OGP Working Groups Seek to Clarify Their Missions

14 October 2014

The five working groups of the Open Government Partnership are seeking clarification on their roles in order “to facilitate and amplify their efforts,” according to the minutes of two meetings released Oct. 14.

The topic was one of many policy and procedure topics addressed at an OGP Steering Committee session held Sept. 24 in New York. (The minutes are posted on the OGP website.)

The Steering Committee approved a new “response” policy for handling complaints that members were restricting civic society activities. (See previous FreedomInfo.org reports.) Also adopted was a “Charter” describing in more detail the workings of the Independent Review Mechanism, the process through which national action plans are evaluated.

The committee endorsed having “high-level principles” for the yet unnamed senior world leaders to be called OGP Ambassadors. “After consultation with the wider OGP community on potential candidates, final appointments will be subject to endorsement by the Steering Committee,” according to the minutes.

A “more logical metric” was adopted to judge candidate countries on whether public officials disclose their assets. The 13 member countries whose scores will be reduced will not be penalized.

The fundraising report was positive. The Steering Committee continued to grapple, inconclusively, with how to establish itself as a non-profit entity.

Role of Working Groups Discussed

No firm conclusions were reached on the identity issues raised by the working groups but work on the subject will continue.

The minutes indicate that the Steering Committee was supportive of their work and cautioned against over-bureaucratization. (See some dated information about the working groups on the OGP website here.)

The same topic was discussed the day before by the Peer Learning and Support Subcommittee and the chairs of the working groups. (The minutes are posted on the OGP website.)

“The Working Groups requested clearer guidance on their mandate, status, and authority within the context of OGP’s strategic objectives and theory of change,” according to the subcommittee minutes. “Moreover, they seek closer integration with OGP processes—particularly the action plan cycle—to take advantage of strategic opportunities for intervention and support.”

Among other things, the chairmen asked if the groups could play more of a proactive advocacy role and if they can promote international open government norms.

The subcommittee made no recommendations to the steering committee, and the minutes indicate that the subcommittee will work with the OGP Support Unit staff “to develop clearer guidance on the status of OGP’s thematic working groups, as well as strategies to scale up working group activities in the coming year.”

Pledges Disclosed

The OGP has also recently issued a 40-page “Outcome Statement” from the OGP “High-Level Event” held in New York City Sept. 24.

In addition to recapping the event, the document includes an “Annex of Pledges” from countries and civil society groups to help their peers. For example, “Sweden supports countries in monitoring aid transparency as well as developing International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) commitments and a transparency guarantee.”

“Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Panama, and Uruguay will work with governments to promote access to public information,” the OGP reports.

“The objective is to promote more peer exchange activities between different users of the OGP platform,” according to Joe Powell, OGP deputy director.

Visit FreedomInfo.org archive of more than 200 articles on the OGP here.

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