Happy anniversary OGP!

One year old this month and growing like cabbage (as we say in my mother tongue). You have all seen the numbers: almost 60 countries, more than 300 commitments. Some teething problems, but processes and principles are almost in place. Is OGP ready to start delivering change on the ground? Is civil society ready to play its part? Over the last two months we ran a civil society survey that over a 100 people from across the globe responded to. In summary: most of you - the respondents from the OGP community - are working for NGOs that are working on your countries favourite commitment areas (LINK TO GI) and are hoping that OGP will leverage the transparency and accountability work in your countries. You found the consultation process not good, nor bad, yet agree that more actors – from government and civil society should be involved and that a more structured process of collaboration would be helpful. You are mildly positive about the commitments delivered, but do think important ones are missing. You see OGP as a positive force in your country and - knowing the context and players best - are best equipped to generate change in your own country. The added value you expect me to bring is primarily access to experiences, cases and knowledge on issues of open government and on the OGP mechanism itself. In return you are very willing to support me and the Steering Committee in shaping OGP further, by giving advice, hosting interns, building communication platforms. But primarily by collecting and sharing your own knowledge, cases and experiences. All in all you are a positive bunch, expecting OGP to help you make your country a more open society, and willing to play your part in realizing it. Not a bad baseline at all. The honeymoon is over though. The next 12 months civil society should on the one hand hold governments to account in delivering the commitments it made, challenge them to stretch themselves beyond easy or existing promises – and on the other hand work with them to make change happen. For me, one of the most exciting things OGP embodies is the concept of partnership – making this work together, trying new things out. Not always comfortable if you are used to doing things a certain way. But joining forces can bring better results. Over the last months we have seen some appealing examples of openness and trust in getting OGP on the road– in Ukraine, in Croatia, in Mexico, in the US (just to name a few). It has been said by others – the coming year is crucial to start seeing delivery on commitments and to see lived realities change. That in the end is what will measure the success of OGP.

In the piece below I provide a more in depth look at the answers of the respondents. It follows the logic of the survey as much as possible, so you can trace the answers back to the dataset and summary (attached). Some repetition is the inevitable side effect of that! The first set of questions was about getting a sense of who the active OGP community - or at least who the respondents are. To give you a sense, the mailing list has about 400 names on it, and 105 people responded to the survey (September 10). 69.4% of you work with an NGO, 15.3% describe yourself as academics and the rest of you are spread over foundations (5.1%), professional organisations (4.1%), media (3.1%), charitable (3.1%) and community groups (4.1%). Most respondents are working on open government issues in the US (14.3%), closely followed by Indonesia (13.3%) and Kenya (11.2%). Ghana and Mexico were key respondents too (each 7.1%). In total the respondents covered over 75 different countries – there is space for some more OGP members it seems… Global Integrity did a quick analysis some time ago to categorize the commitments. Interestingly enough that analysis matches nicely with the topics the respondents indicated they are working on. Can we boldly say that the advocacy efforts of OGP civil society community influenced the commitments? Or is it the other way around. In any case 69.4% of respondents work on access/right to information, closely followed by those working on open (government) data (67.4%). Two worlds that need to come together more closely if you ask me. 61.8% works on citizen engagement – core to the work of civil society one would think. Anti-corruption organisations are a strong fourth with 50.6%, which shows the great uptake of OGP with Transparency International chapters across the world. Most respondents are part of more regional or international networks. Besides TI those mentioned most are Publish What you Pay and Access Initiative/FOIA, as well as RWI and IBP. As expected many of you know OGP well, and have had extensive (52.7%) or at least moderate exposure (26.4%). You clearly know what you hope OGP will bring: more information available to the general public (72.2%), a leverage of T&A work in your country (70%) and securing a bigger role for civil society (67%). -----The second big chunks of questions was about OGP in your country. What do you think of the consultation, coordination and the actors involved. You are mildly positive about the consultation process. 32.2% rated it as good or excellent, where 28.8% rated it as very weak or non-existing. In the comments you did write about the lack of clarity of the process, the lack of initiative from the government side – in many countries the initiative to join OGP

or to discuss the action plan came from civil society. You mention the short timelines, the slow responses from government, the lack of going beyond the capital or beyond the digital and uncertainty on to what extent your suggestions were picked up. And if it was difficult to involve organized civil society than we can safely say that the public at large has been excluded in most cases. Enough to improve in this area. Reading the comments I must say that the mild positive rating of the consultation surprised me. One of the follow up pieces of research I want to do is exactly around the consultation processes. Next came an open question to ask if the right actors are involved to make OGP a success. Overall you are quite satisfied with your own involvement (-: A rough count showed half of you think the right actors are there, 25% think that is not the case and 25% that that is not yet the case. In any case you are organizing yourself in a whole range of models, from national Steering Committees (Ghana), to broad NGO forums (Azerbaijan), to Open Government Advisory Panel (Canada), to a mix of broad forum with commitment specific teams (US). There are different interests in time, and different interests across organisations. A good reason to every now and then coordinate amongst each other. You mention that specific national mailing lists are used, and meetings take place. You mention that many coalitions are loose, and that more formal coordination among yourselves might be needed. My take is that this is something that is best organized bottom up at country level as you need best when more coordination is helpful – for example when the action plan is up for renewal, when the IRM comes to town or when your country chairs OGP. In any case, I am there to help you think this through and get it in place if needed. In most countries the interaction with government is still fluid. 33.8% indicate there is no structure, 29.2% that there are ad hoc meetings. 21.5% mention a regular forum. In some countries it is the government that initiates the way through established (favourite) networks or by appointing core teams or representatives. This can lead to friction with broader civil society, for example when the ‘chosen few’ are either not fully representing the broadest spectrum or – in isolated cases – feared to be to close to government. Some of the comments raise the issue of coordination with (and sometimes by) the government versus the need to be critical and independent. Balancing both roles – I can tell from experience – is challenging indeed, although with a wide range of actors involved organisations can agree to split roles and tactics. Good cop bad cop if you will. Where you are in general positive about the civil society actors involved, you are less convinced the right government actors are involved to get real change. In this case it is really 50/50. A key issue you mention in the comments is that often only one unit within the government is dealing with OGP (diplomats or people in the office of the president or prime minister). You fear that this will result in a number of difficulties: are the commitments the right ones if only a small part of government co-developed them, is there a sense of ownership for the commitments by the entities that actually need to deliver on them. Furthermore

you mention the difficulty of involving regional and local levels of government and problems with intra-government coordination. A last one worth mentioning is the risk elections pose, especially where OGP is ‘owned’ by a small group at the top rather than by the broader bureaucracy. That risk is already manifesting itself in some cases. As said before, the majority of you feel that OGP adds value or momentum to the goals of greater transparency, participation and accountability in your countries (55.6% positive, 27% neutral, 17.5% negative). It is early days though, and we will need to wait to see the real leverage and partnership across different civil society groupings (open data and access to info policy for example), as well as between government and civil society. Someone mentioned that OGP created a vehicle to also move other initiatives forward. Yet, out of the 50 people that rated their current action plan, only 28.5% are positive (45% neutral, 24.5% negative) and 72% of those think important commitments are missing. The comments mention that action plans are not ambitious enough, not broad enough, not SMART enough. Having read a lot of them I recognize many of the comments. Some countries have dealt with this by improving their action plan in a second round (Mexico, UK soon). For other countries that might be an option too. At a minimum we can say that for the second round of action plans in a year or two we know better what to watch out for! Many of you have already started monitoring the government’s actions; others are preparing to do so – either by yourselves or by participating in the IRM. You talk about developing methodologies and about shadow reports monitoring actual commitments. Someone even mentioned a dream report – monitoring what the commitments should have been. Being civil society organisations this role is the bread and butter of what many of you do – holding the government to account and pressuring them to do more. And you see challenges ahead. Many have been mentioned before: solid monitoring, real political will, true and broad consultation and engagement, elections, embedding OGP across the government, getting more ambitious commitments. And overall, the next 12 months show the challenge and opportunity of delivering upon the promises and making a real difference in the way we work together but especially in the lives of the people in the countries that joined OGP. ----The third set of questions were about the relation between the community and the Steering Committee and the Civil Society Coordinator respectively. A whopping 86.1% of you are willing to support the Steering Committee members in a range of different ways, for example by writing background policy papers on key OGP issues, developing the IRM and indicators, sharing expertise, or providing in-country support to other civil society actors.

On the rotation of these same Steering Committee members you also provide a rich set of ideas. Some of the suggestions: open it up to the widest range of potential candidates, develop clear criteria for selection, try to get a balanced set of skills in each person and a balanced and diverse group as a whole, make sure the people that make it onto the committee understand the concept and principles of OGP fully, make sure there is an even regional representation. These comments will be taken on board for sure. At the moment I am working with a few of you to get a proposal for this on paper. I am also looking at experiences with other international initiatives. The following question asked how the Civil Society Coordinator (CSC) could help the in-country actors and dynamic. The number one answer is by providing knowledge on good practices in other places (64.1%), closely followed by information on OGP itself (62.8%) and knowledge on the domain of open government, transparency and accountability (60.3%). Access to skills (44.8%), people (50%), resources (55.1%) and technical support (53.8%) followed. One suggestion is that the CSC provides suggestions, advice and recommendation on a regular basis – which resonates with my idea of being easily approachable for just that. Interestingly enough you want to share similar things. First of all your knowledge and experience on open government, transparency and accountability (70.5%), followed by strengthening skills of others (53.8%) and letting others know how OGP works (50%). You want to make my job as CSC easier by bringing me advice or being on a working group (79.5%), by collecting stories and experiences (great! 64%) and by hosting interns (37.2%). Suggestions for the CSC include the importance of being multi-lingual, to communicate more, to beef up the diplomatic pressure and to get a team of assistants. I am working on all of them (-: --We are getting closer to the end. The subsequent section dealt with communications. You indicate that most of the information you need for your work you either get via personal contacts (78.7%) or via websites and newsletters/mailinglists (81.3%). Runner-up are social media (76%). In the comments a special mention is made for good old BBC radio – and for meetings. The OGP related info you are at the moment getting from the website (72%), contacts and networks (64%) and the civil society mailing list (57%). Going forward that is also roughly how you see us continue – with the one exception and that is the desire for a special civil society OGP site. Other suggestions were made, and I will take them on board while developing the CSC communication structure. The format of the question on language caused some confusion. Let’s just say that multi-lingualism is important. Although I think it will be challenging for me

to communicate with you in the suggested languages of Bahasa, Swahili or Quechua. You are most keen to get access to information and knowledge through online channels(73.3%). That was to be expected, and saves us all some carbon for physical meetings. Getting that right however is a challenge in itself! Webinars on topics and tactics scores 64%. When asked what you want to learn about you said the following: successful consultations, social media & advocacy, the IRM, other multi-lateral initiatives. About 20 other suggestions were mentioned. The coming months we will try to make a match between the suggestions you made for learning about and the offers you made to teach others. Based on that we will set a timeline for a series of webinars. ---We are almost at the end of the survey. You had some good suggestions for the London meeting in the second half of 2013. For sure you want a more dynamic programme, crowd-sourced and with space for real interaction and less talkshop. You want us to discuss how to make sure countries deliver on the commitments and the principles of OGP, how to set minimum standards. You want to have enough time to prepare, so that we have the most value from the meeting itself (homework upfront). You want space to learn from each other. You want less marketing and more action. And you want to be inspired. If we can get all of that I think we will have a great meeting! There were two more questions (meetings coming up and ‘any other business’), but I’ll leave it here. Looking ahead to London 2013 is a nice way to show what lies ahead of us. The last 12 months we designed this great new tool to make the world a better place. With enthusiasm we embraced the options it offers. The rich answers to the Big Civil Society Survey are a reminder to ourselves, to the members of the Steering Committee – and last but not least the governments of the OGP member countries – that it really is time to deliver. London 2013 will be an excellent moment to check in and see where we are with making OGP into something real.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful