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November 12, 2014

Celebrating OGP champions in the Americas

In one week, the Americas Open Government Community will gather in San Jose, Costa Rica, to talk, learn, debate and work together during OGP’s Americas Regional Meeting. We will start out on November 17 with a civil society unconference, followed by a two-day event with over 40 breakout sessions, workshops, panels, book presentations, plenaries, and a data expedition. 
#OGPSanJosé is OGP's third regional event in the Americas and is organized by the government and civil society of Costa Rica; the government of Mexico; Hivos Costa Rica; and the OGP Support Unit. OGP currently includes 17 participant countries from the Americas region that are each committed to making open government reforms in close coordination with civil society. The meeting comes at an important moment as 70% of the region’s countries have presented new national action plans in the past 12 months. The remaining are due to do so in the following year. There will be an opportunity to join country-focused sessions on each of the 17 participants, where the emphasis will be on learning from each other to help generate a ‘race to the top’ in the region.  
Our overall goal is to recognize and celebrate open government reformers from the public sector and civil society, including the implementers who are making OGP commitments happen on the ground. We hope both events will provide open government champions from the region with space to highlight good practices and successful initiatives, discuss the challenges faced, and establish support and peer exchange regional mechanisms. 

Early on in the organization process, the planning committee (composed of government and civil society representatives, and for the first time, citizens unaffiliated to organized civil society) decided that in true OGP fashion, the event’s agenda would be completely crowsourced. The end result is a Regional Meeting co-constructed with our community that addresses their main concerns and requests.
Civil society representatives will have a whole day to reflect on advocacy opportunities during the Civil Society Day’s unconference. We are working with Social-TIC, Hivos Costa Rica and Costa Rican civil society to ensure an event as successful and inclusive as last month’s AbreLatam. Government OGP points of contact often express an interest in having a similar gathering aimed specifically at public servants; so during November 17 we will also host our first ever OGP Point of Contact camp. 

Read full article here.
Anticipating the Americas meeting we feature a post on research capturing preliminary findings of OGP participation in Latin America. It provides an initial synopsis of some of the general trends that emerge after analysing some of the Latin American IRM reports.
OGP in Latin America: Opportunities for Advancement in Open Government

By Jesse Franzblau

Latin America boasts the highest proportion of OGP participating countries, with 17 member countries committed to promoting official transparency. And they have been successful: The first round of National Action Plans (NAP) submitted by 14 of the countries led to a combined 328 open government initiatives or activities.
With most of the regional members developing or implementing their second NAP, now is an important time to reflect on lessons learned from recent experiences and explore new ways to empower civic engagement through the OGP process.
This assessment is part of a larger effort to develop global comparative research on the smartness and ambition of OGP commitments, and to identify opportunities for civil society to promote more aspirational open government agendas.
Newly available data collections allow for a comparative examination of the commonalities and differences between OGP member countries. Such analysis helps identify model commitments and develop recommendations to improve action plans.

The available data include information pulled from the 48 assessment reports produced by the OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) on the development and implementation of the 14 national action plans from Latin America. The IRM reports provide technical recommendations for improvements and are an important source of information to monitor the progress that has been made in fulfilling open government commitments. (See full article for more on the public databases).

Continue reading this blog post
Faces of Open Government
Nicolás Dassen is Modernization of the State Senior Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

How does open government make a difference in people's lives?

The difference is made by improving the quality of public services, making governments more effective, efficient and open. As a vision, we have to build a model of open society where relationships between all actors will contribute toward the development of a democratic space, based on trust, openness, integrity, and collaboration.

Describe one OGP commitment that the IDB is proud to support in Latin America?

First, we are very proud of having supported Trinidad & Tobago to draft the first OGP Action Plan. Second, the Bank is working with Uruguay to implement innovative solutions for the improvement of public services with citizens´ participation. The project is divided in three phases: 1) Call for proposals through the group Facebook Dateidea2014 where citizens submitted 79 proposals containing a problem or challenge to be fixed with technology and better information; 2) Hackathon with 20 groups designing solutions to the proposals received and 3) Sustainability: through a competitive process, during 2015 public agencies and civil society groups will compete for funds to develop the necessary technology to implement the best solutions designed at the prior phases.

How are you working to overcome challenges in opening up government?

The IDB strategy follows a three-tier approach that combines technical advisory, financial resources, and knowledge sharing among LAC countries for: (1) designing and monitoring OG policies and action plans; (2) strengthening countries´ capacities to effectively implement OG solutions in the areas of public services, integrity and civil society participation; and (3) promoting south-south and extra regional cooperation and policy dialogue.

What can we expect from the upcoming OGP Regional Meeting in Costa Rica?

I would expect a strong pledge from governments to implement more significant commitments to improve people’s daily life during this upcoming second cycle of Action Plans. I also expect to ...  Continue reading here

Latest news on OGP    

OGP wins 'Commitment to Development' Award

OGP is honored to receive the Commitment to Development 'Ideas in Action' Award from the Center for Global Development (CGD). Read OGP Executive Director Linda Frey's remarks, and watch a recorded version of the ceremony here.

Call for Research Proposals

The OGP Civil Society Engagement team published a call for research proposals to analyse and describe the different forms of interaction that have taken place between governments and civil society in OGP participating countries. Details are available on the OGP Civil Society Hub. Deadline is November 23, 2014.

New OGP Action Plans

Over the last two weeks, Canada and 
Czech Republic 
submitted their second National Action Plans, while 
New Zealand and 
Serbia submitted their first.
OGP statement on IRM Researcher in Montenegro

The OGP Steering Committee is deeply concerned about recent personal attacks on the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) Researcher in Montenegro. Read the full statement here.

The buzz on Open Government

Three things to watch for in OGP

Jed Miller from Transparency and Accountability Initiative (T/AI) writes a blog on 'Three things to watch for in OGP': 1) Can OGP walk its talk; 2) Can data make a difference; and 3) Are we learning anything? Read more here.
Should corruption be a more central concept to OGP?

Although recognized in general as an elementary part of advancing more open government, "the word 'corruption' has been relegated to a small corner of the word cloud in the assessments and cataloguing of the national action plans" says Transparency International's Zoe Reiter in this blog post
'Players or Spectators: Observations on CSO Participation in the OGP'

US civil society coalition Open The Government, in 
partnership with Kenyan CSO representative Al Kags present an insightful
analysis on the role of civil society in OGP. Read the full report that features three key recommendations for improving CSO participation here.
Boost for climate finance transparency in Asia

The Philippines, as one of the countries most 
vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change, introduced a landmark climate finance tagging system as a way to promote greater transparency and accountability of public spending on climate-related activities. See the details on Devex's website.
A new chapter was added to the Open Government Guide - on Privacy and Data Protection, providing for a framework for integrating privacy considerations into open government plans and programmes.

The Gov Lab Digest provides a curated selection of major developments, findings, and views related to how we improve people's lives by changing how we govern, on a weekly basis.
For Your Calendar
November 17, 2014: OGP Civil Society Day prior to Americas Meeting. San José, Costa Rica.

November 18-19, 2014: OGP Regional Meeting Americas. San José, Costa Rica.

November 27-28, 2014: Workshop Introducing OGP, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
November 12, 2014, 10-11 AM EST  
(Webinar in Spanish): Uso de plataformas electrónicas de tramitación de  solicitudes de información en América Latina. More information and registration here.
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