Skip Navigation
United States

Support Responsible Investment and Business Practices for Companies (US0104)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United States Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: NA

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Private Sector, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: United States End-of-Term IRM Report 2015-2017, United States Mid-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

In September 2014, President Obama committed to work with the private sector and other stakeholders to develop a National Action Plan to promote and expand responsible business conduct. This effort marks the first time the U.S. Government has undertaken a whole-of-government process to focus, improve, and expand its efforts to promote responsible business conduct. Following robust consultation with stakeholders, the Administration expects to publish a Responsible Business Conduct National Action Plan by the end of 2016

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 52. Support Responsible Investment and Business Practices for Companies

Commitment Text:

Consult with the Public on the Responsible Business Conduct National Action Plan

In September 2014, President Obama committed to work with the private sector and other stakeholders to develop a National Action Plan to promote and expand responsible business conduct. This effort marks the first time the U.S. Government has undertaken a whole-of-government process to focus, improve, and expand its efforts to promote responsible business conduct. Following robust consultation with stakeholders, the Administration expects to publish a Responsible Business Conduct National Action Plan by the end of 2016.

Responsible Institution: Not Specified

Supporting Institution: Not Specified

Start Date: Not Specified  End Date: Not Specified

Editorial Note: Completion at the midterm is not assessed for this commitment because it was submitted to OGP in September 2016 following the close of the midterm reporting period; progress for this commitment is therefore assessed from September 2016 onwards in the sections below.

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed for the White House to work with the private sector and other stakeholders to develop a Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) national action plan (NAP), with the overall goal of promoting responsible business conduct. Per a speech delivered by President Obama announcing the plan’s development on 24 September 2014 at a meeting of the Open Government Partnership, [768] the plan is explicitly focused on promoting “responsible and transparent business conduct overseas.” As noted in an article appearing in Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law on 27 September 2014, “the United States had been under considerable pressure from civil society organizations and others to develop such a plan.” [769] This pressure is reflected in the stakeholder recommendations received from roughly 40 stakeholders, including academic institutions, civil society organizations, and individuals, that were collectively received as part of a public consultation process (see discussion in Completion section below) and posted independently on a plan-related website hosted by the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR). [770]

The magnitude of interest in the proposed plan is reflective of growing interest in RBC more broadly among relevant stakeholders, in turn motivating the government’s development of the plan. As described in a web post by the US State Department, “the Administration has been focused for some time on a host of issues related to corporate conduct abroad…. In the course of this work, we have registered an uptick in interest and engagement on these issues by American businesses, non-governmental organizations, academics, faith groups, the media, and the public at large.” The post goes on to say that “The NAP is also an opportunity for the US government to explain what we expect of ourselves and reflect how US businesses inform our work globally with other governments, international organizations, and various stakeholder groups.” [771] The development of the proposed plan described in the commitment text takes place against this backdrop.

While the commitment has a well-defined deliverable, the scope of the issues to be addressed in the proposed national action plan, as well as the scope and methods of stakeholder consultation that will inform its development, are not described in the commitment. Collectively, these issues result in a coding of medium specificity for the commitment. Without knowing the expected content of the RBC national action plan or the proposed mechanisms for stakeholder consultation, it is not possible to anticipate that the commitment will have a major impact on open government if fully implemented. The commitment is relevant for the OGP value of civic participation given that the plan’s stakeholder consultation process is expected to provide opportunities for interested stakeholders to contribute to the plan’s development.

Status

End of term: Complete

At the end of term, progress on this commitment is complete. On 16 December 2016, the Department of State released the US national action plan on Responsible Business Conduct. [772] The plan is similar in structure and content to the US government’s overall third national action plan (the evaluation of which comprises the focus of this report).

As described in the plan’s introduction, the “NAP is designed to reinforce and strengthen the US government’s role in advancing RBC through effective intra-governmental coordination and policymaking, promoting high standards globally, facilitating current and future RBC efforts through enhanced collaboration, and highlighting and supporting US industry leadership.” The plan defines “responsible business conduct” as “a broad concept based on the idea that business can perform well while doing good and that governments should set and facilitate the conditions for RBC to take place,” with particular emphasis on (1) the “positive contributions that businesses can make to economic, environmental, and social progress” and (2) “avoiding possible adverse impacts of business conduct… [and] addressing them when they occur.” [773]

Structurally, the plan is divided into five main sections that describe the US government’s existing and future commitments to enhance RBC. These sections include: (1) leading by example; (2) collaborating with stakeholders; (3) facilitating RBC by companies; (4) recognizing positive performance; and (5) providing access to remedy. [774] Each section of the NAP contains a general discussion of the US government’s goals with respect to the section’s overall theme, followed by a series of more specific commitments it aims to achieve, comprised of both new and existing commitments. Across the five sections, the plan proposes 27 new commitments, and describes 43 existing commitments. While the plan specifies an implementing department or agency for each commitment, the plan largely does not specify corresponding implementation deadlines, leaving open the question of exactly when the United States intends to meet these commitments.

With respect to civic participation, Annex I of the plan provides a detailed accounting of the plan’s development and strong evidence of civil society involvement. In particular, following President Obama’s announcement that the government would begin working to develop such a plan in late 2014, the White House National Security Council (NSC)—the federal agency leading the plan’s development—convened an interagency group to “map out the development of the NAP.” As described in the Annex, more than a dozen federal agencies participated in the drafting of the plan. On 20 November 2014, the White House announced a series of public events for interested stakeholders to provide input into the plan via a posting on the White House Blog, with events to be hosted by various independent organizations. Four such events took place as follows: an event in New York City on 15 December 2014 co-hosted by New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights and the United States Council for International Business; an event in Berkeley California on 6 February 2015 [775] hosted by the Center for Responsible Business at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business; an event in Norman, Oklahoma on 2 April 2015 hosted by the Oklahoma College of Law [776]; and an event in Washington, DC on 16 April 2016 [777] co-hosted by the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, and the Harrison Institute for Public Law at Georgetown University Law Center. [778] As described in the plan’s Annex, “Each open dialogue featured a wide range of stakeholder groups, and the diverse locations allowed each to focus on certain RBC issues of particular relevance to stakeholders in that location, including but not limited to: the financial sector, the technology sector, extractive industries, the impact of business on indigenous groups, transparency and reporting, and government purchasing practices.” [779]

As part of the blog post, the White House also noted that it would accept written comments on the plan by email, with an initial deadline of 15 January 2015, [780] and with the plan’s Annex further noting that US government officials additionally met with a variety of different stakeholders to solicit inputs into the plan, including non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), academic institutions, foreign government officials, labor unions, business, indigenous peoples, and industry associations. [781] As noted above, the government received inputs from at least 40 stakeholders, including many academic institutions and civil society organizations. [782] With respect to the substantive focus of inputs received, the plan notes that key themes included protecting human rights, human health, and the environment; improving the performance of the US National Contact Point for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines on Multinational Enterprises; [783] leveraging US procurement to promote RBC; and conducting a baselines assessment of RBC-relevant laws in the United States. The IRM researcher was unable to gauge the extent to which the inputs that stakeholders provided on these and other topics were ultimately incorporated into the plan.

Did It Open Government?

Civic Participation: Did Not Change

This commitment did not change the status quo of open government in the United States by the end of the action plan period.

The government afforded interested stakeholders multiple opportunities to provide inputs to the plan’s development over a period of months and via multiple channels, including in-person events and by email. The geographic distribution of the events was noteworthy, covering both coasts as well as the middle of the country. That said, an RBC plan assessment prepared by ICAR—which also co-hosted one of the RBC plan’s public consultation events—notes that “the U.S government did not release any information or summary documents regarding its deliberation over the content of the NAP, making it difficult to discern the extent to which the government took stakeholder recommendations into consideration… While a timeline for initial consultation and terms of reference were provided through the government’s online portal early in the drafting process; beyond that, the US government did not publish a timeline in relation to the rest of the NAP process, such as the drafting, review, or publication dates.” [784] The report also notes that “the US government did not consult around or release a draft NAP, missing a key opportunity to gather stakeholder opinions during a critical phase of the drafting process,” [785] highlighting a lack of transparency on the back-end of the consultation process.

More importantly for the purpose of the evaluation, while the plan itself was published in December 2016, the major components of the government’s engagement with civil society—notably, the four public consultation events and the written comment solicitation period—took place prior to the start of the evaluation period. For this reason, the commitment is not considered to have improved levels of civic participation.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing, the US government had not published its fourth national action plan, so it is unclear if this commitment will be carried forward. While the implementation of the RBC commitments could lead to improvements related to access to information, civic participation, and public accountability, neither the plan itself nor government discussion surrounding the plan provide a clear indication of how progress on the government’s RBC commitments will be monitored, and whether information on that progress will be tracked centrally and made publicly available. Prior to the plan’s publication, the US State Department noted that “We do not view the creation and publishing of a NAP as an end unto itself, but rather part of our ongoing efforts to clarify and address these important issues. As with other US government national action plans, we will treat this as an iterative and evolving process.” [786] Going forward, the government should aim to complete the new commitments described in the plan, establish mechanisms for monitoring progress on the commitments, and continue making progress on existing RBC-related initiatives.

[768] For the text of the speech, see The White House. “Remarks by President Obama at Open Government Partnership Meeting.” 24 September 2014. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/24/remarks-president-obama-open-government-partnership-meeting. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[769] Altschuller, Sara A. “United States to Develop National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct.” 27 September 2014. Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law. https://bit.ly/1ytxfOR . Consulted 2 October 2017.

[770] International Corporate Accountability Roundtable: National Action Plan US “Stakeholder Recommendations.” http://nationalactionplan.us/other-recommendations/. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[771] US Department of State. “USG National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct: Frequently Asked Questions.” Humanrights.gov. 12 February 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20170428124214/https://www.humanrights.gov/dyn/2015/usg-national-action-plan-on-responsible-business-conduct/. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[772] US Department of State. “US National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct.” 16 December 2016. https://www.state.gov/e/eb/eppd/csr/naprbc/index.htm. Consulted 2 October 2017. For the text of the Plan, see US Department of State. “Responsible Business Conduct: First National Action Plan of the United States of America.” 16 December 2016. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/265918.pdf. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[773] Ibid. p.4. As described in a preamble written by former Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the plan’s two main aspirational goals are to promote human rights and fight corruption abroad “by encouraging companies to adopt high standards of responsible business conduct.”[773] At a more micro-level, the plan aims to “enhance coordination within our government, push for higher standards and a more level playing field globally, and strengthen public-private coordination to help US companies attain their responsible conduct goals in a variety of environments around the world.” Ibid. Preamble.

[774] Ibid. p6.

[775] For confirmation of the event’s date (which was not included in the White House’s initial blog post), see Counts, Laura. “White House Enlists Haas on Responsible Global Business.” University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business: Haas News. 20 January 2015. http://newsroom.haas.berkeley.edu/white-house-enlists-haas-responsible-global-business/. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[776] For confirmation of the event’s date (which was not included in the White House’s initial blog post) and a summary of the event, see Oklahoma College of Law. “National Action Plan for Responsible Business Conduct Dialogue at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, Norman, Oklahoma.” 2 April 2015. http://www.law.ou.edu/sites/default/files/content/april_2_nap_summary_final.pdf. Consulted 2 April 2017.

[777] For confirmation of the event’s date and Georgetown University’s participation (which was not included in the White House’s initial blog post), as well as a summary report on the event, see Georgetown University Law Center. “Summary Report: Consultation on the US National Action Plan for Responsible Business Conduct.” 16 April 2015. https://bit.ly/2JzK7vr.  Consulted 2 October 2017.

[778] For the full list of events, see Smart, Christopher. “Announcement of Opportunity to Provide Input into the US National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct.” The Obama White House Blog. 20 November 2014. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2014/11/20/announcement-opportunity-provide-input-us-national-action-plan-responsible-business-. Consulted 1 October 2017.

[779] US Department of State. “Responsible Business Conduct: First National Action Plan of the United States of America.” p.24. 16 December 2016. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/265918.pdf. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[780] For the full list of events, see Smart, Christopher. “Announcement of Opportunity to Provide Input into the US National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct.” The Obama White House Blog. 20 November 2014. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2014/11/20/announcement-opportunity-provide-input-us-national-action-plan-responsible-business-. Consulted 1 October 2017.

[781] US Department of State. “Responsible Business Conduct: First National Action Plan of the United States of America.” p.24. 16 December 2016. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/265918.pdf. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[782] International Corporate Accountability Roundtable: National Action Plan US “Stakeholder Recommendations.” http://nationalactionplan.us/other-recommendations/. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[783] For more information on the Guidelines, see Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. “Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.” http://mneguidelines.oecd.org/guidelines/. Consulted 2 October 2017. Per their website, the Guidelines “are recommendations addressed by governments to multinational enterprises operating in or from adhering countries. They provide non-binding principles and standards for responsible business conduct in a global context consistent with applicable laws and internationally recognised standards.”

[784] International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. March 2017. “Assessment of the United States National Action Plan (NAP) on Responsible Business Conduct.” p.1. https://bit.ly/2KjKLOE. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[785] Ibid. p.2.

[786] US Department of State. “USG National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct: Frequently Asked Questions.” Humanrights.gov. 12 February 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20170428124214/https://www.humanrights.gov/dyn/2015/usg-national-action-plan-on-responsible-business-conduct/. Consulted 2 October 2017.


Commitments

  1. Federal Data Strategy

    US0105, 2019, E-Government

  2. Grants Accountability

    US0106, 2019, E-Government

  3. Public Access to Federally Funded Research

    US0107, 2019, E-Government

  4. Workforce Data Standards

    US0108, 2019, E-Government

  5. Chief Data Officers

    US0109, 2019, Capacity Building

  6. Open Data for Public Health

    US0110, 2019, E-Government

  7. Enterprise Objective

    US0111, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Developing Future Action Plans

    US0112, 2019, Public Participation

  9. Reconstitution of the USA.gov

    US0053, 2015, E-Government

  10. Accessibility of Government Information Online

    US0054, 2015, Marginalized Communities

  11. Access to Educational Resources

    US0055, 2015, Open Data

  12. Public Listing of Every Address in the US

    US0056, 2015, Open Data

  13. Informed Decisions About Higher Education.

    US0057, 2015, Open Data

  14. New Authentication Tools to Protect Individual Privacy and Ensure That Personal Records Go Only to the Intended Recipients.

    US0058, 2015, Public Service Delivery

  15. Transparency of Open311

    US0059, 2015, E-Government

  16. Support Medicine Research Throught Opening up Relevant Data of the Field

    US0060, 2015, Health

  17. Access to Workforce Data

    US0061, 2015, Open Data

  18. Using Evidence and Concrete Data to Improve Public Service Delivery

    US0062, 2015, Capacity Building

  19. Expand Use of the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard

    US0063, 2015,

  20. Consolidation of Import and Export Systems

    US0064, 2015, E-Government

  21. Improving Government Records

    US0065, 2015, Open Data

  22. Starred commitment Ammendments to FOIA

    US0066, 2015, Open Data

  23. Streamline the Declassification Process

    US0067, 2015, Capacity Building

  24. Implement the Controlled Unclassified Information Program

    US0068, 2015, Open Data

  25. Transparency of Privacy Programs and Practices

    US0069, 2015, Capacity Building

  26. Transparency of Federal Use of Investigative Technologies

    US0070, 2015, E-Government

  27. Increase Transparency of the Intelligence Community

    US0071, 2015, Capacity Building

  28. Starred commitment Open Science Through Open Data

    US0072, 2015, Open Data

  29. Open Data Portal

    US0073, 2015, E-Government

  30. Increase Transparency of Trade Policy and Negotiations

    US0074, 2015, E-Government

  31. Develop a Machine Readable Government Organizational Chart

    US0075, 2015, E-Government

  32. Improving Public Participation

    US0076, 2015, Public Participation

  33. Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

    US0077, 2015, Public Participation

  34. Civic Engagement in Decision-Making Processes

    US0078, 2015, Public Participation

  35. Open Mapping

    US0079, 2015, E-Government

  36. Tracking OGP Implementation

    US0080, 2015,

  37. Strengthening Whistleblower Protection

    US0081, 2015, Capacity Building

  38. Transparency of Legal Entities

    US0082, 2015, Beneficial Ownership

  39. Extractive Industries Transparency

    US0083, 2015, Extractive Industries

  40. Spending Transparency

    US0084, 2015, E-Government

  41. Enhance the Use of U.S. Foreign Assistance Information

    US0085, 2015, Aid

  42. Participatory Budgets and Responsive Spending

    US0086, 2015, Participation in Budget Processes

  43. Expand Access to Justice to Promote Federal Programs

    US0087, 2015, E-Government

  44. Starred commitment Build Safer Communities with Police Open Data

    US0088, 2015, E-Government

  45. Open Federal Data to Benefit Local Communities

    US0089, 2015, E-Government

  46. Support the Municipal Data Network

    US0090, 2015, E-Government

  47. Foster Data Ecosystems

    US0091, 2015, Capacity Building

  48. Extend Digital, Data-Driven Government to Federal Government’S Support for Communities

    US0092, 2015, Capacity Building

  49. Promote Implementation of SDGs

    US0093, 2015, Open Data

  50. Starred commitment Promote Open Climate Data

    US0094, 2015, E-Government

  51. Air Quality Data Available

    US0095, 2015, E-Government

  52. Promote Food Security and Data Sharing for Agriculture and Nutrition

    US0096, 2015, Capacity Building

  53. Promote Data Sharing About Global Preparedness for Epidemic Threats

    US0097, 2015, Capacity Building

  54. Promote Global Interconnectivity

    US0098, 2015, Aid

  55. Open Contracting

    US0099, 2015, Capacity Building

  56. Harness the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

    US0100, 2015, Open Data

  57. Open Government to Support Global Sustainable Development

    US0101, 2015, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  58. Open Collaboration Onf the Arctic

    US0102, 2015, Environment and Climate

  59. Support Capacity Building for Extractives Transparency

    US0103, 2015, Capacity Building

  60. Support Responsible Investment and Business Practices for Companies

    US0104, 2015, Private Sector

  61. Improve Public Participation in Government

    US0027, 2013, Capacity Building

  62. Modernize Management of Government Records

    US0028, 2013, Records Management

  63. Modernize the Freedom of Information Act

    US0029, 2013, Capacity Building

  64. Transform the Security Classification System

    US0030, 2013, Records Management

  65. Implement the Controlled Unclassified Information Program

    US0031, 2013, Security

  66. Increase Transparency of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Activities

    US0032, 2013, E-Government

  67. Make Privacy Compliance Information More Accessible

    US0033, 2013, E-Government

  68. Support and Improve Agency Implementation of Open Government Plans

    US0034, 2013,

  69. Strengthen and Expand Whistleblower Protections for Government Personnel

    US0035, 2013, Capacity Building

  70. Increase Transparency of Legal Entities Formed in the United States

    US0036, 2013, Legislation & Regulation

  71. Starred commitment Implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

    US0037, 2013, Environment and Climate

  72. Make Fossil Fuel Subsidies More Transparent

    US0038, 2013, Extractive Industries

  73. Starred commitment Increase Transparency in Spending

    US0039, 2013, Fiscal Transparency

  74. Increase Transparency of Foreign Assistance

    US0040, 2013, Aid

  75. Continue to Improve Performance.Gov

    US0041, 2013, E-Government

  76. Consolidate Import and Export Systems to Curb Corruption

    US0042, 2013, Private Sector

  77. Promote Public Participation in Community Spending Decisions

    US0043, 2013, Infrastructure & Transport

  78. Expand Visa Sanctions to Combat Corruption

    US0044, 2013, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  79. Further Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

    US0045, 2013, Capacity Building

  80. Open Data to the Public

    US0046, 2013, E-Government

  81. Continue to Pilot Expert Networking Platforms

    US0047, 2013, Public Participation

  82. Reform Government Websites

    US0048, 2013, E-Government

  83. Promote Innovation Through Collaboration and Harness the Ingenuity of the American Public

    US0049, 2013, Capacity Building

  84. Promote Open Education to Increase Awareness and Engagement

    US0050, 2013, E-Government

  85. Deliver Government Services More Effectively Through Information Technology

    US0051, 2013, E-Government

  86. Increase Transparency in Spending

    US0052, 2013, E-Government

  87. Reform Records Management

    US0001, 2011, Records Management

  88. Lead a Multi-Agency Effort

    US0002, 2011, Capacity Building

  89. Monitor Agency Implementation of Plans

    US0003, 2011,

  90. Provide Enforcement and Compliance Data Online

    US0004, 2011, Environment and Climate

  91. Advocate for Legislation Requiring Meaningful Disclosure

    US0005, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  92. Apply Lessons from Recovery Act to Increate Spending Transparency

    US0006, 2011, Fiscal Transparency

  93. Government-Wide Reporting Requirements for Foreign Aid

    US0007, 2011, Aid

  94. Use Performanc.Gov to Improve Government Performance and Accountability

    US0008, 2011, Public Service Delivery

  95. Overhaul the Public Participation Interface on Regulations.Gov

    US0009, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  96. Launch Expertnet

    US0010, 2011, E-Government

  97. Launch International Space Apps Competition

    US0011, 2011, E-Government

  98. Launch “We the People”

    US0012, 2011,

  99. Open Source “We the People”

    US0013, 2011,

  100. Develop Best Practices and Metrics for Public Participation

    US0014, 2011, Capacity Building

  101. Professionalize the FOIA Administration

    US0015, 2011, Right to Information

  102. Harness the Power of Technology

    US0016, 2011, Right to Information

  103. Advocate for Legislation on Whistleblower Protection

    US0017, 2011, E-Government

  104. Explore Executive Authority to Protect Whistleblowers

    US0018, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  105. Implement the EITI

    US0019, 2011, Extractive Industries

  106. Partnership to Build on Recent Progress

    US0020, 2011, Extractive Industries

  107. Promote Data.Gov to Spur Innovation Through Open Sourcing

    US0021, 2011, Open Data

  108. Data.Gov: Foster Communities on Data.Gov

    US0022, 2011, Education

  109. Begin Online National Dialogue with the American Public

    US0023, 2011, Public Participation

  110. Update Government-Wide Policies for Websites

    US0024, 2011,

  111. Promote Smart Disclosure to Ensure Timely Release of Information

    US0025, 2011, Capacity Building

  112. Publish Guidelines on Scientific Data

    US0026, 2011, Capacity Building

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!