What Can Civil Society Do to Get Involved in OGP?
Original post from the Open Government Partnership.
Civil society has many roles within the Open Government Partnership, both formal and informal. Below is an overview:
OGP Steering Committee
Nine civil society representatives from around the world currently sit on the OGP Steering Committee, which governs the initiative at the international level. These members possess a wide range of thematic and regional expertise, and regularly engage in OGP outreach at the national, regional and international level. You can view the names and organizations of these representatives here: http://www.opengovpartnership.
Civil society are encouraged to contact these steering committee members to share important insights, concerns or plans at the country level—especially those they believe should be raised within the OGP Steering Committee for discussion. Civil society can write to the OGP Support Unit for Steering Committee member contact information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Development of OGP Country Action Plans Civil Society is also a formal part of the OGP process at the local level. The OGP guidelines require all participating governments to consult with civil society and the broader public as they develop their OGP action plans. The OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism will verify this consultation after the first year of implementation.
You can view the OGP guidelines on public consultation here: http://www.opengovpartnership.
OGP strongly encourages civil society to take advantage of these public consultations and play an active and informed role in the commitment development process in their country. As part of this engagement at the country level they can:
- Contact their government to identify the official/agency leading on OGP commitment development and implementation, and seek a meeting with this person to discuss their ideas about open government priorities. OGP is in the process of collecting government contacts for all OGP implementing countries and will post them on the relevant country page here once available:http://www.opengovpartnership.
org/countries. You can find a sample template letter from civil society to government at the bottom of this page, along with two examples of letters from international and local civil society to governments.
- Convene interested civil society organizations at the local level to discuss their policy priorities and objectives within the open government sphere, and strategize how the OGP commitment development process can be a platform to advance those goals
- Organize multi-stakeholder outreach events with government, civil society, the private sector and other key actors to share information on and promote awareness about OGP at the local, national and/or regional level. Here is an example of a briefing and concrete recommendations presented by Twaweza (a civil society organization from East Africa that sits on the OGP Steering Committee) to Tanzania’s Cabinet: http://twaweza.org/uploads/files/OGP_presentation_251011.pdf
Civil society practitioners that are active in the open government sphere and wish to share their expertise and experiences with OGP implementing governments can join the OGP Network by filling out the Networking Mechanism survey here: http://www.opengovpartnership.
You will be contacted by the Networking Mechanism for a follow-up interview to gather more information on your particular expertise and interests. This information will then form part of a larger database of technical experts that the Networking Mechanism will use when referring OGP Participating Governments for advice in particular areas.
Civil Society activists are also encouraged to share their story about what open government means to you in your daily life and work directly with OGP. These submissions will be compiled and displayed on the website to offer visitors a sense of the depth and breadth of what open government means to people around the world. To share your story, go to: http://www.opengovpartnership.
Finally, Civil society activists can also join the international OGP civil society list-serve to share information about what is happening with OGP in your country, and learn about OGP-related events in other countries. To join this list-serve, go to http://groups.google.com/, search for “OGP Civil Society Working Group” and request to join. This is an independent list-serve for the civil society community only.
OGP Implementation For OGP implementing countries, civil society can begin independently monitoring government implementation of OGP commitments and writing reports, blog updates, etc…to track progress and build public awareness. Eight countries—Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the UK and the U.S.—are already beginning to implement their commitments. An additional 38 countries will follow in March 2012.
There is also an Independent Reporting Mechanism within OGP, which will consult civil society (as well as government, private sector and other stakeholders) after the first year of OGP implementation to assess government performance relative to the commitments in its action plan. This is another important opportunity for civil society to provide more formal feedback on their country’s OGP implementation performance after year one.
For countries that are not yet eligible to participate in OGP, civil society can identify the criteria on which their country falls short, and begin discussions with government officials and other civil society organizations about how to promote/support the open government reforms needed to enable participation. The OGP eligibility criteria can be found here: http://www.opengovpartnership.
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