One of the principles behind the Open Government Partnership, at least as far as we see it, is that government should get better at it each round of action plans. Engagement with civil society should be deeper. Commitments should get stronger. IRM reports should become more glowing.
The same applies to civil society. Each round of action plans we need to be better prepared to engage with government. That means being better organised, having a deeper and more diverse civil society coalition, and being more strategic about what we’re advocating for and how we’re advocating for it. We need to try new things, drop those that don’t work, build on those that do, and share the experience between us.
In that spirit, we want to share an initiative (and experiment) we’re launching in the UK today to crowdsource an Open Government Manifesto. We’ve learnt from the experience of other OGP countries that elections can be a make or break moment for open government reforms. Seven months from now citizens in the UK will elect a new government, and we want to have a set of open government policies ready for that government to adopt, and a stronger civil society network in place to make it happen.
From now until the end of February 2015 we’ll be collecting ideas through www.opengovmanifesto.org.uk for specific commitments to improve transparency, participation and accountability. Bringing contractors under the Freedom of Information Act, supporting and developing the UK's Anti-Corruption Action Plan, and giving the public a say in the future of the UK through a citizen-led Constitutional Convention are a few ideas we’ve already collected. At the same time we’re going to be attending events and hosting workshops around the UK to try to reach far and wide into UK civil society to collect contributions.
So please do check out the site, send it to your UK contacts, and share with us any experiences you’ve had of trying similar things. In return we’ll keep you updated on how it goes, and what we learn from it.