Pre-membership – not-eligible
A country can only join OGP if it passes the eligibility threshold, which means meeting a relatively low minimum level of performance on fiscal transparency, access to information, asset disclosure and citizen engagement. You could see this as an important first step in the process of becoming an open government and society.
The eligibility scores of all countries are available and a good starting point to see if the assessment made by OGP is correct and what additional efforts are needed. In some countries bi- and multi-lateral agencies like UNDP and the World Bank support governments to become eligible for OGP.
Civil society actors can advocate with their governments that membership would be a good way for the country to improve its image, to improve service delivery, to stimulate innovation, to become more efficient or to strengthen the bond between government and citizens. These are a few of the often quoted arguments to join OGP.
Pre-membership – eligible
As a first step to participating in OGP, eligible countries submit a letter of intent that signals their government’s commitment to open government and intent to participate in the Partnership.
For a current list of OGP participating countries click here.
There are a few interesting examples where the interest to join actually did not come from the government. For example, in the Netherlands it was parliament who pushed for OGP membership. In countries like Poland, Bosnia and Uganda there are coalitions actively advocating for membership.
That is also the case in Ireland where the initial push by a group of active citizens led to a broader interest from civil society. They collectively pushed for membership exploring all connections they had –from parliamentarians to popstars; involved diplomats from OGP members countries; organized meetings with parliamentarians and civil servants, providing them with tailor-made convincing arguments for membership benefits; and kept the pressure up by using especially social media.
After a letter is sent and approved a country then has up to a year to consult with civil society on what the national priorities should be and end this period with a concrete action plan that stretches the country beyond current practice. This consultation needs to be more than a one-off meeting – the idea is that the action plan is developed through an interactive multi-stakeholder process, with the active engagement of citizens and civil society.