OGP Upgrades Standard for Star-Rated Commitments

7 May 2015

The Open Government Partnership is making is slightly harder for member countries to earn a “star” rating for its commitments.

“In order to further incentivize a race-to-the-top in OGP and to ensure that starred commitments are in fact model commitments, starting in 2015 the IRM will raise the standards for what can qualify for a star,” according to an OGP blog post.

Specifically, only those commitments considered to be potentially transformative in the relevant policy area will be eligible for starred status,” the announcement states, noting that the existing three qualification requirements will still be in place.

Using the existing criteria above, almost 24% of the commitments received stars.

The stars are awarded, based on the criteria, using the information provided by the independent reviewers for each country by the OGP Independent Review Mechanism.

The existing criteria are:

  1. It must be specific enough that a judgment can be made about its potential impact. Starred commitments will have “medium” or “high” specificity.
  2. The commitment language should make clear its relevance to opening government. Specifically, it must relate to at least one of the OGP values of: Access to Information, Civic Participation, or Public Accountability.
  3. The commitment must have “moderate” or “transformative” potential impact, should it be fully implemented.
  4. Finally, the commitment must see significant progress during the action plan implementation period (receiving a ranking of “substantial” or “complete” progress).

Professor Jonathan Fox, one of the members of the International Experts Panel that guides the IRM method and ensures the quality of IRM reports, offered the following explanation for this change:

Our goal in creating the idea of starred commitments was to draw attention to those government efforts that have made tangible progress toward clearly ambitious goals. Now, after two years of reviewing dozens of reports and coding of hundreds of commitments, we have come to the conclusion that ‘potentially moderate impacts’ are not sufficiently ambitious. In the coding process, we found that many of the starred commitments were close to borderline cases with low impact. We don’t want to water down the idea of starred commitments.

Had they been considered under the new criterion, about 10% of the commitments analyzed in 2014 would have received stars.

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