Seize the Moment: Reviving the U.S. OGP Process with the new Biden Administration
How can the United States restore and improve democracy at home and resume its place as a beacon of democratic values in the world?
President Biden has directly outlined a vision of resumed U.S. global leadership through “leading not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.” This requires significant investments in reform at home — especially for a more transparent, accountable, and participatory government in the face of numerous (social, economic, political, and health) crises. As a step in the right direction, the Biden Administration can resume and significantly improve the domestic Open Government Partnership (OGP) process, alongside civil society advocates as partners outside of government. A revived OGP process could help achieve vital, timely reforms related to democracy, disclosure, data, justice, global commitments and more.
The opportunity to revitalize OGP comes in the immediate shadow of numerous, unprecedented threats to American democracy under four years of the Trump administration, culminating in the attempted overturning of the 2020 election. The past four years saw challenges to governance rules or norms long taken for granted, including basic asset disclosure, overt conflicts of interest, and Justice Department-driven attacks on civil liberties. Unsurprisingly, during much of this time, the U.S. domestic OGP process was largely dormant, particularly over the last two years. This period followed a mixed set of results from OGP action plans under the prior Obama administration which resulted in some notable reforms, but lacked a robust, participatory co-creation process.
To help provide a path forward on revitalizing OGP as a means to more responsive and democratic governance, the author spoke to 50 civil society leaders working on a variety of issues — democracy reform, justice, climate, and anti-corruption — on what it would take to make OGP a vital reform process in the United States.
This report focuses on five recommended principles for an effective process – ownership, participation, ambition, looped feedback, and synchronization. It also offers five promising policy areas, which could become commitments for the next US OGP national action plan.