OGP Decides to Extend Cycle for Action Plans, Reviews

13 May 2013

The Open Government Partnership has agreed to provide more time for member countries to write new action plans and assess their progress, and to have their performances reviewed by independent parties.

OGP leaders meeting in London April 22-24 decided it would be better to institute a two-year cycle for these fundemental activities rather than the originally planned one-year schedule, according to the minutes of the meeting.

Countries will be on staggered schedules largely depending on when they joined the OGP. A “timeline” for future activities by member countries has now been posted on the OGP website.

There are three groupings, based on their time of membership.

The founding eight countries a month ago turned in their self-assessments of how well they fulfilled their commitments. Their action plans were presented in September of 2011, as the OGP was officially organized. All eight are now having their performance assessed by independent reviewers, whose yet-unannounced names have been provided to FreedomInfo.org.

The largest cohort, of 39 countries, will be submitting self-assessments and undergoing independent reviews this year. 

At the London meeting, eight of the most recent joiners introduced their first action plans (Argentina, Costa Rica, Finland, Ghana, Hungary, Liberia, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago). Serbia had been expected to present, too, but decided not to attend after a delay in approving its plan.

Independent Reviews Under Way

Eight independent reviews of how countries have did in fulfilling their action plans are just getting started. The work is being done under the guidance of the Independent Review Mechanism, the OGP branch that selects and guides independent reviewers.

Reviewers of the first founding countries’ plans have been trained and begun their work.

They are:

  • ·  Brazil: Vera Schattan Ruas Pereira Coelho and Laura Waisbich from Centro Brasileiro de Analise e Planejamento (CEBRAP)
  • ·  Indonesia: Chitra Retna from Article 33 Indonesia
  • ·  Mexico: Paulina Gutierrez and Almudena Ocejo from Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores y Antropologia Social (CIESAS)
  • ·  Norway: Christopher Wilson from the Engine Room and Joachim Nahem on leave from UNDP Governance
  • ·  Philippines: Malou Mangahas from Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
  • ·  South Africa: Ralph Mathegka from Clear Content SA
  • ·  United Kingdom: Kevin Dunion from University of Dundee
  • ·  United States: Elaine Kamarck from Brookings Institution

The minutes summarize a discussion about different ways for the reviews to be released.

Two-Year Plan Explained

The minutes explain the reasoning for moving to a different time frame, beginning with comments by the OGP Support Unit Director Linda Frey:

The SU Director explained that this proposal was inspired in large part by OGP’s updated strategy focusing on delivery and results. Under a biannual calendar, countries will have more time to focus on implementation, as well as genuine consultation.

The IRM Program Manager and IEP are also strongly in favor of the proposal, as it would enable the IRM to coordinate staffing more effectively and potentially allocate more resources per report to ensure higher quality and more in depth reporting. There was broad consensus that a biannual calendar makes sense, but that there should still be a checkin on progress at the one year mark.

The SC therefore agreed that OGP should move toward a biannual calendar for action plans and reporting, and that the Criteria and Standards subcommittee should develop a more detailed proposal on this for review.

The changing schedule was also addressed favorably by OGP Civil Society Coordinator Paul Maassen in his April newsletter. He wrote in part:

One of the challenges in the coming months will be to work out how to improve the OGP guidance and mechanics in a way that brings additional quality and ambition to the national dialogue and to the action plans: what can be done to facilitate and strengthen CSO advocacy and monitoring efforts, how can we move from consultation to ongoing dialogue and partnership? Getting this right can bring more depth and quality to the national processes.

See related articles on the April Steering Committee meeting concerning: Finance, Stretch Goals, Elections.

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