OGP Leaders to Review Progress, Discuss Next Moves

22 October 2015

Discussion of progress to date and several new initiatives is on agenda for two meetings of the Open Government Partnership Steering Committee to be held Oct. 26-27 in Mexico City in advance of the third OGP summit Oct. 28-29.

One proposal expected to advance will be a pilot project to involve subnational governments.

Top ministers from the 11 governments on the 22-member Steering Committee will attend on Oct. 27, at which three broad topics are scheduled for discussion. The other half of the Steering Committee is composed of civil society representatives. The agendas for the closed meetings were placed on the OGP website Oct. 21 (see bottom of page).

The objective of this meeting is seek guidance from the Steering Committee on the key strategic issues facing OGP, including: how to maintain leadership, relevance and robustness of the Partnership, advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals and subnational work, support governments and civil society in participating countries,” according to the agenda.

An “infographic” on the state of the 66-member partnership is to be circulated at the meeting, with the discussion to focus on “the successes and challenges of OGP to date, looking at national action plans, IRM data and civil society feedback.”

The group is slated to discuss how the OGP can accelerate implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Another discussion will be about a new theme that will be stressed at the summit — expansion of the OGP effort to cover subnational governments. The Steering Committee is being asked to endorse concept note (included in the file with the agenda at page 37.) Six to 10 local governments “that are acknowledged global pioneers in open government will be invited to engage directly with OGP in an experimental pilot program with local CSOs.”

Organizational Issues at First Meeting

On the previous day, the Steering Committee (absent ministers) will address some broad themes and a few nuts and bolts issues.

A discussion will be held about the Independent Review Mechanism, the system of independent evaluations used to examine the 66 members’ national action plans.

“The Steering Committee will have the opportunity to discuss what the IRM has achieved; assess what we are learning about learning and accountability in OGP; explore country experience with the IRM, including benefits and challenges; and ask members of the International Experts Panel about their focus and perception of the opportunities and challenges for the IRM,” the agenda says.

A chart on the IRM “then and now” shows progress over two years. When the London summit was held in 2013, only eight reports had been published. Now 72 have been published, including some second round reports.). Another comment on the chart says, “Huge improvements in government review processes; uptick in civil society comments.”

The Steering Committee also is slated to discuss the OGP’s five topical working groups, whose work is summarized in the agenda package.

Incorporation, Trust Fund on Agenda

A discussion is planned on incorporating the OGP and creating a trust fund at the World Bank. The draft bylaws and the concept note on the trust fund were not disclosed, a note in the agenda saying they were “withheld as predecision.”

Also unreleased is a draft report on the implementation of the OGP response policy and country updates. The response policy is mechanism instituted to deal with complaints that member governments are acting contrary to OGP principles.

A decision is not expected on Hungary, about which complaints have been lodged by civil society groups, because the evaluation report is not complete.

In May, the OGP took a “stage 1” action concerning Azerbaijan, agreeing with CSO concerns. The process has several stages during which members are encouraged to remedy problems, with the ultimate sanction being declared an “inactive” member. (See FreedomInfo.org article.)

The Steering Committee will be updated on the search for a new executive director.

Read all FreedomInfo.org stories on the OGP here.

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