The OGP Summit 2013 kicks of with the Civil Society Day. We asked the civil society community what they think of OGP today. Two key numbers to start with: 64% of the respondents are more positive today than 12 months ago about the potential of OGP to deliver change; 59% says that the process of developing the 1st Action Plan helped increase the trust and cooperation between civil society and government. Those are numbers to be proud of.
The 76 respondents answered the 40-question-survey or were interviewed for the series of 15 country articles. Many of them work on access to information (76%), citizen engagement (67%), open data or broader transparency topics (both 54%), which resonates nicely with the top categories of commitments made by the member countries. And most of them (56%) were extensively exposed to the OGP process.
Let’s look at some other numbers. First, the process of developing Action Plans. 43% of the respondents is positive about the process for developing the Action Plan. In general civil society is pretty content about the quality of their own input (60% good or very good) and they feel the right actors are involved on government (51% yes/largely) and civil society side (58% yes/largely). Does that bring a good and ambitious plan? Not automatically it seems, as only 27% (fully) agreed with the statement that the commitments are smartly defined and 16.6% that the commitments were new and/or ambitious.
Respondents are more positive about the process for developing the Action Plan itself though. 43% says it was a good or even excellent process. Last year 32% said the quality of the consultation process (which is not fully the same) was excellent or good.
At the Brasilia summit one of the main concerns was the lack of basic information and experiences around OGP. Now, 65% feels informed about OGP and well-equipped to use it and participate in it at the national level. 60% referred to OGP experiences in other countries during the AP development process. You mainly use the civil society newsletter and mailing list as sources for information, followed by the OGP website.
If asked why governments consult with them the respondents number one answer is ‘because it is an OGP requirement’. This means that if OGP strengthens the guidelines for dialogue and quality that that could have a positive effect on the whole initiative. The number two answer by the way is to actually listen to various views of stakeholders.
All of that coordination and consultation is still mostly taking place in an ad-hoc way, although we see strong improvement there. 32.1% of the respondents say there is an established regular forum for dialogue with government (up from 21.5%), whereas 44.6% meets ad-hoc (down from 63%). Surprisingly enough civil society itself also only meets ad hoc (50%); 38.5% have an established regular forum. We are not prioritizing or strategizing together around OGP. From my experience I can say that OGP had a better start in those countries where a solid foundation was laid and the dialogue was well organized.
And a final one for now: 65% says that OGP adds value and (a lot of) momentum to the goal of greater transparency, accountability and participation in their countries. Last year 56% answered positively to the same question. Although the percentage is higher, the average level of positivity stayed more or less the same.
If you don’t agree with these numbers and have not filled in the survey yet – please do so, the survey is still open!
Although there are many challenges to conquer I believe the glass is half full. At least. OGP will work on some topics, at some moments, in some countries. It will work when all elements come together: political will, expertise, actors with the right drive and power. We still need to broaden the base of reformers, deepen the quality of the plans and the dialogue and make all connections stronger. We need to strengthen the civil society engagement in OGP if we want to get the change at the scale we want and need.