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Results of Early OGP Initiatives

Shreya Basu |

Since the Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched in 2011, 70 countries have committed to nearly 2500 individual open government reforms.

Countries joining OGP in 2011 and 2012 were the first to produce OGP National Action Plans (NAPs). Many of the commitments in these early plans and those that followed have been fully completed or seen substantial progress. OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism has produced reports analyzing the progress of all these early plans, looking at whether the commitments made by governments were relevant to open government principles and transformative in their potential impact, and at their degree of completion at the time of publication of the report.

In 2016, OGP’s fifth year, there is an increasing appetite in the open government community to understand whether OGP is contributing to improved government effectiveness and policy making – leading to a real impact in people’s lives. Transforming the culture of governments and making them open, participatory, responsive and accountable is an ambitious project and it must be recognized that OGP commitments are often steps in a bigger reform agenda. That said, it should now be possible to start looking at the results emerging from some of the early reforms and assessing whether citizens are starting to benefit from them.

With that objective in mind, in early 2016, the OGP Support Unit launched a call for proposals to research the results of OGP commitments, assessing their progress, and how they evolved, and examining the benefits they are bringing to different stakeholder groups. An initial set of completed and potentially transformative reforms from NAPs submitted in 2011 and 2012 was shortlisted for researchers to choose from, but room was also left for examining commitments from subsequent NAPs that have already shown sufficient progress in implementation to enable assessment of outcomes for the intended beneficiaries.

The search for these stories ended with finding seven very different reform initiatives in different regions and covering a broad range of open government topics.

  • In Costa Rica, we learn about how the government is using its participation in OGP to restart a process halted for 23 years to create a consultation mechanism that will allow indigenous groups to participate in all policy making decisions that affect them, and the results of the dialogue leading to an improvement in the delivery of public services.
  • The Chilean story documents how a 10-year campaign to regulate influence peddling was given a boost by an explicit commitment included in the first Chilean action plan to introduce legislation to regulate lobbying – a commitment since fulfilled. The resulting Lobbying Act sheds new light on the relationship between officials and influence groups and is beginning to democratize access to authorities.
  • Italy’s OpenCoesione and its spin-off initiatives show how top-down open data initiatives on public spending can be combined with bottom-up, data-driven monitoring to promote accountability and public participation in the policy-making process, including promoting civic engagement amongst school students.
  • The Tanzanian case study tells the story of how the “How Do I?” – or “Nifanyeje?” – website is making information on basic public services available to citizens and cutting down transaction times and costs, but it also highlights the need to still reach the last mile in a country where Internet penetration remains low.
  • Indonesia’s initiative to create a One Map portal with official base maps for the country, part of a much larger initiative of synchronizing various maps for the country that when completed could help resolve land-related conflicts and address illegal deforestation, shows technical progress and some improvements in inter-agency cooperation.
  • In Macedonia, we learn how opening up data on air quality has acted as an engine for civic activism and about short and medium-term policy options being implemented and explored by the relevant authorities as a result.
  • Finally, the case from Israel shows how collaboration between civil society and champions within the Parliament is helping make data on the state budget accessible to citizens, journalists, and the parliamentarians themselves.

Each story demonstrates measurable progress and the added value of the collaboration between government and civil society that is at the very heart of OGP. The stories also show the immense importance of political will, bureaucratic buy-in, adequate resourcing, and demand-side calls for accountability in ensuring that the reforms take root and continue into the future, so that their impact can be felt by a broader range of citizens. In that sense, the last chapter for each story is still to be written. In a majority of the cases, these commitments’ inclusion in the OGP National Action Plans gave prominence and momentum to the envisioned reforms, helping them along. We hope to be able to continue to track these reforms in the years to come.

Acknowledgements

The OGP Support Unit is grateful to the many people involved in curating these stories.

Congratulations and thanks goes to the authors of the seven case studies who worked over several months to bring these cases to life with all the details and nuances integral to assessing the progress of reforms. Thanks also goes to Suneeta Kaimal from the Natural Resource Governance Institute and OGP Civil Society Steering Committee member and Jose Hernández Bonivento from GIGGAP for helping select the seven case studies featured in this report from over 40 proposals received and providing feedback on drafts. Finally this publication would not have been possible without the contributions of the many stakeholders – from government, from civil society, and from the the broader public – who agreed to be interviewed for this project. Within the Support Unit this project was a cross-team effort and involved the Civil Society Engagement, Learning and Impact, Independent Reporting Mechanism and Communications teams.

 

Filed Under: Impact