OGP Group Announces Grants for ATI Research

6 May 2015

Working with a shoestring budget, the leaders of the Access Working Group of the Open Government Partnership May 6 announced a “micro-grants” program for research into the relationship of access to information with other open government efforts.

Information on the terms of reference for the grants and the applications process will be announced soon on the working group’s website, which also contains the new 2015 work plan.

The ATI Working Group has a budget of $25,000 for 2015, of which $7,500 has been allocated for the micro-grants.

The small budget was provided by the OGP Support Unit after an application for funding to a donor was unsuccessful. The Working Group also plans to spend $15,000 on travel and meetings and $2,500 on “research.”

The micro-grant announcement came during a webinar, attended by more than 80 persons, presented by the two leaders of the working group: Laura Neuman, Director of Global Access to Information Program at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Ga., US, and María José Montiel, Director of Open Government Department at the Federal Institute for Access to Public Information and Data Protection, Mexico (IFAI).

Two Types of Micro-Grants Invited

The Working Group is looking to support research and activities oriented around the relationship of access to information with other typical OGP commitments, such as improving e-government service delivery or providing open data. The ATI community has been concerned that many OGP member countries have not made commitments relating to ATI, or made weak ones, and the Working Group hopes to show the importance of ATI in reaching other goals.

One sort of proposal that could receive support would involve research demonstrating the relationship of ATI to other OGP commitments. For such research the grants will be up to $1,500.

Another category is for “projects” – perhaps the filing of ATI requests or training – again aimed at amplifying the relationship of ATI and other commitments. For these up to $3,000 will be available.

There are five OGP working groups, but only the open data and fiscal transparency working groups have been able to raise money.

The deadline for applications will be early June. The project completion date will be in September with the goal of having the results presented at the OGP Summit meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico, Oct. 27-29.

Only persons or groups from the 65 OGP member countries will be eligible. There is no set number of grants in each category.

Action Plan Reviewed

Neuman and Montiel also reviewed a previously issued 30-point action plan for 2015 that was developed in part based on feedback from members but only 19 of the current 180 members responded to an online survey.

The organizers said they would like to hear from members interested in helping devise a governance structure for the Working Group. They also would like to recruit new members, noting for example that representation from Africa and from governments is disproportionately low.

The action plan has six major objectives with numerous more specific activities described:

The main goals are:

– Review new draft commitments related to access to information and support in formulating action plans

– Participate in National, Regional and International OGP Events to promote and inclusive dialogue and encourage emphasis on the role of access to information for openness, transparency and participation

– Encourage and Support Peer Exchanges

– Engage countries considering OGP membership

– Link Access to Information to other core OGP principles

Among the specific planned activities is a meeting on ATI in West Africa.

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