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Why does OGP work with local governments?

Local governments are closer to the people and their work has a more direct impact on citizen’s everyday lives than national level governments. With increased populations in urban areas come increasing demands for services and the need for more effective and responsive local level governments. But it’s not just city governments that are facing challenges that could benefit from the OGP’s support. States, regions, provinces, and counties deliver crucial services, especially within federalized systems, where much of healthcare and education is administered at the state and local county levels. These governments are often more nimble than national level governments and are in closer proximity to the people they exist to serve. This makes the impact they have through participating in OGP sizeable. They are also sometimes  inadequately resourced and thereby have a greater need for support.

Improved visibility of the types of open government initiatives happening at all levels of government helps OGP to better serve not just local but national level governments as well. Many innovations and open government reforms are happening at the local level and the OGP Local program helps to build partnerships between local governments and CSOs to make their governments more open, accountable and responsive to citizens.

Subnational Pilot Phase and Transition to OGP Local

OGP launched the “Subnational Government Pilot Program” in 2016. This decision recognized that many open government innovations and reforms are happening at the local level where governments can engage more directly with citizens and many crucial public services are delivered. The Pilot program consisted of 15 “pioneer” subnational governments who signed onto the Open Government Subnational Declaration and submitted their first Action Plans (APs) at the Paris Global OGP Summit in December 2016 which were implemented throughout 2017. In addition to the Pioneers’ Tier, the pilot program also included a Leaders’ Tier –a larger network of subnational open government reformers from government and civil society who were already involved in open government and were further encouraged to engage in peer learning and foster closer involvement with national action plans in their respective countries.

Following the strong early results of the pilot period between 2016 and 2017, the OGP Steering Committee approved the expansion of the subnational  pilot program, which going forward will be known as the OGP Local Program, and will continue to prioritize the participation of a diverse range of entities, such as municipalities, local governments, regions, provinces, etc.. The Steering Committee’s resolution on the program’s expansion can be found in the meeting minutes here.

Expansion of the OGP Local Program

The OGP Local program aims to harness the innovation and momentum demonstrated by local governments and civil society partners across the world. OGP is a platform for these governments and civil society to come together to make their governments more open, inclusive and responsive, modeling the values and principles of the Open Government Declaration and processes.

As a first phase of the program’s expansion, the Support Unit launched a call for expressions of interest in early 2018 to bring on board five additional participants to join the original 15 pioneers. This expanded cohort of 20 local governments will receive assistance and guidance from the Support Unit and the Steering Committee as they, with civil society partners, co-create and implement new action plans in 2018-2020. For results of the 2018 expansion process, please see here.

In addition to this expansion, OGP will support the launch of a global Community of Practice on Transparency and Local Open Government within the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) – Global network of local and regional governments and its associations – and led by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP). This Community of Practice will support peer learning, networking, and wider awareness and capacity development on open governance and public integrity at the local level.

New OGP Local Strategy approved in May 2019

In December 2018 the OGP Steering Committee tasked the Support Unit to lead the development of a new strategy that would allow OGP to scale its local engagement in a sustainable manner, while protecting core OGP values and principles.

The development of the new strategy was guided by a Steering Committee Task Force, and informed by extensive interviews with the local community inside and outside OGP. It was approved at the Ministerial Steering Committee Meeting held on 29 May 2019 in Ottawa, Canada. The new strategy and Steering Committee resolution can be read here.

The strategy consists of three pillars for engagement of open local government:

  1. Supporting strategic national-local integration to support effective national government and civil society strategies to foster local open government through national initiatives, including the OGP national action plan processes.
  2. Enhancing the OGP Local program by redesigning the current program to be more flexible, scalable and inclusive
  3. Developing a collaborative platform for learning that provides easy access to knowledge resources, learning opportunities, peer and expert networks to those working on open local government. (Click here to join the OGP Local Slack workplace and here to read the Rules of Engagement.)

The new strategy will be launched in 2020, after a program design phase which will run from now until the end of the year. We are committed to building out this work’s components in a way consistent with the values of open government and complementary to the partnership’s ongoing efforts. We look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible. Read more here.

For additional information regarding the program, please reach out to local@opengovpartnership.org or Patrick Kazyak (patrick.kazyak@opengovpartnership.org), Program Associate for the OGP Local Program.