The Open Government Partnership - From 8 to 54 Countries

We are building here mechanisms to strengthen democracy, new ways to engage with civil society and new partnerships to address old challenges of governance.

Jorge Hage is Minister of State, Head of the Comptroller General's Office of Brazil. On behalf of Brazil, he serves as the founding co-chair of the Open Government Partnership.

The Open Government Partnership was officially launched in September 2011 by 8 founding governments – Brazil, Indonesia, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, Mexico and United States – and 9 civil society organizations. Today, as we prepare for the Annual High-Level Meeting of OGP in Brasilia, Brazil, the Open Government Partnership congregates a group of 54 countries and various civil society organizations, as well as interested private sector and international institutions.

It is indeed a remarkable accomplishment in such a short period of time for an international multi-stakeholder initiative.

This April 2012, after only six months of OGP’s official existence, we will have gone from 8 action plans and 46 participating countries to 50 action plans and 54 participating countries.

Nonetheless, as remarkable as these numbers might be, we can only grasp their full meaning when we look at the powerful stories and the political will behind each country and civil society organization’s efforts to participate and lead the open government movement.

For countries, formal participation in the Open Government Partnership, as explained on the OGP website, entails the fulfillment of a number of steps, ranging from meeting a set of minimum eligibility criteria to depositing a country action plan and cooperating with an independent reporting mechanism in generating a report on the implementation of the country’s action plan.

These steps if considered alone, however, do not encompass the true meaning of participation in OGP. It goes beyond fulfilling formal steps.

Participation in OGP means engagement and political will; it means sharing responsibilities with civil society in the elaboration and in the implementation of important public policies and reforms, it means sharing the decision making process from the outset.

As President Dilma Rousseff stated in her remarks at the official launch of OGP last September, open government is not just about allowing individual access to budget execution data; it goes beyond, it is also about ensuring the rendering of accounts by governments, monitoring, oversight and citizens participation, it is about establishing a permanent two-way channel for communication between governments and society.

Being part of the Open Government Partnership entails leadership and collaboration with all interested stakeholders, both in the national and in the international level.

And this is what makes the numbers above so remarkable: all countries and institutions that have engaged in OGP have accepted the challenge and the objective of creating a new way of achieving our goals in preventing and combating corruption, in improving public services, in strengthening integrity in the public and in the private sector, and in creating safer communities.

The Open Government Partnership is not simply a new group of countries sharing information about past actions, nor simply a response to difficult economic times. We are building here mechanisms to strengthen democracy, new ways to engage with civil society and new partnerships to address old challenges of governance.

Authors: Jorge Hage
Filed Under: OGP News