With Mexican Summit Ahead, OGP Subcommittees Busy

12 March 2015

The next Open Government Partnership Global Summit meeting will likely be held during the last week of October somewhere in Mexico.

In the meantime, the OGP Steering Committee, subcommittees and staff are developing plans and policies and dealing with finances and organizational issues.

At a subcommittee meeting March 11, representatives from Malta and Turkey were called in to discuss their faltering participation.

OGP committee and subcommittee meetings are closed and no information on the outcome was immediately available, but the organization in 2014 began to post subcommittee agendas and minutes as well as agendas, working papers and minutes for Steering Committee meetings. The next Steering Committee meeting will be held April 22-23 in Mexico City at ministerial level. The Mexican government is currently the OGP lead chair.

Subjects such as how to pick future chairs and policy goals are being worked by the three OGP subcommittees.

In addition to discussing the membership of Malta and Turkey, the Criteria and Standards Subcommittee March 10-11 considered its procedures concerning the “response policy,” a yet-unused mechanism for complaints that OGP members are “taking actions that undermine the values and principles of OGP.”

Subcommittee Suggest Priorities

The minutes of the January meeting of the Governance and Leadership Subcommittee conclude with three priority recommendations for the Steering Committee:

1 – Increasing OGP Outreach and Building High-level Political Support

  • Significantly increase external outreach (both diplomatic outreach and peer exchange) by individual SC members, particularly to support other OGP countries in designing and implementing ambitious commitments
  • Ensure that Steering Committee members are helping to put OGP on the agenda of other high-profile international events and debates in 2015
  • Organize a dynamic and inspiring 2015 Global Summit that helps raise OGP’s visibility, build high-level political support, and bring new actors into OGP

2 – Securing ‘Second Generation’ OGP Leadership

  • Consolidate the current Steering Committee to ensure solid, active leadership
  • Identify and recruit several new committed open government champions from OGP participating countries to run for the Steering Committee in 2015
  • Bring on board several high-profile ‘OGP Ambassadors’ to help advise and promote OGP globally

3 – Consolidating the OGP Secretariat

  • Work closely with the Support Unit to secure the necessary funds (US $25 million/4 years) to implement OGP’s 4-year strategy (by July 2015)
  • Identify and implement mechanisms for the Steering Committee and Support Unit to share information and work together more effectively to advance the goals outlined in our 4-year strategy

At the subcommittee meeting, the Support Unit reported that approximately $15 million of the $25 million 4-year budget has been committed. “This leaves a funding gap of approximately $US 10M for 2016-2018,” according to the minutes.

The minutes continued:

GL discussed ways to fill this gap, including securing several significant, multi-year grants – to match those of our foundation donors – from the bilateral aid agencies of supportive OGP countries. GL members also committed to help the Support Unit secure the requested annual financial contributions from all participating countries, noting that a strong response rate could play a key role in closing our funding gap. On that note, the Support Unit updated GL on the package of materials recently sent to all participating countries to substantiate their internal request for an annual financial contribution to OGP. The next step is to invoice all countries for the requested amount.

The 65 OGP members have been asked to contribute on a sliding scale. The specific contributions scale is in the minutes of the May 2014 Steering Committee meeting where this policy was adopted (downloadable at this page).  If a country has not contributed either in 2015 or 2016 they might lose the rights to vote in an election or stand for the Steering Committee.

The latest annual report, issued March 3, indicated that 10 countries contributed in 2014, including all nine members of the Steering Committee, pursuant to an OGP requirement. The report showed a contribution from just one country so far in 2015.

Draft Articles Posted

The Steering Committee has circulated for comment revised Articles of Governance that incorporate a variety of the policy changes made over the past year.

The OGP March 11 opened a 30-day public comment period on the proposed revisions, not announced on its blog.  The comment period will close on Friday April 10 at 11 pm PST. The version for public comment, which displayed the changes, can be downloaded.

Comments can be either submitted through an online form or emailed to the Support Unit at info@opengovpartnership.org.  Responses will be documented here.

There are multiple changes on a variety of topics. These include:

  • Modified processes for electing members of the Steering Committee.
  • The addition on the “OGP Response Policy.”
  • Changes relating to the decision to hold biannual conferences.
  • Requirements for donations by member countries.
  • Changes to the membership requirement regarding disclosures of income and assets by elected officials.
  • The addition of a “charter” to guide the Independent Reporting Mechanism.
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