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Leveraging OGP to strengthen country-level governance dialogue: Case of Honduras

G. Ezequiel Miranda|

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) provides an enhanced framework for dialogue and action in governance and anticorruption (GAC) in Honduras, promotes a country-led agenda, strengthens capacity for constructive engagement, and provides strategic orientation and coherence among various initiatives. It also helps strengthen potential for citizen engagement in our World Bank country portfolio.

Honduras is one of the countries where the World Bank Group (WBG) is most actively supporting the OGP. This is due in part to an enhanced focus on GAC issues within our country portfolio since the late 2000s, and also what OGP has to offer.  

In the wake of the 2009 political crisis, Honduras faced serious governance challenges. The crisis had a polarizing effect on the society, seriously undermining trust in public institutions, limiting space for dialogue, fragmenting efforts for improved transparency and accountability, and constraining the potential for institutional anchoring of important GAC measures.  

Joining the OGP in 2012 was an important opportunity for the Government of Honduras: It offered an enhanced framework for constructive multi-stakeholder dialogue and action in priority GAC issues, promoting a country-led agenda, with improved strategic orientation and results-based evaluation. It also offered engagement on a global scale, with dialogue, knowledge exchange, and a healthy “competition” for innovation and results among OGP countries.  

At the World Bank Group, we have supported Honduras by helping to build knowledge of the OGP among various stakeholders in the country. Recently, the WBG supported a participatory process for creating an OGP-Honduras Technical Committee (comprised of Government, Civil Society and private sector representatives), and drafting the Honduras’ II OGP Action Plan, launched in mid-2014.  

To date, OGP has demonstrated its potential to create new spaces for dialogue among authorities, civil society, private sector and other non-state actors, and has become one of the main national platforms for multi-stakeholder engagement on broad GAC issues in Honduras (see a summary of commitments, at the end of this note).  As the initiative evolves in Honduras, the “seeds” of coalition-building are growing, as reformers come together to reach strategic goals.  

Notable progress has been made in 2014:

  • Government has strengthened its leadership in and ownership of the Open Government agenda, particularly through a new Presidential Office for Transparency, Modernization and State Reform. Through this new Office, more attention will be given to  supporting public institutions in achieving and sustaining open government commitments. 
  • Civil society has deepened its engagement, and is working on expanding involvement among Honduran society. 
  • The private sector has become increasingly involved, exploring ways to foster greater commitment to good governance principles among firms. 
  • The international aid coordination group in Honduras (known locally as the “G-16”) has prioritized OGP as one of its permanent action items for follow-up and engagement in its support for transparency and good governance during 2015.  A clear OGP Action Plan, with local ownership, allows us in the development aid community to better coordinate our efforts to ensure enhanced development impact.

In addition to supporting the OGP process, our country portfolio has included various instruments (i.e. grants, loans) that directly contribute to the goals and commitments set out in the Honduras’ OGP Action Plan and to the “Open” agenda more broadly, including, among others: 

  • Roads Rehabilitation investment project, with enhanced transparency in managing public works contracts, a complaints-handling mechanism, social auditing, and direct support for Honduras’ entry into the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (@CoSTHonduras);
  • Improving Public Sector Performance investment project, focusing on enhancing the Integrated System for Financial Management, the national procurement platform (HonduCompras), and human resources management. 
  • Multi-donor Trust Fund grant for Implementation of EITI in Honduras (Honduras’ first EITI report is scheduled for May 2015);
  • Institutional Development Fund grant for the National Congress, to improve transparency and performance accountability (plus GPF support for initial engagement in the Open Parliaments initiative, linked to the OGP’s Legislative Openness Working Group – including a South-South Experience Exchange between Honduran and Mexican parliamentarians, with support from Spanish Cooperation [AECID]).
  • Support to the Institute for Access to Public Information, for implementation of the Transparency Law, and exchange of experience in archives management.
  • Support to civil society for social auditing, access to information, and participatory budgeting (JSDF grant).
  • Support to local governments in establishing Offices for Transparency and Access to Public Information, in fulfillment of the Transparency Law (also through a JSDF grant).

Going forward, it will be important to sustain the momentum by supporting the achievement of tangible results within the OGP Action Plan — this will include making sure results are translated into benefits perceived and understood among the general public. This will, in turn, deepen the concept of a new, strengthened relationship between Government and citizens. 

For us at the World Bank, as we move forward in designing our new Country Partnership Framework, it will be important to explore how to most appropriately support the OGP process in Honduras within the context of the country’s development results framework, and the World Bank’s overall goals of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity.  A thriving OGP process at the country and local level will certainly be an advantage in implementing the WBG’s recently released Strategic Framework for Mainstreaming Citizen Engagement in World Bank Group Operations, aimed at improving development results in World Bank Group activities. 

Honduras’ OGP Commitments (II OGP Action Plan, launched June 30, 2014)

  1. Improving access to (and quality of) public information for all;
  2. Improving regulations for public records and archives;
  3. Improving ethical conduct among public servants;
  4. Strengthening transparency in the management of the civil service, and taking initial steps towards developing a formal administrative career path;
  5. Fight against corruption and impunity through clearer public policies and inter-institutional coordination;
  6. Citizen empowerment regarding public budgets;
  7. Enhancing accountability in public spending;
  8. Improving planning, efficiency and transparency in public procurement (with an orientation towards Open Contracting principles);
  9. Enhanced accountability mechanisms for municipalities;
  10. Strengthening dissemination of (and engagement in) the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)
  11. Improving transparency in public education, focusing on human resource management (teachers) and enhanced implementation of the regulatory framework in the sector;
  12. Improving infrastructure in public schools;
  13. Enhanced monitoring and transparency in the distribution of medicines and medical supplies;
  14. Strengthening citizen participation in public security sector.

Photo Credit: Nan Palmero

Open Government Partnership