The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is launching an exciting new pilot program designed to more proactively involve subnational governments in the initiative. OGP is a 69 country partnership aiming to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. OGP is looking for subnational governments with committed political and working level reformers, and engaged and energetic partners in civil society, to take part in a pilot program designed to advance open government reform.
Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana was one of the subnational governments that successfully applied to engage directly with OGP in a pilot 'pioneer' program. Participants will receive dedicated assistance and advice from the OGP Support Unit and OGP Steering Committee to develop and fulfill independent open government commitments in action plans, in partnership with civil society organisations. They will actively contribute to peer learning and networking activities with other subnational governments. The commitments and short action plans developed by the pioneers will be assessed by OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM). The pilot will give OGP the opportunity to test and assess the IRM’s capacity to act as the accountability mechanism for subnational government participation.
The following text is from the Sekondi-Takoradi application letter, available below in images.
SΕΚΟΝDΙ-ΤΑΚΟRΑDΙ ΜΕΤRΟΡLΙΤΑΝ ASSEMBLY
15th February, 2016
THE STEERING COMMITTEE ΟΡΕΝ GΟVΕRΝΑΝCΕ ΡΑRΤΝΕRSΗΙΡ
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,
APPLICATION FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE SUBNATIONAL GOVERNMENT PILOT PROGRAM
Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) is hereby applying to the Steering Committee of the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) to participate in the Pioneers' tier of the subnational government pilot program.
STMA is the administrative and developmental decision-making organ of the twin-city of Sekondi-Takoradi. It has an estimated population of 559,548 with a growth rate of 3.2% (2010 PHC). The city's strategic location as the main hub for Ghana's young oil industry has also resulted in the influx of people and businesses hoping to benefit from the industry. This presents a challenge that requires an improvement in the delivery of municipal services, infrastructure provision and a change of paradigm in governance.
In furtherance of this, the STMA has rolled-out a number of interventions that encompass participatory decision-making, improved service delivery and transparent and accountable governance which coincidentally are the main thrusts of the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) initiative.
On public service delivery and enhancement of citizen participation; the Metropolitan Assembly introduced the Citizens' Score Card and IncluCity Program in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
The Citizens' Report Card (CRC) captured the satisfaction levels on services rendered by public utility service providers and the Metropolitan Assembly for the citizenry. It is a simple but powerful tool to provide public agencies with systematic feedback from users of public services, and enable them to identify strengths and weaknesses in their work. Data for preparing CRCs were collected using interviews with a randomly selected sample of users of public services. The data helped to assess the performance of service providers from the perspective of service users. The CRC gave consumers an opportunity to score the quality and adequacy and also to express their levels of satisfaction with services rendered. The CRC was used to generate recommendations on sector policies, programme strategy and management of service delivery. They also provided feedback to service providers in the Metropolis by identifying good practices and can also facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches. The overarching benefit of the CRS is its ability to point out the inequalities in services provided to both the rich and the poor, and facilitate prioritization of reforms and corrective actions needed to improve quality of services by drawing attention to the main challenges.
IncluCity was an initiative that was geared towards improving governance and services for the urban poor. The programme enhanced the participation of slum dwellers in governance, inclusive planning and budgeting processes, while building the capacity of the Metropolitan Assembly to generate revenue. This programme was rolled-out under the auspices of Global Communities, an international non-governmental organization. Inputs were sought from Metropolitan Assembly officials, representatives and urban service planners, as well as community members. Selected slum residents were trained on inclusive governance and participatory budgeting and planning. With these new skills, residents were able to hold the Metropolitan Assembly accountable for the services they provided. Residents also took part in the formulation of Community Action Plans which fed into the Metropolitan Assembly's medium-term development plan. In this way, the communities' needs and aspirations were identified and priority projects were highlighted and implemented as part of the cities' wider development strategy. As part of the programme 35 communities within the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis were provided with public notice boards to serve as a platform for the dissemination of information.
To further strengthen transparency and accountable governance as a way of combating corruption, a social audit approach was adopted to stimulate civil society engagement with local governments on public finance management issues. Social Public Expenditure & Financial Accountability (SPEFA) was launched in 2013 to bring together representatives of citizen groups in the Metropolis to build their understanding of their local governments public financial management issues as well as to create opportunities for citizens to demand
accountability from their Metropolitan Assembly. It also formed a bedrock for enhancing citizen's perceptions on urban financial management processes through a citizen's engagement platform. To undertake this mandate, the STMA partnered a local civil society organization (CSO), Berea Social Foundation, to organise quarterly SPEFA forums and Town Hall meetings. These engagements with the citizenry offered the opportunity for information exchange and dialogue to improve the quality of governance at the local level, foster citizen empowerment, increase the effectiveness of service delivery and enhance the participation in decision-making by vulnerable and excluded groups.
As a conscious strategy to improve client service and ensure prompt response to the needs of citizens through technology and innovation, the STMA has a Service Charter. The charter is a commitment by the Assembly to provide an unparalleled level of service to the people in the Metropolis. The document serves as a guide to staff and customers on standards of services rendered by the Assembly with the objective to improve transparency and accountability. In pursuance of this, Smart Solutions (Smartsol) was developed in 2013 as a vehicle for city officials to provide equal quality of services to all residents regardless of economic or social status. Smartsol is a web-based complaint platform to facilitate municipal service delivery within the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis. Citizens are offered the platform to channel their concerns on service delivery and receive feedback within the shortest possible time. City officials are now able to effectively track, monitor and address service delivery concerns in real time. There is also a dedicated toll-free hotline, website and suggestion boxes for citizens to register complaints, make enquiries and elicit feedback on service delivery.
Against this background STMA leadership views the Sub-National Government Pilot programme as a unique opportunity for the Assembly to scale-up its good governance activities while learning and sharing ideas with other stakeholders in the area of accountable governance and citizen's empowerment especially women and other vulnerable groups.
HON. CHARLOTTE OTUWA ODUM
(METRO CHIEF EXECUTIVE)