What is the Open Government Partnership?

What is Open Government?

Open Government is what it says on the tin – a style of government where procedures and decision-making are open to public scrutiny. Its development has come with heightened awareness of integrity and ethics in public life.

What is the Open Government Partnership?

The Open Government Partnership is a global initiative launched in 2011. Its aim is to secure commitments from governments to share more information about their activities. The intention is to increase civic participation in decision-making, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. To join OGP, countries must commit to uphold the principles of open and transparent government by endorsing the Open Government Declaration

Since it was launched in September 2011 by President Obama on the margins of the 66th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the OGP has grown to become a truly global initiative with 64 countries involved.

US President Obama at the launch of the OGP, New York, September 20, 2011

How is OGP governed?

Globally, the OGP is run by a Steering Committee composed of governments and civil society organisations in equal numbers, a unique model that embodies the initiative’s goal of joint government-civic participation. Its chairs are also drawn from both sectors.

What are the steps to full OGP membership?

The Open Government Partnership sets out seven steps to OGP Participation.

STEP 1: Meet the minimum eligibility criteria, and agree to the OGP’s five common expectations. See this explanation of OGP eligibility

STEP 2: Signal the government’s intent to participate in OGP by sending a letter to the OGP Steering Committee for posting on the OGP Portal.

STEP 3: Undertake the broad public consultation to inform the government’s OGP commitments, and identify a multi-stakeholder forum for regular public consultation on OGP implementation.

STEP 4: Develop an OGP country plan with concrete commitments on open government that address at least one of the OGP’s five grand challenge, drawing on the expertise provided by the OGP networking mechanism as needed.

STEP 5: Participate in peer consultation on the OGP country plan with participants and the Steering Committee.

STEP 6: Publicly endorse the OGP Declaration of Principles and deposit the final country plan on the OGP portal.

STEP 7: Publish a self-assessment report on progress after 12 months of OGP implementation, and cooperate with the independent reporting mechanism in generating its own report.

For more information on Ireland and the OGP see the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s website.

OGP’s Five Grand Challenges

OGP asks that country commitments be structured around a set of five ‘grand challenges’ faced by governments.

In their first year of OGP participation, countries will choose at least one of these grand challenges and develop concrete commitments around open government to address it.

All countries are encouraged to tackle more than one challenge in the first year of OGP membership.

The five OGP grand challenges are:

  •  Improving Public Services—measures that address the full spectrum of citizen services including health, education, criminal justice, water, electricity, telecommunications and any other relevant service areas, by fostering public service improvement or private sector innovation
  • Increasing Public Integrity—measures that address corruption and public ethics, access to information, campaign finance reform, and media and civil society freedom
  • More Effectively Managing Public Resources—measures that address budgets, procurement, natural resources and foreign assistance
  • Creating Safer Communities—measures that address public safety, the security sector, disaster and crisis response, and environmental threats
  • Increasing Corporate Accountability—measures that address corporate responsibility on issues such as the environment, anti-corruption, consumer protection, and community engagement

OGP’s Four Core Open Government Principles

While the nature of concrete commitments under any grand challenge area should be flexible and allow for each country’s unique circumstances, the OGP requires that all commitments reflect its four core open government principles. These are:

1. Transparency: information on government activities and decisions is open, comprehensive, timely, freely available to the public and meets basic open data standards (e.g. raw data, machine readability)
2. Citizen Participation: governments seek to mobilize citizens to engage in public debate, provide input, and make contributions that lead to more responsive, innovative and effective governance.
3. Accountability:there are rules, regulations and mechanisms in place that call upon government actors to justify their actions, act upon criticisms or requirements made of them, and accept responsibility for failure to perform with respect to laws or commitments.
4. Technology and Innovation: governments embrace the importance of providing citizens with open access to technology, the role of new technologies in driving innovation, and the importance of increasing the capacity of citizens to use technology.

What is happening elsewhere?

As of May 2014, Sixty-four countries around the world have signed up to the OGP process, the most recent being Australia, Ireland and France. Follow this link for the main Open Government Partnership website, and this one for the OGP Civil Society Hub which explains what OGP is from a civil society perspective.

Join some of the global conversation at the international Open Government Partnership blog, ‘Good Ideas Come From Everywhere’

Take a look at some of the YouTube videos on the Open Government Partnership YouTube Channel. These videos document the OGP journey taken by committed countries across the world.