The process outlined below applies to national governments. Governments interested in participating in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) should take the following steps:
1. Achieve Eligibility
The first step towards full OGP participation is meeting the Core Eligibility criteria and successfully passing the OGP Values Check assessment. Core Eligibility measures a government’s performance across four key areas of open government (Fiscal Transparency, Access to Information, Public Officials Asset Disclosure, and Citizen Engagement). The OGP Values Check is an effort to ensure that new countries joining OGP adhere to the democratic governance norms and values set forth in the Open Government Declaration, and only applies to government that are yet to join OGP.
The Core Eligibility and Values Check assessment indicators used by OGP are drawn from various third-party databases and are updated by the Support Unit during the first half of each year, using the most up-to-date information available at the time. Please refer to the Eligibility Criteria page for more details and a breakdown on the specific scoring methodologies used to assess OGP eligibility. Any questions OGP eligibility can be directed to the Support Unit by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Submit a Letter of Intent
If a country meets the Core Eligibility criteria and successfully passes the OGP Values Check, the government should signal its intent to participate in OGP by sending a Letter of Intent, which formally expresses the government’s intention to join OGP and its commitment to respect the open government principles articulated in the Open Government Declaration. Letters of Intent should confirm that the government is eligible to join OGP, specifically endorse the Open Government Declaration, describe past open government reforms, and specify the individual that will be responsible for OGP within the government. An example of a recent letter can be found here (all letters can be found on individual country pages).
Letters of intent should be signed by a Ministerial-level official from any agency within government, as long as that agency has received approval from the Head of State or Government to join OGP. All letter of intent will be published on the OGP website.
3. Identify a Lead Ministry or Agency
A member of the the Support Unit’s Country Support team will connect with your government’s designated representative soon after receiving the Letter of Intent in order to answer any questions and provide an orientation to OGP. The Support Unit will also connect the government representative with relevant technical experts or other resources. The Support Unit recommends the official point of contact be a senior civil servant in a function that typically coordinates across government.
4. Develop an OGP Action Plan
Action Plans are at the core of a country’s participation in OGP. They are the product of a co-creation process in which government and civil society define ambitious commitments to foster transparency, accountability and public participation.
Countries are only considered to be officially participating in OGP once the co-creation process between government and civil society has started to develop an action plan. At the start of this process, governments are strongly encouraged to set up a permanent mechanism to facilitate ongoing consultations with civil society and opportunities for public input. The Support Unit also recommends that government and civil society agree on a timeline for developing the action plan soon after its first meeting, and publish a timeline soon afterwards.
Civil Society Organizations
CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
OGP’s model does not require civil society organizations to join through a formal process as governments do. Instead, organizations or individuals have the opportunity to find their own ways to become active in OGP through the global community, the national dialogue, or both. Civil Society Organizations can engage in the OGP process by becoming members of national OGP fora and/or by, helping to co-create, implement, and monitor action plans. They can also take part in the OGP summits, regional meetings, and other outreach events. Steps for getting involved at the national level are listed below. Individuals or organizations can also sign up for the civil society mailing list here.
Based on experiences thus far, here are some tips on what civil society actors can contribute during each phase of the OGP process:
- Deciding to join: team up with like-minded civil society organisations and citizens to develop support within government to join if your country is already eligible. Open government efforts are seldom new in a country, so identify and reach out to pre-existing networks within or outside government who are already working on transparency, participation and accountability efforts. Map and enlist key stakeholders, such as academics and researchers; reform-minded government officials or agencies (e.g. information commissioner, ombudsman, archivists, supportive parliamentarians, etc.), and influential or well-known citizens to help you advocate joining. Reach out to existing networks in other countries to learn more about the process and pitfalls. Learn about success stories, good practices and value propositions from existing members. Develop a shadow/draft action plan to draw attention to possible reform initiatives in your country and build support.
- Becoming eligible: If your country does not yet meet the eligibility criteria to join OGP, scrutinize these first or contact the organizations doing the assessments to learn best practices for improving eligibility scores. Contact your respective government agencies to learn about their perspective on improving these scores and find out if potential donors may already be working towards helping your country attain better performance in these areas.
- Co-creating an action plan: engage with the relevant OGP unit in your government to help establish an effective action plan development consultation. Mobilise and coordinate civil society partners and collectively participate in the co-creation process by preparing and discussing concrete, prioritized commitments or by commenting on a draft action plan. Identify and work with allies in line ministries, government agencies, parliament or media who may already be working on/promoting related reforms or initiatives. Use “springboard” moments of international spotlight or national attention on particular reforms or hot issues. Use findings and recommendations from existing IRM reports or other relevant international peer review mechanisms (such as GRECO, UN VNRs, etc.)
- Implementation: work with the OGP unit in your government to set up an ongoing mechanism for civil society to support and provide feedback on implementation of OGP commitments. Check in your country’s National Action Plan which line ministries are responsible for concrete commitments and offer your support or ask for information on how to get engaged. Enlist global partner organizations to assist with implementation in-country or share international good practices.
- Independent monitoring: Provide input on the government self-assessment report and the Independent Reporting Mechanism assessment process. Coordinate with civil society partners to provide comments on these reports. Regularly check your country’s OGP webpage for implementation progress monitoring information or set up your own pledge tracker. Encourage the OGP unit within your government to organize information sessions or participate in existing ones.