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September 16, 2014

OGP Turns Three, Celebrates Success and Looks to the Future

Next week Heads of State and civil society leaders from across the Open Government Partnership’s 64 countries will come together to celebrate three years of one of the world’s most innovative international organisations. As is always the case at OGP events the stage will be shared by political and civic leaders, signifying the cultural shift from business-as-usual government practices that participation in OGP requires. Countries have now made over 2,000 individual open government reform commitments under the OGP umbrella, so a degree of celebration is warranted, but the event is much more than a birthday party.
Building Political Support
First, high level political support is a crucial ingredient in OGP’s theory of change. It serves to motivate and empower mid-level reformers to try new ideas and take the necessary risks to truly open up government. It also raises awareness of the opportunity civil society has with OGP to advocate for specific commitments, to use the platform to engage with government, and to hold leaders accountable for their promises. The objective of bringing Heads of State and senior ministers together at the United Nations is to galvanise support in OGP countries around the world, giving reformers the clear mandate they need to turn high-minded commitments into concrete action.
Open Government Awards
The event will also host the first Open Government Awards, which are being presented to countries that have pioneered new approaches to citizen engagement in public policy and services. Thirty-four OGP countries nominated projects for the awards, which were assessed by an independent panel of judges. The winners that will be honoured on stage will serve as an inspiration to governments looking for new ideas to improve their own levels of public participation. The best new OGP commitments on citizen engagement from the most recent National Action Plans will also be celebrated at the event.

New Pledges

OGP events are important action-forcing moments. They focus attention on results and the actual implementation of the political commitments countries have made through OGP. They also provide an opportunity for members to help each other cross the threshold from commitment to action. To that end, each OGP country has been asked to make a specific pledge to assist at least one other country with a policy issue they face in common. 

Read full post on the OGP blog

News from the Civil Society Engagement Team
The coming week will be a big week. OGP will host a range of events and meetings during the 69th United Nations General Assembly.

On the 25th there will be an OGP Steering Committee meeting. You can find the agenda and meeting documents here. Especially interesting from a civil society perspective are the hopefully final discussion on the Proposed Policy on Upholding the Values and Principles of OGP (OGP response policy), and the document describing requirements for OGP events. The latter emphasizes the important role of civil society in making these events successful. Particularly the open invitation for participation, the membership in the planning committee and the open call for proposals are best practices from the events organized so far. Other items on the agenda for the Steering Committee meeting include updates on peer exchange and on the asset disclosure eligibility change. Of the other documents the draft IRM charter is worth reading. 

On the morning of the 24th OGP together with the Ford Foundation will organize a breakfast dialogue with Global Civil Society Leaders (#OGPcivilsociety). The breakfast is an opportunity to speak candidly and review the early successes and challenges of the OGP and consider how we can use the OGP platform to advance progressive agendas. Part of the new OGP four year strategy is to strengthen the links with leading global civil society coalitions and networks and to join forces to get meaningful things done.

The OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) will launch the first IRM Technical Paper the same day. They will give a brief but informative overview of what OGP countries have accomplished as part of their action plans and where we still need to go. If you are in New York and want to join this event, sign up here. At the bottom of that page you’ll also find how to follow this event through livestream.

Read full post on the OGP Civil Society Hub.
Faces of Open Government
This week we feature Linda Frey, Executive Director of the Open Government Partnership. She talks to us about OGP's vision and four-year strategy which is launching today.

What does the publication of this strategy signify about OGP’s evolution?

When OGP was launched 3 years ago, no one knew exactly where it was headed or how fast it would grow. But its founders had a compelling vision, which in hindsight seems to have been the right approach at just the right time. Who would have thought more than 60 countries would voluntarily sign up to take concrete steps to open up their governments to public oversight, and then subject themselves to independent reporting on their progress? 

OGP morphed very quickly from a big idea to an incredibly exciting – but admittedly daunting - implementation challenge.  At 60 plus countries and growing, could we deliver on the original vision:  the idea that by joining this initiative, countries would be encouraged and inspired to make real progress on critical open government reforms?

By early 2014, it was clear that we needed a road map to take OGP from scrappy start-up to a consolidated, high-impact organization. Hence the decision to develop an ambitious, but pragmatic, 4-year strategy for OGP. 

The publication of this strategy signifies two important things.  First, OGP is here to stay.  There is enough evidence that the model is working that we need to double down and make the necessary investments to deliver on its full potential.  Second, it isn’t going to be easy.  But we have now put a thoughtful plan in place that will increase the likelihood of success. 

What does the strategy cover?
It’s not always easy to explain what OGP is or how it works.  We hope this document will serve as a comprehensive and accessible resource for those who want to know more about OGP.    With that in mind, I would urge everyone to read the “OGP in Context” and “Theory of Change” sections to better understand what OGP is, and what it isn’t.
Read full post on the OGP blog

Latest news on OGP

OGP publishes four-year strategy

OGP has launched its four-year strategy for 2015-18. Linda Frey, Executive Director of the Support Unit, explains more below in the "Faces of Open Government" section. Read the full strategy document here.

IRM organises interactive session and publishes first Technical Paper

On September 24, the Independent Review Mechanism will organise the session 'OGP By the numbers: What the data tells us about the state of open government', on the margins of the UNGA week in New York. At this event, the  IRM will also launch its IRM Technical Paper Number 1, which summarizes the first 43 progress reports.

IRM results unpacked: Who's involved in OGP?

In the run-up to the release of the IRM’s Technical Paper, a brief series will be uploaded on the OGP website looking at what the data does and does not say about OGP participation. This week: Part 1 - Branches of Government

OGP Open Data Working Group proposing open data charter

The OGP Working Group on Open Data is currently working on the creation of an open data charter, that, complemented by a technical annex, can be adopted by OGP countries around the world and may serve to inform them on open data related commitments in their Action Plans.

The buzz on Open Government

Last week, OGP was mentioned twice in the Economist. Read their articles on the trend of restricting foreign funding of NGOs and a decreasing space for civil society here and here.
The Sunlight Foundation launched a campaign to raise awareness around the importance of open formats when publishing legislative information, as part of GLOW. Civil society organisations worldwide signed the public letter that was sent yesterday to national legislatures around the globe to make parliamentary data 'open data by default'.
At the annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) which was held in Istanbul early September, the Global Information Society Watch Report 2014 called 'Communications surveillance in the digital age' was released. You can read it here.
On September 15, the International Day of Democracy, Making All Voices Count, a global initiative that aims to foster and support new ideas to enable better citizen engagement and government responsiveness, launched its second annual Global Innovation Competition (GIC). More info here.
For Your Calendar

September 15-25, 2014:
Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW).

OGP Activities on the margins of the 69th UN General Assembly:
September 24
,2014, 8-10:00: Global Civil Society Leaders Breakfast, Ford Foundation, New York City.

September 24, 2014, 13-14:00: IRM session 'By the numbers: What the data tells us about the state of open government'. (Live steaming via link). OSF office, New York City.

September 24, 2014, 16-17:30: 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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