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Looking Back, Moving Forward

Democracy Beyond the Ballot Box 2019 Year in Review
Sanjay Pradhan|

As for many organizations, the global impact of COVID-19 has altered the way the Open Government Partnership (OGP) will achieve its mission. To ensure the fundamental values of accountability, transparency, inclusivity, and responsiveness are at the forefront of how governments meet the needs of their citizens, we must restore mutual trust between government and citizenry — underpinned by openness.

OGP 2019 Annual Report As for many organizations, the global impact of COVID-19 has altered the way the Open Government Partnership (OGP) will achieve its mission. To ensure the fundamental values of accountability, transparency,…

Open government values are essential as we move from response through to recovery and tackle new challenges such as ensuring that large-scale procurement of medical supplies or massive stimulus packages and safety net programs achieve their intended goals, while protecting civic space and human rights.

This 2019 Annual Report was drafted in the midst of a pandemic — a reality we cannot ignore. So while we look back on the success of the past year, we also look forward to how we will apply the lessons we have learned, how we will adjust to meet current contexts and how we will continue to drive impact across our initiatives.

Several of our 2019 results prepare us well for these tasks. First, we moved forward on key areas such as beneficial ownership, open budgets, and open contracting and will continue to push to make these areas — which are vital for enhancing transparency and oversight over the recovery efforts — norms in the Partnership. Virtually all OGP national and local members have commitments on fiscal openness and understand the importance of civil society and citizens being able to track how their tax dollars are allocated. Currently, 20 countries have made commitments on beneficial ownership and in 2019 we launched a new coalition to advance this work that is so important to combating corruption. There are almost 230 commitments in OGP on open contracting, meaning we have a wealth of experience and expertise to share with governments as they move quickly to procure supplies and needed services.

Second, in 2019 we launched our first integrated campaign aimed at promoting gender and inclusion across all our work. Through Break the Roles, we asked our members to take concrete actions to increase inclusion in 2019 action plans — I am pleased to say we have surpassed our goal of 30 percent. The work will help inform how governments and civil society can ensure that the most vulnerable and those most dramatically impacted by COVID-19 are engaged in shaping the response and recovery strategy in their communities. And, perhaps most importantly, OGP continues to serve as a valuable and unique platform that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders in a manner that builds trust, promotes accountability, and creates a space for citizens to be vital agents and partners, not just passive beneficiaries of governmental action. The Partnership will also continue critical, proactive work to open civic spaces and to protect the civil society activists, whistleblowers, scientists, and independent media who are vital in speaking truth to power, particularly in a global crisis.

This report explores all of these areas in more depth. We have organized it around three main focus areas.

Country-level: Providing on-the-ground support for our members, partners, and the OGP process, including a new local strategy and the implementation of the Multi-Donor Trust Fund. Thematic-level: Defining best practices, convening thought leaders, and creating partnerships that drive concrete action through our work on priority policy areas. Global-level: Raising awareness of the importance of open government on a global level through our events, storytelling, campaigns, and reporting in order to inspire and link together reformers.

The report also touches on our continued commitment to evaluating, learning, and adapting our approaches. The results of our on-going learning are critical as we all work together to navigate new challenges. We are already applying what we have learned in 2019 and in our previous nine years to the COVID-19 response. This continuing, evolving work can be seen in our Open Response + Open Recovery campaign efforts, which I encourage you all to review and to contribute to moving forward.

In 2020 and beyond, OGP will be leaning more into digital collaboration approaches.  We will, however, also stay true to our core principles and to our mission to help build the trust between governments and their citizens. Openness can bolster society in the wake of the pandemic. It can bind the government and citizenry in a new social compact based on mutual trust that can drive effective and lasting change.

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Democracy Beyond the Ballot Box 2019 Year in Review

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