OGP Newsletter
September 2015 
Members of OGP accepting the Commitment to Development "Ideas in Action" Award, given annually by the Center for Global Development, November 2014
Parting Reflections from Linda Frey 

Dear friends and colleagues:

In just a few days I will be stepping down from my role as the Executive Director of the OGP Support Unit.  I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and encouragement over the past several years – but moreover, for your willingness to consistently challenge and stretch OGP as a tool for political reform.

The last three years have been incredibly demanding, but I’m so proud of what we together have achieved.  Looking back to when I joined, it’s hard to believe that in early 2013 there were just three full-time staff (including me!) on the OGP payroll and less than $100,000 in the bank. I spent my first year in a perpetual state of panic, trying to figure out how to build a team and strategy to support 60+ participating countries, an 18-member global Steering Committee, and a hugely ambitious set of expectations that far exceeded the Support Unit’s capacity to deliver.

Knowing this, you may wonder why I took on this challenge in the first place.  There are three basic reasons. First, I am convinced that governments work better when they are open, accountable and responsive to the people they serve, and I wanted to help advance this goal.  Second, I found OGP’s early track record in securing high-level political support extremely compelling, since changing the culture of government clearly requires a mandate from the very top. Finally, I was attracted to OGP because it is an action-oriented partnership of ‘doers,’ NOT a top-down development initiative or diplomatic talk shop. Every country that joins – regardless of its size or stature – plays by the same rules and is subject to the same independent reporting.  This is how it should be, since every country has something to share and something to learn..continue reading here

Civil Society Day at the OGP Global Summit in Mexico

by Maikol Porras (@maikolporras)
Consultant, Civil Society Engagement, Open Government Partnership Support Unit

On October 27th, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from around the world will gather in Mexico City for a day of discussion and planning prior to the OGP Global Summit on the 28th and 29th. The CSOs will share their challenges and achievements promoting open government and working with OGP. In addition, they will discuss crucial questions including how to:

  • engage new civil society stakeholders
  • promote open government reforms in subnational levels
  • further the role civil society can play in supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • broaden the impact and scope of civic and social stakeholders
  • best address justice and human rights challenges
  • better unite the multiple groups already engaged with OGP
  • enhance the role of CSOs within OGP in order to maximize the impact of commitments set in National Action Plans
Like the Global Summit, the CSO event will take place at Mexico’s Palacio de Minería. After the 9:00 opening by the OGP's CSE team and members of OGP’s Steering Committee, participants will have the opportunity to meet and exchange opinions. The second part of the morning will be dedicated to special analysis and discussion sessions.
The afternoon schedule will be composed of workshops, lectures, and bilateral meetings proposed by participants.
The CSO Day will close at 6 pm with a toast to celebrate the opportunity the Global Summit offers to further enhance the relationship between governments and CSOs. Special attention will be paid to the potential transparency, accountability, participation, and citizen empowerment play in addressing the global and specific challenges we all face.
We look forward to meeting you in Mexico!
Quote of the Month

"It takes a determined partnership of international and domestic actors to keep shaky new democracies from being derailed by problems like systemic corruption and ethnic conflict."

     - Larry Diamond,  Director - Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law, Stanford University, as quoted in the article "Why Technology Hasn't Delivered more Democracy?" 
OGP and Subnational Governments

Many of you will have seen the paper on engaging subnational governments in OGP that was presented at the July Steering Committee meeting in South Africa (or the subsequent blog from Steering Committee members Nathaniel Heller and Manish Bapna). Given the considerable open government activity and innovation taking place at a subnational level, we are convinced that there is a great deal we can learn from them. This is why this will be one of the main topics at the Mexico Summit.

Key government officials and civil society organizations that have a focus on cities and regional governments have been invited to Mexico to discuss possibly ways of working with OGP. Our plan is to establish a pilot program in order to determine the best way for OGP to support open government initiatives on a subnational level.

The details of the pilot programme are currently being worked out, but by sharing and celebrating these examples at the Summit we hope to inspire reformers from all arenas to embrace learning and experience from open governments around the world, and help us as a community decide on a framework to best support one another.

We'd be really keen to hear from you if you're aware of particularly interesting subnational innovations or people leading this kind of work who you think should be part of the Summit and the longer term pilot programme. Please get in touch with Kitty von Bertele if you have any suggestions or would like to discuss this further.

Country: Costa Rica
Commitment: Public Institution Transparency Index
National Action Plan: 2013-14

In Costa Rica there is no transparency index that measures all State institutions according to the same standards, nor a local body that systematically publishes reports on the transparency of the management of each institution. During 2013, the Ombudsman conducted a pilot plan in which he developed an index to measure how transparent state agencies are, using criteria such as access to information, proper management of public resources, promoting citizen participation and accountability. He applied the methodology to 44 public institutions. The evaluation showed that 50% publish rules in the institutional website, 70% do not disclose annual reports or the results of internal audits, and 68% do not share information about their pay grades. 

At the time of this IRM progress report (September 2014), the final methodology to rank the institutions was pending scientific validation from a specialized institution. The Ombudsman, with whose unique resources the index was prepared, estimated that this action would cost about US $ 20,000, however lack of resources had held up the full completion of this commitment.  “Rankings” have had a demonstrated impact on Costa Rican institutions. With due acceptance on behalf of the institutions and adequate support from the state in terms of promotion, this initiative could change the way in which government bodies manage themselves and encourage radical change in them. Read more in Costa Rica's IRM report.

Faces of Open Government

Fernando Straface is co-founder and Executive Director of CIPPEC, and OGP Civil Society Steering Committee Member.
How does open government make a difference in people’s lives?
Open government impacts on people’s lives, both directly by enabling citizens to access public information and oversee state actions and practices, as well as indirectly, by creating a climate of consultation and collaborative policy design conducive to more effective, prudent governance. Furthermore, and fundamentally, people benefit from improved public policies. These policies are rooted in consultation and shaped not by politicians in isolation but by private and civil society stakeholders and the public at large. This enhances citizens’ and other stakeholders’ sense of engagement and influence, shortens the distance between them and those running their country, and it means poor governance practices come into view and are less tenable, while conversely good governance gets noticed and promoted. In sum, open government improves the perceived – and actual – quality of governance and policymaking, benefiting people greatly...continue reading here.

OGP Research

Report published on civic engagement in OGP countries

Last month, the report 'From Informing to Empowering: Improving Government-Civil Society Interactions within OGP' was published. The report, commissioned by Hivos and carried out with a grant of the IDRC in Canada, looked at government-civil society interactions within 9 OGP member countries: Peru, Honduras, Chile, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, Croatia, Romania, and Armenia. The central questions guiding the report are: How have governments in OGP participating countries interacted with civil society on matters related to OGP? And, what factors have been critical for success or failure?

Ultimately, the authors of the report found that there are several opportunities for improved citizen engagement within OGP countries. One of the mechanisms that works well and helps to empower civil society is the existence of a regular structure for OGP dialogue within a country. Croatia, which has an OGP Council that oversees the development and monitoring of its NAP serves as a good example. The key for success seems to have been the transparent selection of members; as well as the involvement of enthusiastic and proactive public servants, and expert CSO representatives working toward the same goals.

The authors of the report published a blog post on their main findings, in which they also included a final list of ten recommendations to OGP. You can also directly go to the the shorter policy brief or read the full report. You can sign up for a presentation on the report which will take place on 9 September here.

Paul Maassen - Director of OGP Civil Society Engagement (left) and Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa - Director General of Innovation and Civic Engagement, Government of Mexico (right) peruse the 300+ proposals received for the OGP Global Summit in Mexico this October.
Latest News on OGP
Argentina and Hungary submit New National Action Plans in August
Eighteen countries were due to submit their new National Action Plans by the end of June 2015. Is your country one of them? Check the calendar. To date the following countries have published their new Plans: Finland, Liberia, Colombia, Panama, Israel, Argentina and Hungary.
OGP Western Balkans Regional Dialogue
On September 10th and 11th over 200 representatives from civil society and government will gather in Tirana, Albania for the Western Balkans Regional Dialogue on the Open Government Partnership.   The objective of the event is for participants to reflect on effective initiatives to further open government and highlight ways of overcoming challenges and obstacles.  Participants should return home inspired by the progress of their neighbors and equipped to pursue an even more ambitious OGP agenda in the next action plan. 

OGP and the Governance Data Alliance
The Governance Data Alliance (GDA) is a new initiative uniting non-governmental organizations, multilateral donors, and governments who produce and consume governance data. OGP has been involved in the GDA from early in the initiative’s planning and was 
thrilled to be named a founding participating organization in July 2015. We’ve prepared this short blog to answer some questions about OGP’s participation with the GDA. 
ADB OGP Asia Pacific Meeting
The ADB OGP Asian Pacific meeting will take place in Manila on 7-8 September. The meeting will bring together approximately 50 government, civil society, multilateral organizations and foundations with the goal of sharing progress on open government reforms and exchanging ideas on broadening and deepening OGP. The agenda for the meeting can be found here. This will follow closely on the heels of the OGP Town Hall Session at the 16th IACC in Malaysia. Follow both events on Twitter using #16IACC #OGPAsia and stay tuned for outcomes from these events.

The IRM is hiring!
Check out the IRM call for researchers in Malta, Panama and Sierra Leone as well as a posting for a Spanish-speaking consultancy

What are the most important elements of a strong National Action Plan? Share your thoughts by filling out our short survey.
Over the past 18 months, the OGP Support Unit's Civil Society Engagement Team, together with the think-tank and public participation organization Involve, has been building and testing a new tool to help civil society evaluate participating country's National Action Plans. The project's main objective is to equip national civil society in OGP countries with an advocacy tool to help them push for stronger engagement from government and more ambitious action plans. Please help us develop the CSO National Action Plan Review Tool by completing this short survey.

The Buzz on Open Government     

Involving People in EU governance
In an opinion piece for the EU Observer, Neil Campbell wrote: "There is a general consensus that EU governance is not working...Transparency and accountability of the EU refers to EU governance. But EU governance is about much more: the content of decisions and the processes that lead to those decisions."

Earlier this year, the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, asked commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans to explore the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as a possible mechanism for improving EU governance.  The commission should start by asking EU member states committed to better governance through the OGP what they have learned and what could be taken to the EU institutions. Read more here.

Webinars and Events
Open Government, Engaged Citizens
Balkans OGP Dialogue 2015

September 10-11, Tirana, Albania
More information here

Transparency Camp 2015
September 11-12, Washington, D.C.
More information here

OGP at the United Nations
OGP will launch a declaration at the UN General Assembly about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role OGP can play in their implementation.
Follow us
Check out our newsletter archive
Copyright © 2015 Open Government Partnership, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences