OGP Support to Countries and Locals

In 2019, 49 OGP countries and locals will be co-creating new action plans, while 50 will be implementing recently developed action plans. As we encourage OGP participants to address key societal challenges through transformative reforms in their action plans, we also realise they need support in raising ambition, broadening ownership and political leadership, and ensuring credible implementation of these reforms.

Just as we have raised the bar for the co-creation process and the ambition of action plans, we’ve also been broadening the support we provide for stakeholders across the partnership. We’ve been working on better defining and developing basic and advanced services that OGP participating countries and locals can access across the OGP cycle. We want to ensure we make high-quality support available to the partnership, whether directly, through institutional partners, or through peer-to-peer support.

Here are some areas of strategic, technical or political support we have been providing or will be selectively piloting in 2019, as resources allow. Please contact your OGP Support Unit representative to explore specific areas of assistance that might be helpful and feasible in your country or local context.

THROUGHOUT THE CYCLE

Providing guidance on meeting OGP requirements and best practices

The Support Unit provides regular guidance to both government and civil society in understanding and implementing the minimum and advanced requirements of the OGP Participation and Co-Creation Standards.

We also provide access to research and evidence on what does and doesn’t work; examples of inspiring reforms being implemented across the partnership; information about good practices in designing consultation and learning activities, and can connect interested stakeholders to the reformers driving those initiatives.

Outreach and awareness raising

We can help raise awareness and enhance engagement with national and local OGP processes. We can  provide general support to our stakeholders in designing engagement strategies, and assist in reaching out to specific actors.

Political engagement

By mobilizing OGP’s Steering Committee, ambassadors, envoys, and other champions we’re able to help build political support for open government reforms. This can include arranging bilateral meetings, leveraging OGP and third-party high-level events, and diplomatic outreach. We can also provide guidance about ensuring continued support for OGP and open government reforms during political transitions.

Based on previous experience, these approaches are most effective when the requests recognize  that participation in OGP is ultimately a domestically-owned and led process.

Independent Reporting Mechanism

In addition to Support Unit services, the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) offers stakeholders an opportunity for dialogue and learning through regular country assessment reports. These reports assess how governments fulfill open government principles and how well they’ve developed and implemented their action plans. They are intended to promote both accountability and continuous improvement.

DURING ACTION PLAN DEVELOPMENT

The development of OGP action plans every two years provides an opportunity to set an ambitious open government agenda. Action plans can translate the political commitment to open government into concrete actions that can be implemented and assessed for progress. Here’s how we can help:

Technical assistance 

With support from relevant partners, experts and practitioners, we can provide assistance in:

  • Designing good co-creation processes and establishing multi-stakeholder forums. For example, we’re working with the Consul team in the Madrid City Council to offer support to countries and locals as they develop their own online OGP repositories and online consultation platforms.
  • Working with partners to help develop fit-for-purpose commitments across a range of specialized thematic areas, including open contracting, beneficial ownership transparency, extractives openness, public services, access to justice, gender, legislative openness, and civic space. For example, in Armenia, Open Ownership and Transparency International provided advice to government and civil society in designing the commitment on beneficial ownership transparency in their fourth national action plan.
  • Sourcing feedback from partners who can review and provide feedback on improving draft commitments and overall action plans.

In-country convening

The OGP Support Unit can work with in-country stakeholders and our network of partners and experts to help design and facilitate a range of in-country engagements during the action plan development phase, including:

  • Workshops on how to design and implement successful consultation processes and establish multi-stakeholder forums. For example, in Costa Rica and Panama, we conducted workshops to help government and civil society assess options for formats and rules for their multi-stakeholder forums.
  • Bringing in new issues and actors. Recently, the OGP Support Unit held a workshop in La Libertad, Peru to expand the OGP process to include actors working on gender and water services.
  • Assistance in drafting commitments. For example, at the 2018 OGP Regional Meeting in South Korea, we conducted workshops on designing good public service commitments, and on open contracting for reformers working in these areas. 
  • Cabinet workshops to broaden ownership for OGP across government. For example, in Liberia, we supported the lead OGP ministry to convene ministers and heads of agencies to develop a shared understanding of and commitment to OGP principles and value propositions. This helped build government support for OGP both at the political and technical levels.
  • Workshops to connect IRM findings to the design of the next action plan. We have worked with governments, civil society, and partners in several countries including Italy, Mongolia, and Ukraine, to leverage the IRM in helping shape consultation processes as well as new reform commitments.

Peer exchange and learning

Often, inspiration and a little bit of peer encouragement can be the most valuable form of support. This can take the form of brokering virtual peer-to-peer discussions; leveraging bilateral visits for open government -related study tours; webinars, and cross-country; sub-regional workshops on OGP process or on reforms in specific thematic areas, or even “standing” sub-regional peer exchange networks. Here are some examples:

  • In 2017,  with the government of the Netherlands, we convened a gathering of government and society representatives from high-income countries, to explore how they could use the OGP platform and related reforms for restoring trust in public institutions.
  • In 2017, the Support Unit organized a regional meeting with Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru led by the IRM to create an opportunity for learning and accountability, through which Colombia was able to develop an action plan with five starred commitments.
  • In 2018, we also supported a bilateral peer exchange between South Africa and Nigeria, where a team of Nigerian government officials and civil society representatives were hosted by their South African counterparts for a study visit on South Africa’s initiatives to promote fiscal transparency.
  • The Nordic+ subregional peer exchange “caucus” is an on- and offline informal network of government points of contact as well as civil society partners that gathers annually to discuss topics and learnings of mutual interest to engender cross-pollination of ideas, potential joint commitment topics, and to improve implementation. 

Micro-grants for strengthening the co-creation process

The OGP Support Unit is able to facilitate small, one-time grants to civil society organizations (ideally working in a formal or informal consortium) or networks in participating countries and locals to strengthen civil society engagement in OGP processes. These grants, typically in the range of USD 5,000 to 8,000 awarded each year, are meant to supplement a country or local’s overall co-creation effort, especially in places where alternative resources are difficult to mobilize.

In the past, such grants have supported activities like hiring part-time coordinators for coalitions, taking consultations beyond national capitals, expanding coalitions to become more inclusive and diverse, supporting awareness-raising and communications activities, and activities to create and strengthen OGP multistakeholder forums.

Allocation of these grants is prioritized where there is a relatively strong likelihood of such one-time support both helping with immediate needs and laying the foundations for stronger co-creation in the future.

DURING ACTION PLAN IMPLEMENTATION

Assessments by the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) show that only about  20% of commitments are completed. Completion levels are even lower - 5% - for those commitments that are assessed as ‘potentially transformative’ – those which could change the status quo and culture of government towards greater openness, responsiveness and more public engagement and scrutiny. The implementation of these commitments is often hindered by a combination of coordination problems, resistance to reforms, lack of funding and technical capacity.

We’re looking to substantially raise these percentages. We are still in relatively early stages of understanding how we can best support implementation, directly or through relevant partners and practitioners, and look forwarding to piloting a few areas of support in 2019 and beyond.

Implementation support can be provided at three levels: (1) the commitment level, (2) through a whole-of-action-plan approach, or (3) providing joint support to multiple countries working on similar themes.

It is important to note that this stream of work will start small at first and scale incrementally to ensure that we are able to integrate what we are learning in the early phases into our future activities, and that support we provide both meets immediate needs and is sustainable.

Technical assistance

With support from relevant practitioners, subject-matter experts or OGP’s thematic partners, the Support Unit can provide or broker assistance on:   

  • Tools and approaches for monitoring, evaluating and reporting on commitments and action plans.
  • Working with partners to provide technical know-how on implementing specific commitments. For example, in Nigeria, the Open Contracting Partnership provided input to the Bureau of Public Procurement and civil society groups in developing their open contracting platform, NOCOPO. In South Cotabato, Philippines, Hivos is supporting the implementation of their open contracting commitment.

In-country convening

We can work with in-country stakeholders and relevant partners and practitioners in helping design and  facilitate:

  • Implementation planning workshops, to develop a shared vision and roadmaps for action; delineate roles and responsibilities; identify risk and risk mitigation options; iterate and adapt strategies
  • Coalition-building workshops to help teams implementing reforms navigate political economy challenges through problem identification; stakeholder and influence mapping, and building trust. This includes workshops for strengthening collaboration between governments and civil society during implementation and monitoring
  • Adaptive learning initiatives and workshops at different stages of the implementation cycle to take stock of and reflect on effectiveness of the implementation measures and revise approaches as necessary on an ongoing basis.

Peer exchange and learning

Similar to the support offered during action plan development, focussing on the implementation experience of countries or locals implementing similar reforms. For example:

  • In September 2017, the OGP Support Unit and the Steering Committee’s Thematic Leadership Subcommittee organized a high-level practical workshop in Bratislava on public beneficial ownership registers that featured the experiences from pioneering countries Slovakia, the UK and Ukraine. The event brought together, for the first time, legislators, implementing agencies, as well as expert users and advocates from across several countries and international partners to exchange good practices and create a network of practitioners around beneficial ownership transparency.
  • In 2018 working together with PAGOF,  we convened a Francophone Africa workshop that brought together both OGP and non-OGP countries to share lessons learned on implementation of reforms focused on fiscal transparency, access to information, citizen participation and the use of technology. In 2018, we also worked with Transparency International to convene a peer exchange between 9 Latin American countries on ideas for addressing issues around money in politics.

Moving forward, in a subset of countries, we want to pilot cross-country adaptive learning initiatives and workshops through the implementation cycle for countries and locals to take stock and incorporate feedback loops for course correction, and learn from each other in doing so.

MOBILIZING FINANCIAL RESOURCES FOR SUPPORT

The OGP Support Unit can commit our own staff time, mobilize resources through our institutional partners, and work with governments and civil society to identify and approach in-country funders to secure resourcing.

Additionally, in 2017, we launched the OGP Multi Donor Trust Fund managed by the World Bank, a mechanism through which 53 OGP countries can access enhanced co-creation and implementation support. As the Trust Fund is anchored in the World Bank, only those OGP participants that are World Bank borrowing countries and that meet the criteria for calls for proposals can access support through this mechanism.

In 2018, the first nine countries and locals received competitively-awarded co-creation grants to enhance their action plan development process. Later that year, we launched a second window to advance cross-country research, learning and thematic priorities, the results of which will be announced in early 2019. For more information on the OGP Trust Fund, calls for proposals, application processes and FAQs please visit: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/ogp-trust-fund

FOR MORE INFORMATION

We’re looking to continue to strengthen the assistance we can offer participating countries and locals. For our most up-to-date menu of services - including new grants and areas of enhanced support - please  contact your OGP Support Unit representative. Details of which will be updated on our website and disseminated through our communications channels.

To explore what types of specific assistance might be useful and possible in your country or local context, given available resources and capacity, please contact your OGP Support Unit representative.