Open Government Partnership

I was traveling last week (great trip!) and am still trying to catch up on the newly-announced Open Government Partnership.

From their website:

The Open Government Partnership is a global effort to make governments better. We all want more transparent, effective and accountable governments — with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations. But this work is never easy. It takes political leadership. It takes technical knowledge. It takes sustained effort and investment. It takes collaboration between governments and civil society. The Open Government Partnership is a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee of eight governments and nine civil society organizations.

According to the roadmap (PDF), public participation seems to get a fair bit of attention for once.

Step 3 of the “Roadmap to Participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP)” reads as follows (page 2):

Undertake broad public consultation to inform the government’s OGP commitments, and identify a multi-stakeholder forum for regular public consultation on OGP implementation.

And a bit further down in the same document (page 5):

IV. Public Consultation on OGP Commitment Development

OGP participants commit to developing their country action plans through a multiAstakeholder process, with the active engagement of citizens and civil society. Taking account of relevant national laws and policies, OGP participants agree to develop their country commitments according to the following principles:

  1. Countries will make the details of their public consultation process and timeline available (online at minimum) prior to the consultation
  2. Countries will consult widely with the national community, including civil society and the private sector; seek out a diverse range of views and; make a summary of the public consultation and all individual written comment submissions available online
  3. Countries will undertake OGP awareness raising activities to enhance public participation in the consultation
  4. Countries will consult the population with sufficient forewarning and through a variety of mechanisms–including online and through in-person meetings–to ensure the accessibility of opportunities for citizens to engage
  5. Countries will identify a forum to enable regular multi-stakeholder consultation on OGP implementation—this can be an existing entity or a new one

Countries will report on their consultation efforts as part of the self-assessment, and the independent reporting mechanism will also examine the application of these principles in practice.

No details on timeline yet, as far as I can tell, but at first glance this looks very much in line with accepted best practices and hence promising.

Earlier today, Nathaniel Heller, Managing Director at Global Integrity (one of the civic organizations involved in managing this initiative), provided additional background and a little bit of history: Our Role in the Open Government Partnership

Will be interesting to find out who’s driving this process on behalf of the US Government, and how it will tie in with previous or existing open governments-related projects.

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