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January 21, 2015

What's Ahead for OGP in 2015?

by The OGP Team

The Open Government Partnership is now 65 countries strong. Those countries have used the OGP platform to make over 2000 open government reform commitments. Around the world hundreds of civil society organizations and activists have put their energy into making OGP a true partnership between government and citizens. In 2015 this pace of achievement must be strengthened in five areas as we begin the implementation of the new OGP 2015-18 strategy.

Stronger Country Plans

The core of OGP participation is a two-year National Action Plan co-created between government and civil society, with individual commitments that address the particular challenges a country is facing. In 2015, 25 countries are required to produce new action plans, meaning there is an opportunity for reformers in government, and campaigners outside of government, to fight for ambitious policy commitments. OGP can also be a real race to the top between countries if the most innovative and testing commitments are replicated from country to country. This includes tackling politically challenging open government issues such as access to justice, security, money laundering and freedom of the press. It also means engaging a wider range of ministries and public facing agencies to be part of the OGP action plan process.

The following countries are expected to publish new National Action Plans in 2015: Argentina; Australia; Azerbaijan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Colombia; Costa Rica; Finland; France; Ghana; Hungary; Israel; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Malta; Mexico; Montenegro; Norway; Panama; Peru; Philippines; Slovak Republic; South Africa; Turkey; and the United States.
These plans are mainly due by June 30th, with consultation meetings expected to begin this month. A major determinant of the strength of the final plans is how diverse and strong the civil society organizations are that engage in the process, including from the international coalitions on open government topics such as tax, extractive industries, open data and access to information.

Standing up for Civil Society

OGP countries are not immune from the worrying global trend that has seen space for civil society restricted, and in some cases funding choked off and activists jailed. Freedom of the press has also been under attack in far too many countries, often linked to efforts to expose corruption and access information...Continue Reading here.
Starting this year, OGP will feature interesting and ambitious commitments from participating countries. We encourage readers to dive deeper and follow their development and implementation.

Country: Georgia
Commitment: Transparent Party Financing
Action Plan: 2012-2013

In 2011 Georgia adopted a completely new framework for political party financing that was endorsed by the Venice Commission. The new framework allows citizens to observe where the finances of political parties come from. 
The Supreme Audit Institution (formerly the Chamber of Audit) started publishing financial declarations of all political parties and information about their election campaign contributors in January 2012. They also created standardised forms for political parties to provide different types of data on their income, expenditures, and financial transactions.

Read more in Georgia's Progress Report
Find more interesting commitments here
Faces of Open Government
Mukelani Dimba is Executive Director of the Open Democracy Advice Centre in South Africa. He currently serves as a civil society member on the OGP Steering Committee.
‪Give one example or anecdote of why open government matters to you personally? How is it making a difference in people’s lives?

Because of my age I do not remember South African life before Apartheid. By the time I was born, Nelson Mandela had already been in prison for more than 15 years, the massacre of students in Soweto had occurred a year before in 1976. Apartheid was already a well-oiled machine, the oppressive government was feared, loathed, inaccessible and yet omnipresent and omnipotent. I grew up with a view of government as a mysterious and evil force that dictated the course of our lives, unchallenged and unseen. For me open government is and should be the opposite of that which I experienced growing up in Apartheid South Africa. It is about democracy being practiced beyond the electoral season: people fully being informed on a day-to-day basis of the decisions and actions of their government and freely debating those decisions and actions, and by so doing influencing them.
Why does the issue you are working on matter within the OGP context?

Transparency and accountability are respectively the means and the outcome of OGP. At the core of OGP is the ability of the citizens to be fully informed about how governments make decisions on their behalf. Freedom of information, my area of expertise, is the necessary tool to connect the citizens with decision making at government level. Without information the people will not be able to influence what government does on their behalf and at worse they may not even know what decisions are being made on their behalf. 

Describe one OGP commitment from your country/region that you are proud of? 

The commitment on the possible establishment of an environmental data portal...continue reading here

Latest news on OGP    

New OGP Action Plans

New National Action Plans have recently been submitted by El SalvadorItalyLatvia, Serbia and Ukraine.

Civil Society discuss the future of OGP in South Africa

During the first two days of December 2014, a variety of South African civil society and government stakeholders met at the Nelson Mandela Foundation to discuss the future of the Open Government Partnership in South Africa. OGP Steering Committee member and Director of ODAC, Mukelani Dimba, writes about the highlights of the meeting.

IRM Report Launches

The IRM will be publishing progress reports for eight countries in the next few months. Mark your calendars for the public commenting periods listed below:

Jan 31 to Feb 15
Costa Rica, Panama, Finland, Liberia & Ghana
Feb 7 to Feb 21
Hungary & Netherlands
Feb 31 to Mar 22

The buzz on Open Government

US Civil Society coalition publishes new OGP report 

US civil society coalition Open the Government published its second civil society progress report on the implementation of the United States’ second National Action Plan. According to the report, the US government remains on-course to meet the majority of its commitments one year into the two-year implementation period. Read more monitoring reports on the OGPHub and let us know if your report is not on it yet.
CSO's demand expanding the scope of OGP in Mexico

As a response to the political and social challenges Mexico is facing, CSO's demanded that Mexico's Action Plan underscore the importance of consolidating the rule of law and and unrestricted respect for Human Rights. 
Negotiating financing for development commitments: Lessons from OGP

Kiess and Burgett from the Gates Foundation write about how the post-2015 financing for development negotiation process can learn from OGP. Governments, CSOs, emerging donors and private companies would earn an equal seat at the table by tailoring commitments to their own capabilities and resources - and all this could help raise the ambition of countries and the likelihood of follow through.
Upcoming Webinars
January 22, 2015, 10:00 am EST
Citizen Feedback for Advancing Open Government (English).
More information and registration here.

January 27, 2015, 10:00 am EST
Presentación de la Política en Materia de Defensa de los Valores y Principios de OGP (Spanish).
More information and registration here.

February 3, 2015, 8:30 EST 
Introducing the Policy on Upholding the Values and Principles of OGP (English)
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