OGP Releases 11 Letters of Caution to Members

18 August 2014

The Open Government Partnership has made public 11 letters informing member governments they were not in compliance with their OGP commitments.

The letters, sent in April but only now released, point out a variety of issues

Repeat offenses could lead to reconsideration of a government’s participation in the 64-member organization.

In some instances, the governments have rectified the problem identified in the letters, signed by OGP Executive Director Linda Frey.

Mongolia has released a National Action Plan (NAP). Lithuania has recently released a new NAP and has begun implementation. Trinidad and Tobago is close to finishing its first NAP.

On the other hand, neither Malta nor Turkey has produced a second action plan, which were due  June 15.

The OGP process involves governments making voluntary commitments in action plans after a participatory process, followed by a self-assessment of progress and an independent analysis. The 64 members are divided into four cohorts with varying deadlines mostly depending on the date they joined. For details, on the OGP website see a chart at the bottom of the page “dates and deadlines.”

The Independent Reporting Mechanism has published 43 reports. Twenty-seven countries have published their second plan, with more expected in the coming weeks.

The OGP Steering Committee earlier this year adopted a policy for handling noncompliance with OGP commitments, detailed on the OGP website. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) Essentially, two warnings in a row would trigger a discussion about continued OGP membership – the sanction that the organization, founded on inclusion, voluntary goal-setting and mutual support, hopes to avoid. A country will be in breach if it does not publish a NAP within 4 months of the due date. 

The first cautions came in February of 2104 when the Steering Committee in a public statement saying Lithuania, Malta and Turkey had failed to meet their commitments by missing a September deadline to submit a self-assessment and seemed to have gone underground. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

Deviated from its presumption of openness policy, the OGP delaying the release of the 11 April 30 letters. The blog post explanation says:

The letters were sent in April in order to give countries adequate time to make any necessary changes before finalizing their second National Action Plans, which were due on July 1st, 2014.

OGP operates on a presumption of openness in all of its activities, and the Criteria and Standards subcommittee deemed these letters to be in the public interest. However, as there was short notice between the clarification of the rules by the subcommittee and the deadline for the new National Action Plans to be submitted, the subcommittee recommended that the letters be published after the action plan deadline had passed. This was to prevent any disruption to the countries’ efforts to address the issues raised by the IRM in their new plans.

“OGP made a pretty big error interpreting what “presumption of openness” means,” commented the Sunlight Foundation’s John Wunderlich on Twitter, “choosing between uninterrupted action plans and public knowledge of gov’t failures, OGP sided with govts.”

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