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IRM Results Unpacked: Who’s involved in OGP? Part 1: Branches of Government

Casey A. Barr|

The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) evaluates OGP participating government performance through a national-level research process. IRM researchers in 43 countries have now finished IRM reports so we can begin to learn lessons from across these countries. 

In each participating country, researchers evaluate the development and implementation of OGP Action Plans and ultimately make recommendations for improvement of future OGP Action Plans. Following the development of these reports, the final results are assembled into a comprehensive database

Using this database, we can begin to investigate what is in these reports as a whole and what they mean for OGP. In the run-up to the release of the IRM’s first synthesis and technical paper in New York on the 24th, we will have a brief series looking at what the data does and does not say about OGP participating. (Sign up for the event here.)

This week, we will look at which branches of government are involved in OGP. This question is salient, given the recent promise of the legislative openness working group and the growing involvement of independent agencies and continued participation of justice institutions such as law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies.

OGP and the Executive

The evidence shows that all OGP participating countries focus OGP efforts in the Executive. In all 43 countries, the Executive Branch is directly involved in OGP development and implementation of OGP action plans. However, given that the OGP application process is usually initiated within the Executive, this is not surprising. 

Perhaps more interesting is that five out of 43 countries involved other branches of government, either the Legislature or Judiciary, to participate in the development or implementation of their OGP action plan. Though these cases are the exception, they are thought-provoking as they show where some of the innovation in OGP is taking place.

OGP and the Judiciary

Kenya’s 2012 Action Plan, for example, included a commitment developed and implemented by the Judiciary Branch. Initiated by Kenya’s Ministry of Justice and Chief Justice, it serves a prime example of a commitment developed by the same branch of government ultimately responsible for its implementation. This commitment, entitled “Public Vetting of Judges and Case Allocation System,” had two parts: first, televising the judiciary appointment process on Kenyan national television and, second, developing a randomized case allocation system to reduce corruption in cases.

The IRM Progress Report gave this commitment to have the highest potential impact rating of “Transparency.” Furthermore the IRM found that the commitment was well on its way to completion. 

In another example, Peru’s commitment to “Strengthen the Fiscal and Judicial Subsystem Specialized in Offenses Involving Corruption,” was also showed strong coordination between branches and saw similar results. Peru’s Cabinet Presidency’s Secretariat of Public Management (SGP in Spanish), “is responsible for collecting information on the Judiciary’s implementation strategy.” While “there is no evidence that SGP communicated or monitored this activity,” according to local media outlet Andina, “in 2013, this subsystem imposed 212 sentences on public officials, up from 126 in 2012.” Peru’s IRM Report As the report indicates, this initiative had measureable success in creating a framework for future accountability.

OGP and the Legislature

Croatia was among the countries with involvement of its Parliament in the OGP Action Plan consultation and implementation. 

Croatia’s 2012 Action Plan included two Commitments directly implemented by Croatia’s Parliament. Particularly, Commitment 9.5 seeks to “Include External Members in Parliament Working Bodies,” ranging from “public employees, scientists, experts and other persons.” 

At the start of its participation in OGP, the IRM research reported that the 11 of 30 Croatian Parliament committees had no participation. Over the course of the first year the number of committees open to public participation increased by four. The IRM researcher recommended including external members in all Parliamentary Committees if this commitment is to be considered complete. 

Room for innovation

Cases like Kenya, Peru, Croatia, and Chile show how non-executive bodies can take advantage of OGP as a platform to open their inner workings. Although, under normal circumstances, the Judiciary and Legislature do not enter into international partnerships, these examples provide fertile ground for future discussion and potential innovation. Questions for OGP include:

  • Should more branches of government enter commitments into OGP action plans?
  • Are commitments developed and implemented by the same agency more likely to be completed?
  • What are the possible constraints to multi-lateral agency involvement? Institutional barriers? Lack of awareness? Few examples from other countries?
  • Is there a higher rate of ambition in countries that involve the Legislature or Judiciary?

Have a different take? As always, we encourage our readers to provide feedback and ask questions on our comments section. 

Intro to OGP Institutional Arrangements

The summary of data provided in the supplementary document is synthesized from the OGP Process Database, which uses dummy variables to reflect information drawn from the Country Progress Reports themselves to present these findings in a simple and unbiased format. For a more detailed explanation of the analytical process used to formulate this data, see the Institutional Data Section starting on page 14 of our Commitments Data Guide 2.0.

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