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February 4, 2015

A New OGP Calendar:
What Countries Need to do and When

by Alonso Cerdan and Aichida Ul-Aflaha

Last week the Support Unit released the Open Government Partnership activity calendars for all participating countries. The calendars clearly present dates and deadlines for key activities in the OGP process, such as National Action Plan (NAP) drafting, implementation, and assessment. This information enables governments to plan ahead and avoid delays. It is also a crucial resource for national and international civil society as it makes it clear when different countries are developing NAPs, and therefore what the best moments are to advocate for ambitious open government reform commitments.  Finally OGP Working Groups, multilaterals, and other national stakeholders will find these useful as it equips partners with information to provide support and collaboration at the appropriate stage of the OGP process.
Until 2014, each country calendar was based on the year they joined OGP. Cohort 1 included the 8 founding countries, Cohort 2 was comprised of the 38 countries that formally joined at the Brasilia Global Summit in 2012, Cohort 3 was a smaller group of 8 countries that joined in April 2013 and Cohort 4 included all the countries that joined afterwards. The cohort system gave us the necessary flexibility to grow from 8 to 65 participating countries. However, it was confusing for stakeholders because the dates varied considerably between cohorts.
Starting 2015, all OGP countries will now fall into two groups – “Even” and “Odd” Year – based on when countries submit their action plan. Even Year countries submit their two-year NAPs in an even year. Odd Year countries submit their NAPs in an odd year...continue reading here.

Five Stars? Developing a National Action Plan Review Tool

Last week, civil society advocates gathered in The Hague to review and conclude the pilot phase of the Civil Society National Action Plan Review tool. The idea of the project is primarily to equip national OGP actors with an advocacy tool that can help them push for a stronger partnership and more ambitious plans by assessing the OGP process through a civil society lens. The combined results can also help OGP improving the overall OGP mechanism. Tim Hughes from the UK-based CSO Involve summarized main findings of the event below.

The central mechanism of the Open Government Partnership is, of course, the National Action Plan. It presents the advocacy opportunity for reformers inside and outside governments to secure reforms. And it is against the Action Plan that a government can be held accountable for the implementation of its commitments.

If we’re to increase the impact of the OGP, the obvious place to start is with the quality of those plans. More specifically, creating incentives to develop Action Plans in an open and inclusive way, and disincentives to make vague, irrelevant and/or unambitious commitments...continue reading here.

Faces of Open Government

Stefano Pizzicannella is the Director for International Relations at the Department for Public Administration, Government of Italy. 
‪How does open government make a difference in peoples lives?

Open government sets a framework for a new relationship between government and citizens and it can definitely change the way citizens and institutions perceive themselves diminishing barriers and enhancing reciprocal communication and trust. People’s lives are affected also because open government allows for improved and tailored service delivery. Both the how and the what Public Administration does is deeply affected in a positive way. All actors involved in open government processes, politicians, administrators, stakeholders, businesses and citizens get to work and act in an improved environment based on communication, cooperation and co-creation of services.

How have you benefited from exchanging ideas with civil society?

Civil society is a universe where motivation, skills, know how are present in such a variety and quality that as an administrator I benefited enormously in terms of vision and knowledge enrichment. The exchange with stakeholders and citizens creates an unprecedented momentum for change and innovation and helps government itself to maintain focus in policy implementation and thus in achieving results. Bringing down barriers, the process of opening up government allows for improved, sound and more reliable decision making processes where traditional resistors to innovation have to give way to change.

Describe one OGP commitment from your country that you are proud of.

The second Italian Action Plan, presented in December 2014, contains two commitments dedicated to the improvement of the government’s capacity to meet both participation needs of public administrations and demands for inclusion in decision making processes coming from civil society. These commitments are dedicated to the drafting of general guidelines for public administrations for participation and to the enhancement of the technical endowment and of competencies within government to better support these demands...continue reading here.

Latest news on OGP    

Public commenting period for IRM reports now open

The draft IRM reports for 5 countries - Costa Rica, Ghana, Finland, Liberia and Panama - that submitted action plans to OGP in 2013 are now open to the public for comment. In addition a special accountability report from Indonesia has been published. The IRM calls on any interested organization or individual to comment on these reports to see if they are accurate and capture a wide variety of views.

Workplan of OGP Legislative Openness Working Group

OGP's Legislative Openness Working Group has outlined five topic areas to address in 2015, and has selected a diverse set of participants to assist in developing the activities of each workstream. Read more in its detailed workplan here

The buzz on Open Government

UK Civil Society Calls on Political Parties to Commit to Open Government

In just over four months time the UK public will elect a new parliament and government. Ahead of the election, the UK Open Government civil society network has sent this letter to all political parties calling on them to commit to open government and the Open Government Partnership. 
3rd International Open Data Conference

From May 28-29, 2015 hundreds of open data experts, senior government officials, industry leaders, and civil society champions from around the world will gather in Ottawa, Canada to take stock of the evolution of the global open data movement and work toward charting a course for its future. 
Evidence Base on the Social Impact of Open Data

The Sunlight Foundation is looking for examples on the social impact of open data and digital transparency projects from around the world. Click here to submit your case story on the open data project you're working on and how you think your initiative is making a change to our societies, beyond economic impact.

The GovLab Digest is a curated selection of major developments, findings, and views related to how we improve people's lives by changing how we govern, delivered weekly.
Upcoming Webinars
February 11, 2015
Por Mi Barrio: Detras de Escenas de un Proyecto Colaborativo entre Sociedad Civil y el Gobierno de Montevideo

February 17, 2015
Developing Stronger OGP Action Plans

February 25, 2015
Procesos de designacion de maximas autoridades de organos de control en America Latina

Watch this space for registration links! In the meantime find past webinars here.
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