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How is OGP delivering for (civil) society? A quick look at the latest figures

Peter VargaandPaul Maassen|

OGP was born out of the conviction that listening to civil society is a key ingredient in good governance and effective policy-making. Engaging our very own civil society partners is therefore not only practicing what we preach, but also an excellent way of gauging where we are and how we can improve in serving our key stakeholders.

During 2017 and 2018, the Support Unit ran the third iteration of its now traditional civil society survey. Thanks to an overwhelming response, both the size and diversity of our respondents’ pool has grown significantly.

The latest survey, based on over nine hundred responses, tells us that significant improvements occurred both in terms of the process and content of action planning. It is heartening to see that while democratic values are being eroded in various corners of the world, almost three-quarters of respondents have become more positive about OGP’s potential to deliver change.

This growing optimism probably derives from another welcome development: the rate of action plans matching all civil society asks has more than doubled – while the average number of starred commitments per action plan also has increased by fifty percent.

Still, the rate of those becoming less positive about OGP’s ability to improve our governments has also grown by more than 50%. Moreover, almost twice as many respondents report that none of their priorities are being incorporated into Action Plans. These diverging trends reflect more polarised overall views as OGP gets tried and tested in more and more places.  

One interesting thread that runs across all these results is the positive impact of multistakeholder forums: they clearly indicate better action planning. The rates of those being more positive about OGP, those feeling better equipped to actively participate, and those having their priorities met all increase significantly when controlled for the presence of a multi-stakeholder forum.

No wonder then that more and more participating governments are setting up these forums. Still, over a third of countries and locals are yet to establish a permanent dialogue mechanism – a firm requirement of OGP, failing of which will trigger a procedural review in the future.

So, these are mostly laudable results, yet they also raise important questions:

1. Are we ambitious enough in our asks? 93% of commitments still do not earn stars – the overwhelming majority falling short not due to implementation, rather due to ambition, relevance or specificity.

2. Are we inclusive enough in our conversations? While the number of civil society and government actors involved in OGP steadily increase, we are still not fully representative of women’s, youth or minority issues.


3. And, perhaps most importantly, are we delivering the reforms that are most needed by people? Over the years various thematic areas of collective ambition emerged in OGP, key of which are improving the quality of public services, encouraging public participation, fighting corruption and protecting civic space – also the main themes of our Georgia Summit. Reforms in these areas are most likely to improve the wellbeing of ordinary citizens as well as bolster public trust and democratic values: the key promises of open government. In order to fulfil this mighty potential, we ought to celebrate our diversity but also continue to push governments as well as ourselves become more open, more inclusive and more responsive. So that next time around we can all be proud of even better results and tangible impact on people’s lives.

For more details on how OGP is doing, please check out our latest infographic, a brief video, as well as the detailed results of our “Civil Society Survey 2017-2018”:

Open Government Partnership