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Connecting the Dots: The Coordination Challenge for OGP in South Africa

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative stands as an important opportunity for the advancement of open government data domestically. Yet, a reflection on existing OGP initiatives seems to indicate that coordinating different government departments and agencies is not necessarily a priority. Coordination is difficult; thus, without focused and specific interventions, it will be challenging to achieve. Coordination needs to be a goal in and of itself.

This lack of coordination between governments and agents is especially concerning in the context of the need to advance open data commitments, which are so greatly enhanced when coordination is prioritised.

Coordination interventions therefore need to be developed, but they must be developed through a considered investigation of endogenous and exogenous factors that might be influential. By considering case studies, this research extrapolates lessons that might inform the promotion of open data commitments made under the OGP process in South Africa (clearly distinguishing between coordination of the OGP process more broadly versus coordination of specific commitments made), and the practical interventions that will achieve this. It is hoped that this demonstration of applied research might inform initiatives to enhance coordination in other national contexts as well. These interventions move beyond institutional solutions– such as the establishment of a Permanent Dialogue Mechanism (PDM) – as they seek to deal with both structural and individual concerns within the country-specific context.

It emerges that the OGP can have a role as an institution, and the domestic implementation of the process also presents a significant opportunity for the advancement of open government data. Considered interventions to drive coordination, however, must be established.

Please note that while some communications and responses from respondents have been cited within this research, this does not mean that those respondents sanction or endorse the research outcomes described.

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