The benefit of a proactive OGP
The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative which aims to secure concrete action plan commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. There are over 50 participating countries, but now that the first round of action plans has come to an end, how can the OGP maintain the momentum to increase the number of participating countries (especially those that are already eligible) whilst at the same time, remain focused on moving current participants forward on their commitments? Resources to expand the OGP with eligible countries will inevitably be stretched as the independent reporting mechanism and new action plans are presented later this year. However, a series of access to information requests by Access Info Europe has found that the OGP could take some simple steps to encourage large and already-eligible countries such as France to join the initiative. The following points were deduced from the series of requests that were made:
- The OGP’s eligibility criteria scoring show that a number of large and influential countries such as France are eligible to join.
- France, for some time, has been looking to join the OGP as it has previously asked for information about the initiative.
- The French government states it has never received a formal invitation to join the OGP from the initiative.
So a large country wants to join the OGP, it is eligible, but it never got invited? One simple way for the OGP to incorporate more countries into the initiative could be to actually inform those countries who meet the minimum criteria that they are eligible to join. Without some form of official invitation, many countries may not know that they already meet the eligibility criteria. Taking a proactive approach in expanding the initiative to a wider and diverse range of eligible countries will help the OGP deal with this issue effectively and therefore enable it to tackle the challenge faced regarding new action plans. Actively inviting new countries may encourage others to work towards becoming eligible in the future. With countries such as France interested in joining, the OGP needs to ensure they encourage and remove barriers to joining the initiative. With the OGP being an initiative wanting to break down barriers to participation and promoting open government, it needs to ensure that it too is open and inviting to those wanting to join and participate in the initiative.