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Open Government Partnership

The Open Government Partnership is the latest in a series of open government initiatives that have come out of Washington DC in recent years:

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.

The US administration is currently running a consultation with stakeholder organizations and the public to get input on a US National Plan, to be presented at the UN in September.

On July 28, IAP2 USA received an invitation to attend one of the stakeholder meetings. From the email:

We would like to invite you (or a designee) along with no more than one additional representative from your organization to a one-hour discussion with White House officials and other stakeholders to hear your thoughts on a proposed US National Plan per the Open Government Partnership (http://www.opengovpartnership.org/). This will be a chance for us to listen and hear your input on a US National Plan to meet the four core open government principles as laid out by the Partnership: transparency, citizen participation, accountability, and technology and innovation.

This meeting was held in Washington, DC on July 29. IAP2 USA was able to send two representatives: Doug Sarno, who attended in person, and our Board member Leanne Nurse, who attended via phone.

IAP2 USA is engaging in the conversation at the national level on improving public participation in the federal decision making process. Some key issues discussed at the meeting were:

  1. agency staff and managers need core competencies in participation,
  2. an understanding of key principles that lead the dissemination of tools, and
  3. development of good metrics to measure success of participation with a focus on the quality and results of that participation.

For a detailed report of the meeting, please check out Alex Howard’s post, which mentions IAP2 USA and the IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation: Notes from the third White House Open Government Partnership consultation

The point, about defining a baseline for public participation, was taken up and emphasized by many of those invited to the July 29 consultation. One of our major tools is the public participation spectrum, said Douglas Sarno of IAP2 USA. No systematic approach to what we’re trying to do or what’s been achieved has been defined by the White House, he said, and no way of qualifying bonafide public participation versus hackneyed participation defined. There are good challenges in finding metrics.

As some may remember, IAP2 was quite involved in the early phases of the Open Government Dialogue back in 2009 (that was before its transition to a federation of national affiliates that saw the launch of IAP2 USA). Representatives of IAP2 attended several meetings, and IAP2 co-authored the Core Principles for Public Engagement. We’re glad to see that IAP2 USA is finally in a position to pick up the baton.

Thanks to Leanne and Doug for making the time on very short notice. We hope to share their notes from the meeting shortly.

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