Sri Lanka commits to addressing a wide range of open government issues, but implementation found lacking
The The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving government transparency, ensuring opportunities for citizen participation in public matters, and strengthen... More publishes mid-term progress report on Sri Lanka’s open government efforts.
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – The annual summit of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) will be held in Tbilisi, Georgia between 17-19 July 2018. The global summit will see heads of state, government reformers, and civil society leaders coming together to discuss and promote achievements and challenges in upholding the principles of open government. For Sri Lanka, a participant in this partnership since 2016, this will be an opportunity to learn from the diverse experiences of partner countries and reflect on its own OGP commitments are promises for reform co-created by governments and civil society and submitted as part of an action plan. Commitments typically include a description of the problem, concrete action... to the open government agenda.
OGP is a multilateral initiative comprised of 96 governments and hundreds of civil society organizations, working together to make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable to citizens. Specifically, all participating governments develop action plans that elaborate concrete commitments towards open government, to be achieved over a two-year period. Sri Lanka developed its first action plan in May 2016, and has been implementing the AP since July 2016, ending the implementation period in July 2018.
Earlier this year, the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) of OGP released Sri Lanka’s mid-term progress report. The report—currently available for public comment—evaluates the development and first year of implementation of Sri Lanka’s action plan, and thus, its commitment to open government. Sri Lanka pledged to introduce the principles of open government in a number of important areas, ranging from health and environment, to corruption and Accountability within the public education system is key to improving outcomes and attainment, and accountability is nearly impossible without transparent policies and opportunities for participation .... Although often conservative in According to OGP’s Articles of Governance, OGP commitments should “stretch government practice beyond its current baseline with respect to key areas of open government.” Ambition captures the po..., the commitments were generally found to be well-designed, specific, and relevant to the values of open government. The commitment to enact and implement Creating and passing legislation is one of the most effective ways of ensuring open government reforms have long-lasting effects on government practices. Technical specifications: Act of creating or r... on the The legal right to request information from the government allows the public to follow government decision-making, participate in ensuring better decisions, and hold the government accountable. Techni..., for instance, stands out as a particularly laudable feature of the first plan.
The report finds that the process of developing the Action plans are at the core of a government’s participation in OGP. They are the product of a co-creation process in which government and civil society jointly develop commitments to open governmen... was inclusive and facilitated iterative dialogue. The general public helped to set the agenda through a series of public consultations across the country, while civil society stakeholders, line ministries, and state agencies collaborated to refine priorities and determine thematic areas of focus. The process of developing the action plan may have been further enhanced, however, through awareness-raising activities and the availability of a timeline and process prior to the consultations.
At the end of the first year, the implementation of commitments in the action plan, on the other hand, was found to be limited. Although the commitment on the right to information had achieved substantial progress, the report confirms that none of the 23 commitments had been fully implemented. This is in spite of government and civil society stakeholders taking a number of positive measures to facilitate implementation. These include the creation of a National The Steering Committee is OGP’s executive decision-making body. Its role is to develop, promote and safeguard OGP’s values, principles and interests; establish OGP’s core ideas, policies, and ru..., the establishment of a Regular dialogue between government and civil society is a core element of OGP participation. It builds trust, promotes joint problem-solving, and empowers civil society to influence the design, imple... at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review progress under each commitment, and various CSO initiatives, such as online tracking of implementation. According to the report, these measures were stymied by inadequate public engagement in the implementation process beyond the participation of a handful of select civil society organizations.
Looking ahead, the report provides a suite of recommendations to help stakeholders better leverage the promise and potential of open government. Key priorities include promoting greater ownership of the OGP initiative; adopting clear measures to facilitate inclusive and meaningful participation in the OGP process, and introducing transformative commitments that foster fiscal According to OGP’s Articles of Governance, transparency occurs when “government-held information (including on activities and decisions) is open, comprehensive, timely, freely available to the pub... More, local accountability, and stricter enforcement of anti-corruption measures. The global summit in Georgia will provide an ideal platform upon which to explore and discuss best practices in this regard.
The mid-term progress report reflects the first year of implementation within the two-year cycle. The IRM’s end-of-term report on Sri Lanka will document subsequent progress on open government under the existing action plan, and is scheduled for publication in October 2018.
 The The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) is OGP’s accountability arm and the main means of tracking progress in participating countries. The IRM provides independent, evidence-based, and objective ... monitors action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Civil society and government leaders use these evaluations to reflect on progress and determine the impact of the commitments.