OGP to Examine Ways to Encourage Stretch Goals

13 May 2013

The desire to see countries “stretch” to more ambitious heights has emerged as a potential goal within the Open Government Partnership, according to the minutes of the April 22-24 meeting in London.

The topic came up as OGP leaders discussed a draft strategy update.  Deliberations are expected to continue at the next Steering Committee meeting in Julyafter a concept note is developed.

“Some members of the SC felt that the proposed OGP vision statement should encourage governments to be more ambitious in their action plans,” the minutes state. The meetings are closed and the minutes do not reflect who said what.

The “stretch” idea, the minutes note, had not been discussed thoroughly by a subcommittee before the meeting. As a result, the Steering Committee “agreed in principle this was necessary, but asked for more clarification on exactly how OGP should encourage stretch,” according to the minutes.

“It was noted that the IRM [the Independent Review Mechanism] already does consider the notion of stretch, but there is not clarity on exactly how ‘stretch’ is defined or if it refers to the eligibility criteria, the commitments, or both,” the minutes continue.

“The SC therefore agreed that the Criteria and Standards Subcommittee should develop a more detailed proposal for July on defining and encouraging stretch, including on both action plans and eligibility criteria.”

The minutes indicate that the planned “concept note on how to encourage stretch” will deal with both “the level of ambition of action plans, as well as progress on eligibility criteria.”

Emphasis Put on `Deeper’

The OGP Steering Committee reached consensus to focus organizational attention on “deepening engagement in existing OGP countries.”

“SC members agreed that while individual members will still reach out to potential partners within their region, OGP should focus in the coming years on delivering results in the 58 countries that have already joined,” the minutes state.

“SC members also suggested highlighting the importance of citizen participation in policymaking and improving dialogue between government and civil society in participating countries,” according to the minutes. Improving the OGP’s external communications to better make the case for OGP with civil society networks was discussed and was the idea of bringing civil society groups to the next OGP plenary meeting in late October in London.

The idea of holding an annual “Heads of Government meeting” as a way of keeping a high profile for open government issues was discussed. Having a session on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly was discussed by no conclusion was reached on the right venue.

The idea of establishing an award won favor.

Engaging the private sector more with the OGP was another topic on which discussion as begun.

Conference Planning

Looking ahead to the OGP plenary conference Oct. 31-Nov. 1 in London, the Steering Committee brainstormed about the agenda.

“There was consensus that the look and feel of the event needs to be interactive and dynamic, and that the focus should be on tangible progress in OGP countries,” according to the minutes.

The United Kingdom, which will host the conference, outlined several ideas, including “an IRM launch event, an open government innovation award, a high level “summit” bringing together the global leaders of other transparency initiatives, a session to develop an open government charter, and a discussion on appropriate measures to take countries take actions that violate OGP principles.”

The minutes also say:

There was consensus that OGP should use the conference to focus on telling the stories of change and delivery of action plans. However, there are remaining questions about how to reconcile this objective with the need to secure high level government representation at the event.

Some governments asked for more clarity on the goals and agenda for the Annual Conference before committing their head of State to attend. There was strong support for the idea of developing an OGP Annual Prize, but some concern about the short time period to develop the competition and select winners in advance of October. One member suggested that it might be best to use the time between now and October to develop the guidelines for the competition, and then to announce the launch of the prize competition at the Annual Conference.

Among other things, Mexico proposed organizing a special session on the role of information commissions and other bodies in charge of access to information regulations

Change in Networking Mechanism

Also discussed, favorably, was a proposed strategy to have the Support Unit assume peer exchange functions now handled by the “Networking Mechanism” run by Global Integrity

Agreed to was:

The Support Unit will increase its capacity to provide three types of support to OGP countries: direct country support, peer exchange, and learning/impact. Some of the functions within these three categories that are currently outsourced to Global Integrity will be brought within the Support Unit. This shift will take place by the end of 2013 and will require revisions to the Articles of Governance.

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

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