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OGP Criteria and Standards: What is ahead in 2018

OGP is all about action plans: governments identifying ambition for and making commitments to open government, ideally co-created by a range of stakeholders at home. But for the Partnership to be more than a set of disconnected action plans (including the seventy-plus new ones in the queue this year), it is important to keep an eye on the rules and values of the Partnership, the glue that makes OGP a unique space for leadership in the area of government accountability.

Guarding the OGP rules and values constitutes one of the key governance functions for the OGP Steering Committee’s Criteria and Standards Subcommittee. Ultimately, we all deserve to know that the governments who participate in OGP not only co-create and deliver as promised, but continue to represent the kind of core values we associate with open government that improves the lives of people.  To ensure that OGP practices what it preaches, last year OGP responded to civil society’s repeated concerns on shrinking civic space by strengthening the Response Policy, raising the minimum requirements on co-creation and establishing a Values Check for new members.

Building on these, there are a number of work areas that the Criteria and Standards Subcommittee work plan will focus on in 2018. Several of the items we are trying to get ahead of with proactive change, for example revising some IRM practices and developing a rapid response mechanism for times of crisis. As many in our community know, the IRM was reviewed in 2017 and a refresh has been proposed. The anticipated changes to the IRM will first and foremost preserve its credibility and brand, which are strong, and will focus on how it can adapt to the huge increase in demands on its services in light of the growth of the Partnership. This will likely mean changes in the timing and focus of the IRM reports generated – offering feedback earlier in the Action Plan cycle, with a focus on the most critical aspects of ambition, completion and early results – and a focus on web, not print, publication. In terms of rapid response, the OGP Steering Committee wants to make sure it has adequate procedures in place to respond to crisis situations emerging in the Partnership, to be able to act when time is of the essence.

There are also more routine activities that form the bread and butter of Criteria and Standards Subcommittee work, such as tracking countries who fall short of eligibility or those who fail to comply with OGP processes and values and are placed under review. As a Steering Committee, we are doing our utmost to encourage those who want to remain in OGP to meet the basic criteria, and overcome challenges preventing their active participation in OGP.  Currently Montenegro is the only OGP country under Procedural Review inactivity, after being designated inactive in June 28, 2017 for failure to develop a NAP since 2014. Azerbaijan is the only country with ‘inactive’ status due to a Response Policy case, with a further consideration set for October of this year.

At the same time, Criteria and Standards will oversee the update of the OGP Articles of Governance in 2018 to bring this, the OGP ‘constitution’, in line with the many decisions and changes the Partnership has made in the past few years. While this is largely an issue of tidying up and updating, we will nevertheless bring these changes to the OGP community for public comment ahead of finalizing them later this year.

Please watch this space for an update on Criteria and Standards work in the third quarter of 2018. And if you have questions or concerns about the work set out above, or ideas for further areas we should tackle, please contact us, the Subcommittee co-chairs, the representative of the Government of Italy, Stefano Pizzicannella (s.pizzicannella@governo.it) and Robin Hodess, (robin.hodess@gmail.com), representing civil society.

by Robin Hodess, OGP Civil Society Steering Committee Member and Stefano Pizzicannella, Government of Italy, Co-chairs, Criteria and Standards Subcommittee

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