OGP Sees Promise in New National Action Plans

29 October 2014

With a new batch of 30 national action plans to review, Open Government Partnership staffers like what they are seeing.

Improvements are being seen in how the plans are being created and in specificity of the commitments.

These observations were offered during a presentation in Washington by Joseph Foti, the manager of the Independent Review Mechanism and the OGP statistician-in-chief.

The existing database of OGP commitments will be released in November, enhanced through subject matter tagging. The data will now be searchable by 43 such tags, such as “procurement” and ”revenue collection.”

Preliminary signs of progress are now possible as new action plans come in and can be compared with an existing database, summarized in a major report issued in September (See highlights here, along with links).

More Commitments

The number of commitments is going up, Foti reported. There were 958 separate activities in the first 43 action plans. In the most recent 30 plans there are about 1,400.

The increase in part reflects more specificity in the commitments, he said. The OGP has worked informally with countries to encourage less general and more measurable commitments.

Also encouraging, Foti said is evidence of improvement in the public processes that countries are supposed to use when writing their plans. The number of “in-person consultations” has risen from 74 percent to at or near 100 percent, he reported.

“Governments and civil society are working together and are learning to write better action plans,” he commented. The enhanced database will be released in connection with the OGP Regional Meeting for the Americas will take place in San José, Costa Rica on Nov. 18-19, preceded by a Civil Society Day, Nov. 17.

There’s more to do, Foti said, saying that in many countries civil society lacks adequate capacity to participate, to develop shadow action plans and produce their own progress reports.

Another flickering signal is that member countries seem to paying attention to so-called “starred” commitments – a category created by the IRM to measure more relevant, ambitious commitments that are completed. About a quarter of the commitments in the first plans were “starred.”

Similarly, Foti noted, some countries appear to be following the recommendations in the IRM reports, prepared by independent evaluators. The IRM reports measure member country’s fulfillment of their commitments, and the reviewers have some latitude to make comments.

Foti indicated that future IRM reports will include five key recommendations, one of which will be about the process.

Three countries – Lithuania, Malta and Turkey – had fallen well behind in the OGP process, but Foti said, “I think some of them are coming back on board now.”

 

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