Open Government Partnership
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and subnational 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 including representatives of governments and civil society organizations.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was formally launched on September 20, 2011 on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting during which Heads of State from 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration and announced their country action plans along with an equal number of civil society leaders. The eight founding members also welcomed the commitment of 38 governments to join OGP. Since its creation, OGP has resulted in over 2,500 commitments made by 75 participating countries, covering a third of the world's population.
OGP held its first annual high-level meeting on April 17–18, 2012 in Brasilia, Brazil. Just six months after its start, OGP had grown from eight action plans and 46 participating countries to 50 action plans and 54 participating countries. The meeting in Brasilia brought together countries and organizations united in their belief in the power of transparency, with participation from anti-censorship campaigners in Yemen to reformers using data on primary schools to improve education in India.
The United Kingdom became OGP co-chair in September 2012 determined to support members in delivering on their transparency commitments. 46 members had already published action plans containing over 300 open government commitments. According to then Minister of the United Kingdom's Cabinet Office responsible for public transparency and open data, Frances Maude, Britain sought to "further secure the foundations of OGP as a globally recognized and respected international initiative…. [and to] strengthen the role of civil society organizations, encouraging greater collaboration with governments to forge more innovative and open ways of working."
In October 2013, Indonesia took on the government co-chairmanship role along with civil society co-chair Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza. That year, OGP's thematic goals centered around Citizen Action and Responsive Government. In an era of hyperconnectivity, openness and transparency, as well as citizen participation and collaboration, are increasingly viewed as essential components of good governance .
In October 2014, the Government of Mexico and Suneeta Kaimal, Chief Operating Officer of the Natural Resources Governance Institute (NRGI), became OGP co-chairs. With the adoption and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by world leaders at a historic United Nations Summit, including Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 for the "promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies," 2015 marked a milestone for the future of development outcomes and open government. In October 2015, the Government of Mexico hosted the third OGP Global Summit in Mexico City emphasizing the theme of "Openness for All: Using the Open Government principles as key mechanisms to implement the post-2015 development agenda."
The Government of South Africa and Alejandro Gonzalez, GESOC, also became co-chairs of OGP in October 2015.
In early 2016, OGP launched a new pilot program designed to involve subnational governments more proactively in the initiative.
In December 2016, the Government of France, in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI), hosted the fourth OGP Global Summit in the nation's capital, Paris, gathering 3000 representatives from 70 countries.
OGP provides a platform for reformers inside and outside of governments around the world to develop initiatives that promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. OGP aims to secure concrete commitments from national and subnational governments that drive open government reform and innovation in an effort to push countries further in the areas of transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement. It is a voluntary partnership that countries opt to join and through which civil society organizations, in collaboration with government, can advance initiatives that they deem in line with their reform agendas.
Rather than establish a worldwide transparency ranking of countries, OGP provides support and encouragement to countries around the world as they champion ambitious new reforms and deliver on their promises "under the watchful eyes of citizens," The community of reformers is meant to "offer support to those in government that are willing and to create a hook whereby the conversations among government and civil societies can occur."
This relationship between government and civil society is the cornerstone of OGP. Governments are expected to actively collaborate with civil society when drafting and implementing country commitments, as well as when reporting on and monitoring efforts. The OGP process requires government to consult with civil society and citizens, and the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) assesses the quality of this consultation.
OGP can serve as a platform to construct a diverse coalition of civil society actors from a variety of disciplines.
The principles of OGP are best explained by the Open Government Declaration. As outlined in the declaration, participating countries are expected to adhere to the following principles:
- Acknowledge that people all around the world are demanding more openness in government. They are calling for greater civic participation in public affairs, and seeking ways to make their governments more transparent, responsive, accountable, and effective.
- Recognize that countries are at different stages in their efforts to promote openness in government, and that each of us pursues an approach consistent with our national priorities and circumstances and the aspirations of our citizens.
- Accept responsibility for seizing this moment to strengthen our commitments to promote transparency, fight corruption, empower citizens, and harness the power of new technologies to make government more effective and accountable.
- Uphold the value of openness in our engagement with citizens to improve services, manage public resources, promote innovation, and create safer communities. We embrace principles of transparency and open government with a view toward achieving greater prosperity, well-being, and human dignity in our own countries and in an increasingly interconnected world.
OGP participating countries declare their commitment to:
- Increase the availability of information about governmental activities
- Support civic participation
- Implement the highest standards of professional integrity throughout our administrations
- Increase access to new technologies for openness and accountability
As a multi-stakeholder initiative, civil society participation is enshrined in OGP's foundational principles and management structures. Governments and civil society play an equally important role in managing the OGP through participation in the Steering Committee, OGP's executive management body, as well as at the national level.
- Steering Committee – The OGP Steering Committee provides guidance and direction at the international level in order to maintain the highest standards for the initiative and ensure its long-term sustainability. It is composed of equal numbers of representatives of governments and civil society organizations. OGP's leadership regularly rotates by appointing a new government co-chair and a new civil society co-chair every year. Incoming government and civil society members of the Steering Committee are selected by their peers.
- Subcommittees – Members of the OGP Steering Committee delegate work to the OGP Subcommittees. There are three subcommittees: 1) Governance and Leadership; 2) Criteria and Standards; and 3) Peer Learning and Exchange. The principle of parity is preserved in the Subcommittees as an equal number of government and civil society representatives serves in each one.
- Open Government Partnership Thematic Working Groups – There are currently six OGP Working Groups that contribute to peer exchange and learning across the partnership. The ultimate goal is to support the creation and effective implementation of more ambitious open government commitments in the OGP national action plans.
- Fiscal Openness Working Group: led by the Global Initiative on Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) and the Governments of Brazil and Philippines
- Legislative Openness Working Group: Led by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Government of Chile
- Access to Information Working Group: Led by the Government of Mexico (Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection) and the Carter Center.
- Anti-Corruption Working Group: Led by the Open Society Foundations, Transparency International, and the Governments of Brazil, Georgia, and the United Kingdom.
- Open Data Working Group: Led by the Web Foundation and the Government of Canada
- Openness in Natural Resources Working Group: Led by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Government of Indonesia.
- The Support Unit – The OGP Support unit is a small, permanent secretariat that works closely with the Steering Committee to advance the goals of the OGP. It is designed to maintain institutional memory, manage OGP's external communications, ensure the continuity of organizational relationships with OGP's partners, and support the broader membership. It also serves as a neutral, third-party between governments and civil society organizations, ensuring that OGP maintains a productive balance between the two constituencies.
- Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) – The IRM is the key means by which all stakeholders can track OGP progress in participating countries. The IRM produces biannual independent progress reports for each country participating in OGP. Progress reports assess governments on the development and implementation of their OGP action plans, as well as their progress in upholding open government principles. The reports also provide technical recommendations for improvements. These reports are intended to stimulate dialogue and promote accountability between member governments and citizens.
- Civil Society Engagement – The CSE Team works to broaden, strengthen and engage a strong civil society network to participate in OGP, particularly at the national level. The team supports national civil society actors to help them make better use of the OGP process – including the design, implementation and monitoring of OGP action plans – for achieving their own advocacy objectives.
- Subnational Government Pilot Program - Launched in 2016, this pilot program seeks to extend the principles of OGP to the local level. 15 subnational governments were selected to participate in the pilot program and, with the support of the OGP Support Unit and Steering committee, have developed national action plans in collaboration with civil society. They will actively contribute to peer learning and networking activities with other subnational governments and, like OGP's member countries, will be assessed by the IRM.
How it works
- Eligibility Criteria – In order to participate in OGP, governments must exhibit a demonstrated commitment to open government in four key areas, as measured by objective indicators and validated by independent experts. The four critical areas of open government: fiscal transparency, access to information, asset disclosure and citizen engagement. Countries can earn a total of 16 points for their performance in these four metrics, or 12 points if they are not measured in one of the metrics. Countries that earn 75% of the applicable points (either 12 out of 16 or 9 out of 12) or more are eligible to join. For an eligible country to join, all that is required is a letter from a ministerial representative indicating agreement with the Open Government Declaration and intent to participate OGP, as well as the leading agency and an individual point of contact for future work.
- Action plan co-creation – OGP participating countries co-create a National Action Plan (NAP) with civil society. The actions plans are "the driving device" for OGP as it is the instrument through which government and civil society develop their agreed reforms, or commitments, every two years. The set of commitments aim to advance transparency, accountability, participation and/or technological innovation. Countries, with the active involvement of civil society, are encouraged to tackle new and ambitious commitments as well as build upon past successes. Effective public consultation process during the development of action plans can help build broad support for commitments with a wider set of actors to rely on for successful implementation. OGP participating countries operate on a two-year action plan calendar cycle, whereby countries are continuously implementing their programs. The government must regularly report on its progress and work with civil society to monitor and achieve the agreed reforms. Progress is evaluated at regular intervals by an independent researcher appointed by the OGP's Independent Reporting Mechanism.
- Gatherings and Awards – OGP country participants gather regularly at regional and global events to share their findings in person and to strengthen international cooperation. The most significant of these events has been the Global Summit, held annually since 2012. At the 2013 Global Summit, the Steering Committee voted to skip the 2014 Summit and reconvene in 2015. Brazil hosted the first Global Summit in 2012, the United Kingdom in 2013, Mexico in October 2015, while the most recent 2016 OGP Global Summit was held in Paris. In addition to providing spaces where participating countries and civil society groups could share information in person, OGP wanted to find a way to showcase standout efforts of global transparency leaders. Therefore, in 2014, OGP held the inaugural OGP Awards. This event recognizes the most compelling and impactful examples of open government innovation among a pool of applications from civil society organizations. There are seven different award categories. The 2016 winners were:
- First Place: Ukraine
- Second Place: Indonesia
- Third Place: Honduras
- Asia and Oceania Regional Award: Mongolia
- Americas Regional Award: Mexico
- European Regional Award: Netherlands
- African Regional Award: Malawi
Funding for OGP comes from participating countries, donors and development partners.
- Country contributions – In May 2014, it was agreed that all participating governments are expected to contribute towards OGP's budget. Contributions are based on each participating country's income level (according to the World Bank Data). Steering Committee set both minimum and recommended contribution levels. For low income: minimum US$10,000, recommended US$25,000. Lower Middle Income: minimum US$25,000, recommended US$50,000. Upper Middle Income: minimum US$50,000, recommended US$100,000. High Income: minimum US$100,000, recommended US$200,000.
- Donors – Grants made in 2015 came from Omidyar Network, Department for International Development (Government of the United Kingdom), Hewlett Foundation, Open Society Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.
Current participating countries
The following countries have met the minimum eligibility criteria and have joined the OGP:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Cabo Verde
- Costa Rica
- Côte d'Ivoire
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Sierra Leone
- Slovak Republic
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Kingdom
- United States
The following countries have been marked as inactive for acting contrary to the OGP process:
The following countries have demonstrated that they have met the minimum criteria of eligibility and are eligible to join OGP:
- Kyrgyz Republic
- Azerbaijan: On March 2, 2015, three civil society groups in Azerbaijan submitted a letter detailing concerns about their ability to continue their work in the country. Under the Policy on Upholding the Values and Principles of OGP, also known as the Response Policy, adopted in 2014, on May 18, 2015, a report was completed detailing the Steering Committee's investigation into such concerns. As it found the concerns valid it also detailed further steps for the OGP to take. Despite working with the country and attempting to find a solution that would work for all parties, on May 4, 2016, Azerbaijan was listed as inactive with the Open Government Partnership. Azerbaijan had been a member of OGP since 2011.
- Hungary: On July 9, 2015, representatives of Hungarian civil society submitted a letter requesting the Open government Partnership's Steering Committee to take action regarding the behavior and attitude of the Hungarian government, claiming that the government had been active in propagating a smear campaign against civil society organizations, creating a culture detrimental to continued efforts by the country's NGOs. On December 7, 2016, the OGP Steering Committee received a letter from the Government of Hungary announcing its immediate withdrawal from the partnership. The Government of Hungary had been under review by OGP since July 2015 for concerns raised by civil society organizations regarding their space to operate in the country.
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