How does open government make a difference in people’s lives?
Open government doesn’t make a difference in people’s lives, people do. Strong mechanisms for transparency, accountability and ensuring people’s right to information are enablers but they won’t achieve much unless those people most marginalized from power have the capacity and sufficient awareness of their rights to tap in to those enablers. The question for me is how the OGP can be better at engaging people? We need to be better at linking up with Community Based Organizations, better about linking the open government agenda to the problems that most impact people’s lives, and then better about demonstrating how involvement in open government has made people’s lives better. Building those connections takes a fair amount of time, trust and resources, possibly beyond what the national action planning cycle of OGP currently provides.
How has civil society benefited from exchanging ideas with government?
I actually would like to put the question another other way, i.e. how do national action plans benefit from the exchanging of ideas between government and civil society? Often, government officials do not have a lot of experience in particular areas of open governance and, in the best case scenarios, look to civil society for support in meeting the OGP grand challenges. A TI survey of its Chapters in November 2013 indicated that those governments who conducted high-quality, regular and open consultations with civil society are much more likely to have high-quality, achievable commitments and indicators in their national action plans.
At the regional summits of the OGP, there is an invaluable opportunity for the government folks really responsible for implementing the OGP (as opposed to the political leadership that is more removed from the operational aspects) to meet and dialogue in a spirit of parity with civil society actors from diverse sectors. I hope that the upcoming Summit in Costa Rica will take advantage of this opportunity and focus on providing spaces for genuine exchange between the actual OGP “doers” in the region from government and civil society along both thematic and geographic lines.
Read full post on the OGP blog.