OGP Newsletter
May 2016
In this issue: With #OGPAfrica2016 in Cape Town May 5-6 we turn our attention to Africa, with pieces on partnership, OGP in francophone Africa, the African ambition-implementation gap, legislative openness, a featured commitment from Sierra Leone, an interview with Rakesh Rajani, and a quote from Marcella Samba-Sesay.

The Partnership Question 

By Mukelani Dimba, Executive Director, ODAC & Maureen Kariuki, Regional Civil Society Coordinator for Africa & the Middle East, OGP Support Unit 

Close to a thousand delegates from the African continent and beyond are descending on Cape Town for the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Africa Regional Summit from 4 - 6 May 2016. At this grand market of ideas, African countries will take stock of how they have fared in promoting transparency and accountability in the conduct of public affairs and management of scarce public resources. Delegates will consider such tools as open budgeting, open contracting, open data and access to information, and the  common theme throughout will be how these tools of accountability are used to ensure inclusive and sustainable development. Read the full blog here

Expanding the Reach of OGP in Francophone Africa 

By Carey Kluttz, Fulbright-Clinton Fellow, SODEMI & Kouadio Julien Tingain, President of Social Justice & Coordinator of EITI National Council

In October 2015, during the Global Summit of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Mexico, Côte d’Ivoire officially became the international initiative’s first sub-Saharan Francophone member. This is an important step for this booming country, which is emerging from memories of a post-electoral crisis that still remain fresh.

President Alassane Ouattara, who aims to make Côte d’Ivoire an emerging country by 2020, has implemented a number of initiatives in the domain of transparency and good governance, including through OGP membership. OGP is an international multi-stakeholder initiative launched in 2011 which aims to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance – in a spirit of collaboration between government, non-state actors, civil society organizations, and the media. Read the full blog here.

For the May Quote of the Month, click on the video above to hear Marcella Samba-Sesay discuss her experiences with government and civil society collaboration in Sierra Leone. 

“...government and civil society can work together – and in a much more proactive manner. Now we do not shout from outside or scream through the windows; we actually sit and dialogue on the table. We are part and parcel of the decision making process that takes place and more importantly, there is this synergetic relationship that has been built…”  

OGP Africa: Commitments to Watch 

By Joseph Foti, Program Manager, Independent Reporting Mechanism

Big things are happening in African OGP countries.

Yet, a recent report on OGP’s “starred commitments”--the most ambitious reforms in OGP-- did not feature any African commitments, showing the difficulty of implementation across the continent.

But the pattern of weak implementation doesn’t have to stay that way.

Here we highlight a few of the reforms that, according to our Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) reports, show some progress, but need the extra push to get them across the finish line. Once completed, these reforms could mean big things for each of the OGP countries. In OGP-speak, most of these commitments were judged by the IRM to be “potentially transformative” in their respective policy area, but none of them had reached completion. Read the full blog here. 

Faces of Open Government

Rakesh Rajani, Director of Civic Engagement & Government, Ford Foundation 

You were very involved in bringing OGP to life. Are you surprised at how it’s developed?

It’s all happened quickly. For several years a motley crew of us worked on the idea of open government, open budgets, open data – but it was often a marginal conversation. Then in 2010 the tide turned, there was international momentum, and we jumped on the opportunity to help promote the idea that became the Open Government Partnership. We hoped that this idea would interest ten or fifteen countries... never had we imagined that in less than five years it would include 69 countries and over 2,500 specific commitments to open up government. Sure, there are many substantive problems in many of these countries and commitments, but it still is a remarkable achievement. Click here to read the full interview. 

Bridging the Ambition–Implementation Gap in OGP Africa 

By Lesly Baesens, Program Associate, IRM & Joseph Foti, Program Manager, IRM 

Electoral boundaries in Kenya. Unifying all national bank accounts in Sierra Leone. Mapping conservation areas in South Africa. Land ownership data in Liberia.

For those who follow events in each of these countries, these are all big ideas with potentially big results. And they were all in the most recent OGP action plans of these African countries. When it comes to big ambitions and socially relevant commitments, the OGP participating countries in Africa lead the global pack.

Indeed this is supported by the data. The OGP Steering Committee gave OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (where we work) the task of assessing the “potential impact” of commitments. When we compare African countries to countries in other regions, we see a big difference.

But we see another difference. Read the full blog here.

Featured OGP Commitment 

Country: Sierra Leone
Commitment: Records Management & Archives 
National Action Plan: 2014-2016

Sierra Leone’s current archives law dates to its early independence and many of the national archives were destroyed during its decade-long civil war.

Without records, however, many administrative reforms, including the RTI law (and most other OGP commitments) and critical civil service reform, may be impossible to implement.

As part of their OGP action plan, Sierra Leone is updating the law. As of April 2016, the law had passed through the drafting phase and was about to tabled in Cabinet to be sent on to the Parliament.

According to IRM researcher Charlie Hughes, in order to complete the reform and ensure maximum impact, the final legislation will need to transfer jurisdiction over records management to the Ministry of Information and Communications which can better compel other agencies to meet basic requirements.

Legislative Openness is One of OGP's Greatest Success Stories 

By Dan Swislow, Senior Partnerships Officer, National Democratic Institute 

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) has always been positioned primarily as a platform. There are few detailed prescriptions of what member countries must do aside from meeting initial eligibility requirements and creating a process that puts the government and civil society at the table in order to build home-grown agendas for government transparency and citizen engagement. The beauty of promoting this relatively open-ended process, rather than a more prescriptive approach, is that successes can be organic and extend far beyond what was initially intended. Read the full blog here. 

Latest OGP News and Employment Opportunities

OGP Africa Regional Meeting 
The government of South Africa will host the 2016 Open Government Partnership Africa Regional Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa May 5 - 6, 2016 and preceded by a Civil Society Day, which will take place on May 4, 2016. All event details can be found here
OGP Americas Regional Meeting
The OGP Regional Meeting of the Americas will be held in the city of Montevideo, Uruguay May 31- June 2, 2016. Around 500 participants from government, civil society, media and companies are expected to attend. Registration information can be found

Anti-Corruption Summit & Related Events
The UK government is hosting an international Anti-Corruption Summit on May 12 in London, convening heads of state, ministers, business leaders, and civil society. Transparency International is also organizing the “Tackling Corruption Together” Conference (May 11, London). The event will promote exchange of policy ideas which could lead to announcements at the Summit.  OGP Steering Committee members, Working Group anchors, Support Unit staff will be attending.

OGP Global Summit 2016
The OGP Global Summit 2016 will take place in Paris, France on December 7, 8 and 9. The agenda for the Global Summit will be based on an open call for proposals from the entire open government community. The final agenda will be announced in September. All event and proposal submission information can be found here.  

Call for IRM National Researchers in Norway, Papua New Guinea, Cabo Verde, The Philippines, and Romania
The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is seeking individuals to carry out research at the national level in three countries to assess government progress on implementation of their OGP Action Plans. See here for application details.

Research Associate
The OGP Support Unit is looking for 
an individual with strong research and analytical skills in the governance field, to serve as a Research Associate. The Research Associate will support the incoming CEO and the Management Team, and provide general research support across other programs. The Research Associate will need to be comfortable producing different types of material depending on the audience, f
or example producing a detailed briefing on an OGP country to inform a country visit by a senior staff member, compiling facts for an article, blog or speech, or writing a short paper based on recent trends in OGP countries. More information can be found here.
The Buzz on Open Government     

Press Release: Azerbaijan made inactive in OGP. More information can be found here.

Press Release: Government of Georgia and Mukelani Dimba Elected as Next Support Co-Chairs on the OGP Steering Committee. More information can be found here.

Looking for transformative, ambitious ideas for your next National Action Plan? Check out this, this or this blog post from our Great Ideas for OGP Action Plans blog series! 

Spanish Newsletter: This newsletter is now available in Spanish! Click here to subscribe. 

OGP Gazette: The monthly OGP Gazette provides essential updates from the OGP Support Unit and IRM on official decisions, deadlines, communications, reporting and job openings. Click here to subscribe.
May 5-6: OGP Africa Regional Meeting 2016. All event details can be found here. 
May 12: Anti Corruption Summit in London. Event details can be found here
May 31- June 2: OGP Americas Regional Meeting 2016. All event details, including registration, can be found here
December 7-9: OGP Global Summit in Paris, France. Event information can be found here

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