OGP Working Group on ATI Issues 2016 Activities Plan

29 March 2016

The Open Government Partnership’s Access to Information Working Group has issued a 2016 Work Plan emphasizing assistance to OGP member governments.

At a March 30 webinar on the plan, the civil society co-chair of the working group appealed for more ideas and more participation. Only five persons responded to call to serve on a working group steering committee, reported Laura Neuman, Director of Global Access to Information Program, The Carter Center, Atlanta, Ga., saying others could still volunteer.

“Please get involved,” she said during the webinar attended by about 50 persons. The three-year-old OGP ATI Working Group has about 180 members. Activities are constrained by the annual $25,000 allotment provided by the OGP to the working group, one of five such OGP thematic groups. A few of them, particularly the open data working group, have raised funds separately.

The new work plan, Neuman explained, responds to OGP priorities, such as encouraging peer-to-peer exchanges. In that vein, the new plan continues an existing project involving four countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guatemala and Honduras). (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

Suggestions for activities that garnered interest during the 90-minute discussion were to toughen the OGP’s membership eligibility requirements with regard to access to information and to focus on implementation of access laws. (Link to recorded session.)

The existing OGP eligibility standards on access have been criticized before. They basically provide full marks for having a constitutional right to information and a draft law.

The goal of measuring implementation, while generally supported, was not discussed in detail and was recognized as a difficult task. Such an indicator is called for in the new UN Sustainable Development Goals, although the details have yet to be worked out. (See recent FreedomInfo.org coverage here and here.)

The work plan outlines four main priorities:

  • Review new draft commitments related to access to information and support multiple stakeholders in formulating action plans
  • Participate in National, Regional and International OGP Events to promote an inclusive dialogue and encourage emphasis on the role of access to information as a cornerstone of an open and transparent government that promotes public participation
  • Encourage and Support Peer Learning Networks
  • Develop and Disseminate Research/Analysis/Relevant Information and Build Consensus on Transversal Issues Impacting the Right of Access to Information

Additional detail is provided for each point.

The ATI Working Group also issued a report on its activities during the past year.

The OGP ATI eligibility standard says:

Access to Information

An access to information law that guarantees the public’s right to information and access to government data is essential to the spirit and practice of open government.

Measurement:  4 points awarded to countries with access to information laws in place, 3 points if a country has a constitutional provision guaranteeing access to information, and 1 point if a country has a draft access to information law under consideration. Countries with both a constitutional provision and a draft law under consideration will only be awarded the 3 points for the constitutional provision.

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