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May 2015

Mexico Announces OGP Global Summit

Mexico recently announced that the OGP Global Summit will be held at Guadalajara, Mexico during October 27-29, 2015.  Mexico has chosen ‘Open Government as an enabler of inclusive development’ as the theme for this year’s Summit. This arises from a need to strengthen Open Government, include those people with the greatest needs; and the value that emanates from a space in which civil society and government representatives can exchange ideas regarding the future implementation and impact of open government policies around the world. Watch this space in the future for more updates!

100th OGP National Action Plan Submitted

Joe Powell, Deputy Director of OGP Support Unit
Finland has today published the 100th Open Government Partnership action plan since the initiative launched in 2011. These plans have contained over 2000 specific open government reform commitments, representing a remarkable effort from the 65 governments participating in OGP and the hundreds of civil society organizations that helped influence the policy agenda in their countries.

The National Action Plan is at the core of any country’s participation in OGP. It is a technocratic term for a political document that commits the government to a series of reforms that should address some of the biggest challenges the country is facing. These reforms should reflect the priorities of reformers in government and civil society, and should have a clear openness dimension. Analysis of OGP to date shows that countries have prioritized public participation, open data, fiscal transparency, public service delivery and access to information. Countries are required to publish a new action plan every two years and are independently assessed on the implementation of their commitments.

The Finnish action plan - their second since joining in 2013 - is a good example of how a government has used the OGP platform to focus on national priorities. The overall theme is improving youth participation and making progress on digital government. Under that heading they have included commitments to make public services more customer friendly, to improve engagement of children and youth in state government, to open up government data to businesses and civil society, and to consider creating a lobbying register. If implemented successfully the Finnish government believe these reforms will help win back citizen trust and increase participation. The plan calls for “enhancing open government [to] be part of all public governance development”.

..continue reading here.

Making sure there's room for the 'P' in OGP

Linda Frey, Executive Director of OGP Support Unit

The P in OGP stands for Partnership.  Not just any partnership, but a unique coming together of government and civil society to make progress on critical open government reforms.  The model works best if government officials and civil society activists in the country find ways to work together to make government more transparent and responsive to citizens.  
This model often requires ‘changing the culture of government’ - the theme of OGP’s new video [link], launched last September at our High-Level Event at the United Nations. 
At this same event, President Obama captured well why this culture shift is so important:
“The Open Government Partnership is not simply a partnership between governments; it’s between governments and their citizens.  At times, this can be frustrating.  At times, it can be contentious… But, as leaders, making our governments more open does mean that as a consequence of [that] criticism, there’s self-reflection.  And it means that questions are asked that might not have otherwise been asked.”
In order to effectively participate and ask difficult questions of their government, citizens must be able to consolidate their interests – and influence - by coming together in civil society organizations.  This, in turn, requires laws and regulations that protect the following principle, endorsed by all OGP participating countries: 
“We commit to protecting the ability of not-for-profit and civil society organizations to operate in ways consistent with our commitment to freedom of expression, association, and opinion.”  OGP Open Government Declaration
Respect for these freedoms is critical to the OGP model, which is why every country that joins OGP is asked to sign on to the Declaration.  However, establishing an adequate legal framework for civil society to thrive can be challenging in practice. .  Organizations like the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) have decades of experience studying and developing guidance on this very issue. Next week they are convening a Global Forum in Stockholm on ‘Shaping Civic Space.’ Continue reading here.

Faces of Open Government

Vuk Vujnovic
Secretary General 
South East Europe Public Sector Communication Association (SEECOM)
Government of Montenegro
How does open government make a difference in people’s lives?
Open government brings democracy back to its roots and gives people a real say in how their communities and nations are governed. It’s about engaging citizens in the planning, design and implementation of public policies. But it is also about pooling together the skills and resources of entire societies and helping governments to create better policies, ones that are more in tune with people’s actual needs, expectations or concerns. I strongly believe that the global open government movement is not a passing craze, but rather an irreversible process of gradually setting new democracy standards for today’s world.
How have you benefited from exchanging ideas with civil society?
In my experience, public administration can benefit greatly by being true to open government principles. For one thing, public authorities alone rarely have all the resources and skills they need for the most effective design and implementation of public policies. The resources and skills of the civil society and the engagement of individual citizens can help the authorities to perform better. Furthermore, whether we like it or not, public authorities are not always the most credible source of information. Partnership with civil society and meaningful citizen engagement can, therefore, bring more credibility and greater public confidence in government efforts. Applying the principles of open government has proven particularly valuable when introducing a policy that requires active citizen involvement, or a major change in people’s behaviour... continue reading here.

Latest news on OGP    

France elected OGP chair for 2016-17

Congratulations to France for being selected the new OGP Chair for 2016-17! France outlined three priorities of their action as Chair, which match the OGP four-year strategy: consolidating the partnership, raising the profile of the partnership and promoting and sharing innovation and learning across the OGP civil society and government members. Read more on France's detailed response here.

Statement of the Government of Turkey on their participation in OGP

Turkey’s participation in the Open Government Partnership has been under review by the OGP Criteria and Standards subcommittee after they were found acting in contrary to the OGP process for two consecutive action plan cycles due to inactivity. The Criteria and Standards subcommittee invited the Government of Turkey to participate in a meeting in Washington DC on March 9, 2015, to discuss steps to fully re-engage in OGP.  In response to this review the Government of Turkey sent a statement for public release about their re-engagement with OGP

The buzz on Open Government

Open MENA analyzes openness performance of Jordan and Tunisia.

Following an earlier blog post  about the World Justice Project's Open Government Index, Open MENA compared the OGP and general openness performance of Jordan and Tunisia. While discussing the different methodologies for measuring openness, they conclude that assessments of who-is-more-open can not be seen loose from the deeply political actions and operative approach of initiatives like OGP. 

Just Released: New Video on the Power of Open Budgets

The International Budget Partnership launched its new video 'Open Budgets. Transform Lives.'on how civil society can use budget analysis and advocacy to transform the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable. Through the stories of three IBP partners you’ll see the changes that can occur when citizens, civil society, and the media hold governments accountable for how they spend public money.

Launch of The Environmental Democracy Index 

The Access Initiative and the World Resources Institute will be launching the Environmental Democracy Index on May 20 in Washington, DC. The Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) is a new, interactive online tool and the first index to measure and rank countries’ commitments to access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters. Learn more about how citizens can ensure the right and ability to influence decisions about their natural resources on The Access Initiative's website

AidData launches new report on policy change

The Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change is a new report which draws upon the firsthand experiences and observations of nearly 6,750 policymakers and practitioners in 126 developing countries to tell us which sources of external analysis and advice are actually being used by decision-makers on the ground in low income and middle income countries -- and why. 

Upcoming Webinars and events

Wednesday, May 6, 10:00-11:00 EST
Webinar on 'Engaging with Access to Information: the 2015 Work Plan of the OGP ATI Working Group'. Register  for this webinar here

May 19-21, 2015
The OGP Africa Regional Meeting will take place in two weeks in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. More information about visas, hotels, and event logistics can be found here.
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