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August 25, 2014

IRM researchers trained and ready

The OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) has just finished training the IRM national researchers for 59 of the 64 OGP participating countries. These researchers are now beginning the processes of evaluation in each of their countries. As part of this training, IRM researchers practiced applying the IRM procedures, familiarised themselves with the IRM tools, and shared their expertise between one another to strengthen the IRM’s reports overall.

The IRM’s structure and mandate has created a network of open government professionals with a wide variety of specific expertise. The IRM has mapped this expertise network, so that researchers and the OGP community can best know the skills and fortes the IRM brings to bear in its reporting.

Read full post on the OGP blog.

News from the Civil Society Engagement Team
Next week the OGP Civil Society team will bring together 15 civil society leaders from current and future OGP chair countries – as well as from leading CSOs in new Steering Committee countries. The participants will take part in a peer exchange workshop that will help them prepare for their leadership role in OGP.
During the three days of the meeting, a number of in-depth conversations on the state of play on open government in these countries will be held, and the participants will reflect on the (OGP) approaches used so far. In particular, a focus will be on how civil society in current and future co-chair countries can maximize their country’s leadership role to support reform and deepen OGP and on what the best strategy is to push the boundaries of civil society engagement in OGP. This event builds on a successful first edition that was held in London in July 2013 with civil society participants from the past, present and future OGP chair countries back then (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, UK and US). They shared experiences and strategized for this year. Most importantly, they got to know each other and are now able to easily find and support each other when needed. A Storify report on that meeting can still be found here.

Read full post on the OGP Civil Society Hub.
Faces of Open Government
Zoe Reiter is Regional Programme Manager at the Americas Department at the Headquarters of Transparency International.

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.


Latest news on OGP

Americas Regional Meeting call for proposals and pre-registration 

On November 18-19 the OGP Americas Regional Meeting will be held in San José, Costa Rica, preceded by a Civil Society Day on November 17. The call for proposals and pre-registration for both the Regional Meeting and the Civil Society Day is now open. Read more here.

OGP publishes letters to 11 countries
A group of countries were recently sent letters informing them of improvements they needed to make in their OGP process, following the Independent Reporting Mechanisms findings into their first National Action Plan cycle. The Support Unit sent letters to these countries on April 30, 2014. Read the blog post with explanations and implications here.

Five ways the Global Legislative Openness survey can strengthen Action Plans

The OGP Legislative Openness Working Group (LOWG) set up a survey-based research effort to gather and disseminate comparative information about parliamentary openness. One goal of the survey is to support the OGP process by increasing the number of meaningful legislative openness commitments in national action plans. Read how the LOWG's research efforts could positively affect the OGP process in this blog post.

The buzz on Open Government

Discussion on the sustainability of OGP

Actors involved in open government frequently publish blog posts and other interesting thoughts on OGP. Last week, a lively discussion took place on Kenya's Al Kags' blog on the sustainability of OGP. Read it here.

The GovLab Academy is offering a 14 week online Masters-level course on "Solving Public Problems with Technology". Enroll for this hands-on learning and mentoring program designed to help you shape and implement an innovative project using civic technology. Apply before August, 27. Details here.
For Your Calendar

August 31, 2014: Deadline for pre-registration and call for proposals for the OGP Americas Regional Meeting in Costa Rica.

September 24, 2014: OGP High-Level Event: Citizen Action, Responsive Government. UN Headquarters, New York City. At this event the Open Government Awards ceremony will also be held.

September 25, 2014: OGP Steering Committee Meeting, New York City.

November 17-19, 2014: OGP Regional Meeting Americas. San José, Costa Rica
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