OGP Drafts Strategic Plan; Debates Other Issues in Bali

23 May 2014

The Open Government Partnership Steering Committee has developed a four-year strategy to deepen the impact of the OGP’s work.

Looking at a growing budget to accomplish its goals, the committee agreed that the OGP “will expect” financial contributions from members.

These and other matters were handled at a two-day closed meeting May 4-5 in Bali. The minutes were recently released.

In other decisions, the OGP leaders decided to expand the size of the committee slightly, from 18 to 22 members (11 for both government and civil society). Selection processes for replacing existing members have generally been established, but the committee could not reach agreement on a plan for regional elections of government representatives.

On the organizational front, the civil society coordination team — which has operated in close conjunction with, but formally separate from, the OGP Support Unit — is going to be integrated with the Support Unit.

“Many members expressed agreement that OGP needs to do more to support civil society’s engagement in OGP, and that doing so requires more capacity within the Support Unit to encourage and mobilize civil society engagement,” according to the minutes.

The minutes also suggest that the next government to be the lead co-chair will be South Africa, or possibly the Philippines.

Indonesia is the current lead chair, with Mexico next in line. Of the other governments on the Steering Committee, the governments of Norway and Tanzania have said they are not interested in being the lead chair, a commitment that has included hosting meetings and substantial costs. South Africa has expressed interest, however, and the Philippines had not officially responded but was given until the end of May to decide.

The challenges facing the Steering Committee are discussed in a May 23 blog post by a committee co-chair, Suneeta Kaimal, deputy director of Revenue Watch Institute – Natural Resource Charter.

Revenue Watch Institute – Natural Resource Charter – See more at: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/blog/suneetakaimal/2014/05/23/rotating-future-challenges-and-opportunities-changing-leadership#sthash.x35ahalp.dpuf
Revenue Watch Institute – Natural Resource Charter – See more at: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/blog/suneetakaimal/2014/05/23/rotating-future-challenges-and-opportunities-changing-leadership#sthash.x35ahalp.dpuf

 Civic Space Plan Discussed

The Steering Committee agreed in principle on a plan to engage and potentially suspend member governments that inhibit “civic space.” (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

The minutes say little about the concerns expressed that inhibited endorsement of the proposal, which had the strong support of the civic society organization representative who make up half of the OGP Steering Committee.

According to the minutes:

 Some SC members endorsed the principle of the policy but requested several additional weeks to consult on the detail of how it would be implemented. The Steering Committee agreed that a legal review of the policy would be needed before it is finalized. The issue of the capacity of OGP as a whole to implement the policy was also raised.

Four-Year Strategy Endorsed

 The four-year strategy makes recommendations to reach four “strategic objectives:

 – Maintain High-Level Political Leadership and Commitment to OGP

 – Support and Empower Government Reformers with Technical Expertise and Inspiration

–  Foster More Engagement in OGP by a Diverse Group of Civil Society Actors

– Ensure that Participating Countries Are Held Accountable for Making Progress toward Achieving Their OGP Commitments

According to the minutes, the draft four-year strategy includes recommendations to:

Broaden and deepen OGP’s network of reformers.

Increase OGP’s visibility as a platform.

Provide stronger incentives for accountability and results.

Renew SC leadership with more focus on external outreach.

Increase support for on-the-ground implementation in OGP countries.

Experiment with bringing local governments into OGP.

The final strategy will be posted on the OGP website once Steering Committee recommendations are incorporated.

(The draft strategy was not among the documents posted along with other pre-meeting materials. A copy of the draft was provided to FreedomInfo.org.)

Among other things, there are plans for a better communications strategy, an “external review” and more evaluation of the OGP’s impact.

The minutes include a list of “areas for improvement” suggested by members.

More emphasis on the IRM and its role. Make the link between the external communications strategy and effective dissemination of IRM reports.

Primary focus is on domestic implementation — may need to say more about the international level, for example how to ‘transfer’ successful initiatives from one country to another.

Would benefit from a more coherent framework that knits together Learning and Impact, Monitoring and Evaluation, and the IRM to inform learning more broadly.

More emphasis on how to ensure that a government’s OGP commitments are ‘institutionalized’ throughout the bureaucracy to ensure impact and uptake beyond one agency or ministry.

Should recognize existing examples of OGP engaging other branches of government, e.g. legislative and judiciary, noting that this is an area for future growth and experimentation.

Further crystallize incentives for governments to continue to participate in OGP to promote openness through bilateral and multilateral engagement.

More emphasis on creating a network for outreach to other multilateral initiatives, in line with the strategy of the SU.

It was also decided that Steering Committee members should play “a stronger external ambassador role on behalf of OGP.”

The Steering Committee held discussions on the Independent Review Mechanism used to evaluate national action plans and on the OGP’s support for governments. The minutes summarize recent effort on all fronts and future plans.

Contribution Rates Established

Beginning in 2015, the OGP “will expect” all participating governments to contribute from $10,000 for low income countries to $100,000 USD for high income countries.

Very few of the 63 members have contributed thus far.

To date, private foundation donors have granted a total of $2.67 million and governments (including bilateral donors) have contributed $2.25 million. Some governments have also made substantial in-kind contributions, especially in terms of hosting OGP summits and other events.

The SC adopted the following resolution:

 The Steering Committee will request the following annual contributions from participating governments:

Income Tier

Minimum Contribution

Recommended Contribution

Tier 1 – Low Income

$10,000

$25,000

Tier 2 – Lower middle income

$25,000

$50,000

Tier 3 – Upper middle income

$50,000

$100,000

Tier 4 – High income

$100,000

$200,000

The Steering Committee agreed on some consequences for nonpayment, but avoided making contributions mandatory. A footnote in the strategic plan explains:

Interviews with members and stakeholders revealed mixed support for universal member contributions. Roughly half of respondents endorsed universal contributions, while others opposed it. Most of the opposition was on practical grounds. Respondents felt that, given the bureaucratic hurdles to processing payments, transaction costs would be too high.

The adopted resolution reads as follows:

The Steering Committee resolves that governments that for two successive years have not made financial contributions to OGP at or above the minimum amount for their income tier will not be eligible to run for a seat on the OGP Steering Committee or participate in any formal vote of OGP members. The only exception to this rule would be if the Support Unit, in consultation with the Governance and Leadership subcommittee, determines that there are legitimate obstacles for a government’s failure to contribute that the government is making a concerted effort to overcome. While all participating governments are expected and encouraged to contribute, failure to make a financial contribution will not result in the suspension of a government’s membership in OGP or any of its committees, nor will it affect said government’s ability to participate in OGP events.

The strategic plan provide additional detail on the fiscal future. It states:

Once the universal contribution model is established, it will help provide a stable and solid revenue base for OGP’s core work. If most countries (i.e. 80 percent or more) make their suggested contributions, this mechanism will yield about $3M a year in core funding for OGP. Actual response rates are difficult to predict,[1] but are likely to be closer to 20-25 percent at first, gradually building up to 50-60 percent as payment norms are established. Realistically, we expect that this model, when fully established, will yield $1.5M-$2.5M annually for OGP programs.

 Donor Contributions

 Even as OGP gradually broadens the base of contributing governments, it will continue to rely on foundation donors, as well as bilateral and multilateral aid agencies. In fact, its reliance on donor funds will likely increase in the near term as it works to institute this new funding model. Reliable donor funding is needed to backstop budget shortfalls and sustain communication and services to ensure that more countries step up to contribute. Over the next four years (2015-2018), OGP expects to raise $20 million from the following sources:

$10M from foundations

$4M-$6M from bilateral donor agencies

$4M-$6M from participating governments

The plan also provides more detail than ever before on projected staffing and expenses. The projected budget for 2014 is $4 million and for 2015 is $4.6 million.

Election Plan Unresolved

A proposed plan for electing new government members to the Steering Committee using five regional groupings ran into some objections and the minutes indicate that a compromise will be worked on.

Names are not used in the minutes, which indicate that ““several members” argued that Europe should be considered as one region, not two, and that the committee “should carefully consider which approach would best ensure that incoming SC members have the capacity and commitment to effectively lead OGP.”

Consensus also was not reached on a proposal to address interest in joining OGP by governments not formally recognized by the United Nations, but efforts to reach agreement are expected by the end of May.

 (For more than 200 FreedomInfo.org article on the OGP, see here.)

 

 

 

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