Background

In most countries, parliaments are charged with representing the interests of citizens through legislation and oversight. Greater openness of the legislative process enables citizens to engage more effectively in the policymaking process by providing citizens access to information about the laws under consideration, as well as opportunities to influence legislative deliberations. Taking advantage of advances in information and communications technology, an increasing number of parliaments are adopting new tools to open their legislative data and increase citizen engagement in the legislative process.

While some countries have made OGP action plan commitments to improve public consultation in legislative or regulatory action, legislative engagement has been underemphasized in the action plans of many OGP member countries. The Chilean Congress has included legislative openness commitments as part of the Chilean Action Plan—a first for parliamentary participation in OGP. A growing number of parliamentarians have championed parliamentary openness principles, as evidenced by the Santiago Declaration, developed by a regional grouping of parliamentarians in Latin America.

Many civil society organizations have also increasingly called on parliaments to increase their commitments to open government and open parliament reform. In September 2012, a network of civil society organizations that monitor the work of parliament (parliamentary monitoring organizations or PMOs) launched a Declaration on Parliamentary Openness. This document is presently supported by more than 160 organizations from 82 countries. The National Democratic Institute (NDI), together with the Sunlight Foundation and the Latin American Network on Legislative Transparency (Red Latinoamericana por Transparencia Legislativa), have helped to curate sharing of good practices and case studies within the PMO community on the OpeningParliament.org website. The Declaration has contributed to the ongoing discussion between civil society and parliaments on open parliamentary data and has helped lead to strengthened collaboration between civil society and parliaments in a number of countries.

In its April 2013 meeting, the OGP Steering Committee approved the establishment of working groups in order to: promote peer learning and provide technical support to help OGP governments implement their OGP commitments, and develop more ambitious and innovative action plans. The Legislative Openness Working Group was created with the intention of deepening the exchange of knowledge across governments, parliaments, civil society and international institutions on the opportunities and challenges associated with opening the legislative process.

The Legislative Openness Working Group is jointly coordinated by the Congress of Chile and NDI. For more information on the Group’s leadership, click here.

 

Overall Goals and Objectives

  • Support governments, legislatures and civil society in the process of developing and implementing OGP action plan commitments around legislative openness;
  • Provide a forum for peer-to-peer sharing of best practices, tools, experiences, and innovative information technology on the issue of legislative openness;
  • Deepen parliamentary engagement in OGP and building deeper awareness among parliamentarians of open government issues;
  • Develop tools and resources to be shared within the broader OGP community for addressing issues of legislative openness;
  • Identify particular issues within the field of legislative openness for research and sharing of expertise and standards-building;
  • Strengthen the capacity of legislatures and civil society to collaborate in implementing solutions to enhance legislative openness; and
  • Identify technical assistance and partnership opportunities on legislative openness.

Workstreams

The Legislative Openness Working Group will focus on the following types of activities in 2016:

  1. Peer Exchange and Learning
  2. Resources and Technical Support on Priority Issues
  3. Comparative Data on Parliamentary Openness

For more detailed information on the work of the Group, please view the 2016 workplan.