.15 million. The budget also anticipates $1.2 million from foundation grants, including from The Hewlett Foundation and the Omidyar Network.

Scheduling and Strategy Also on Agenda

Proposals from another subcommittee would modify the schedule for the creation and assessment of national action plans, moving to a biannual schedule. Numerous recommendations are made concerning the Independent Review Mechanism that supervises the preparation of evaluations by independent experts of the national action plans.

Future OGP goals and strategy are outlined in an eight-page document, beginning the “key objective” for the next two years  “to make sure that real change is happening on the ground in a majority of OGP countries, and that this change is benefitting citizens.”

A series of changes are suggested of the “peer learning” system and other mechanisms designed to help OGP members.

Powell Named as OGP Deputy Director

Joe Powell was recently named as the OGP Support Unit’s Deputy Director. 

Powell previously worked in the UK office of the ONE Campaign, “where he has most recently been managing ONE’s global campaign for increased transparency in the extractive industries.” The announcement continued:

“As Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager at ONE, Joe also led global advocacy on the G20 and policy development for the 2013 G8.  Prior to working at ONE Joe was based in Uganda, where he launched an online current affairs platform called ‘Uganda Talks’ for the Independent, a weekly East African news magazine, and worked for Action Aid Uganda. Joe’s experience working closely with government officials, politicians, civil society activists, and journalists from around the world is a great fit for the Open Government Partnership.”

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