Third OGP European Outreach Meeting in Rome

About 80 representatives from 16 governments, international organisations and five civil society organisations came together on 10th December, 2012 in Rome to debate at the third European Outreach Meeting of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) dedicated to Transparency, participation and collaboration: the Public Administration is open to dialogue, organised by the Italian Department of Public Administration. Head of the Department of Public Administration, Antonio Naddeo, explained:

The success of OGP in a little over a year should not to be given for granted.

Andrew Stott from the Public Sector Transparency Board of the United Kingdom, said:

We need to make sure that the OGP continues to attract countries to join and ensures the involvement of civil society through more reliable mechanisms. The priority is to move from intentions to actions.

When interviewed on the political and technical problems of releasing data, Stott and Naddeo gave their different perspectives. In the UK the accent is put on the economic benefits linked to open data.

Andrew Stott at Open Government Partnership

Source: Agoradigitale

In Italy making sure that open data policies are agreed on and implemented is particularly problematic because of the complicated political situation, Antonio Naddeo explained (in Italian).

Antonio Naddeo at the Open Government Partnership

Source: Agoradigitale

The first panel of the day, which focused on the theme of transparency, emphasised the need for a transition from a simple e-government with a really open government. This step involves a re-education of civil servants and citizens. For the former, published data cannot remain only one of many obligations to fulfil, but must be viewed as a meaningful action. Obstacles and difficulties in the field of open data were also discussed. A common problem seems to be the quality and comprehensiveness of the data and their significance for the citizen.

The second panel on participation has had a special contribution to Nikhil Dey of MKSS, an Indian CSO for the right to information. A testimony from a country geographically far, but sharing similar problems in many European countries: corruption, lack of information for citizens, poor institutionalisation of dialogue between civil society and the authorities. During the same panel the compass of transparency was also presented: an initiative of the Italian Department of Public Service to allow citizens to compare and evaluate the transparency of local government sites.

The issue of trust in governments has been touched upon in each panel, but particularly in the third panel focused on collaboration. Marco Daglio from the Observatory of Public Sector Innovation of the OECD remembered a 2008 survey in which half of the OECD countries had no confidence in the government. This should be an incentive for governments to make open government an every day reality to restore people's trust.

Finally, the last panel focused on OGP and the way in which the initiative is evolving at national and international level, including the recent development about the Independent Reporting Mechanism.

A lesson that all participants agreed on is that no government in the OGP is perfect. In meetings such as the one organised -- Paul Massen, representative of civil society OGP commented -- we learn from each other, but we also accept that each country reaches good results in its own manner, and this can only be a good thing. Antonio Naddeo concluded the day by saying that:

Comparison between countries is necessary if we are to improve. The Italian Public Administration must demonstrate to its citizens that it can live up to the challenge of OGP with more ambitious Open Government policies, aware that the path of transparency is a difficult but rewarding one.

Did you attend the meeting or would have liked to? Please share your feedback in the comments below or tweet us @opengovpart. Update 12/12/12: Photos of the event are now available on Flickr via OGPItaly

Authors: Blog Editor