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Germany Design Report 2017-2019

Germany’s first action plan focused on improving open data and transparency across fields such as transportation and extractives, as well as expanding civic engagement opportunities. Civil society was actively involved in the co-creation process primarily through the Open Government Network. However, most commitments represented existing initiatives. Moving forward, the Open Government Partnership process in Germany could benefit from high-level political support for its commitments. Future action plans could significantly increase in ambition by including commitments on, for example, transparency of beneficial ownership and public contracting while continuing to improve open data architecture.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2016

Action plan under review: 1

Report type: Design

Number of commitments: 15

Action plan development

Is there a multi-stakeholder forum? No

Level of public influence: Involve

Acted contrary to OGP process: No

Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values: 13 (87%)

Transformative commitments: 1

Action plan implementation

Starred commitments: N/A

Completed commitments: N/A

Commitments with major DIOG:* N/A

Commitments with outstanding DIOG:* N/A

*DIOG: Did It Open Government?

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Germany joined OGP in 2016. This report evaluates the design of Germany’s first action plan.

General overview of action plan

Germany started its first action plan with a strong legislative framework around accountability, anti-corruption, and civic engagement. The country had room for improvement on areas of transparency and open data. The first action plan, therefore, focused on improving open data (geo-spatial, transport, and general administrative context) as well as increasing transparency (extractives, development policy). Other commitments addressed specific social themes centered on integration, family policies, and LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people) issues.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior coordinated the co-creation process for the first action plan, and the Open Government Network (OGN), a coalition of over 100 civil society organizations and individuals, served as primary interlocutor on the civil society side and assumed coordination within its network to contribute to the action plan. Following an open consultation dialogue for stakeholders to submit commitment proposals OGN sent a report to the government with a list of recommendations. The government held cross-ministerial deliberations to determine the feasibility of the commitment proposals. Civil society stakeholders noted having limited time and opportunity to provide feedback on the government’s assessment of the proposals or to comment on the draft action plan.

Several commitments in the first action plan reflected pre-existing government activities that were given additional visibility and an additional monitoring and accountability framework through inclusion in the action plan. Some commitments were also informed by informal exchanges with civil society in the context of individual ministries and their established linkages to civil society groups that predated the OGP process. Civil society groups’ direct involvement in the co-creation process largely came from the data and transparency sectors, which influenced the thematic nature of their proposals to the action plan.

Notable commitments in Germany’s first action plan revolved around expanding open data, particularly around transport (Commitment 7) and building an open data ecosystem (Commitment 3). Other important commitments involved improved transparency in the extractives sector (Commitment 5) and strengthened public participation in environmental policy and urban development (Commitment 8).

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments 

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle
3. Promoting the open data environment

Establish a reliable open data ecosystem by communicating with stakeholders to promote the use and quality of open data.

The government could outline follow-up actions. These would create accountability for the lessons learned and insights gathered for the next action plan and the federal government’s broader activities on open data. Creating follow-up actions would also build confidence in the process. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
5. Financial transparency—implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standard

Increase transparency and accountability in extractive industries and strengthen dialogue with extractive industries stakeholders.

Given the advanced level of disclosure around the extractives sector in Germany, the Ministry of Economic Affairs could consider advising the German EITI secretariat to make its approaches and lessons learned more broadly available to other OGP stakeholders. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
7. Open data for intelligent mobility

Create and promote a culture of transparency and responsiveness, as well as creative solutions, for issues of transport policy.

Moving forward, the government could explore mechanisms and incentives to open and link mobility data across different government levels, from federal to state to local. The government could also consider expanding the types of civil society groups consulted in designing transport policy, such as alternative mobility and environmental groups. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
8. Strengthening citizen participation in environmental policy and urban development

Develop new forms of formal and informal participation in environmental policy.

 

The government could consider expanding this commitment to consider:

·       Including underrepresented groups in participatory initiatives via segmented social media advertising,

·       Exploring how to link informal and formal consultation and participation mechanisms, and

·       Engaging more systematically at the grassroots level to receive more tailored recommendations.

Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.

 Recommendations

The IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan.

Table 3. Five key IRM recommendations

1. Improve co-creation in a holistic way
2. Invest increased resources to support civil society participation in the OGP process
3. Leverage OGP for developing new commitments beyond pre-existing initiatives
4. Use windows of opportunity for ambitious thematic commitments in the next action plan
5. Identify and work with high-level political champions or elder states-persons to raise the profile and visibility of open government inside the government.

 

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