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SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR                                                                                              ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRTransforming Multilateralism:Innovation on aGlobal StageBY JE R E M Y M . WEI NSTEI N         ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR    rebuild a social compact and give citizens            how it came about, the impact it is ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRinternational institutions                                                                    ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR                                                       Members of Open Government Partnership ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRments that will have a measurable impact on       the founding governments would have only    ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR    Shattering Decades of                                                                     ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRInnovating Modern Democracy,                                                                  ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR     Advocacy from the Inside:                                                                ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR                                                                                              ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR     Tanzania’s Transparency     Agenda     BY ELSI E EYAKUZE                                 ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRPhilanthropy Can Catalyze an                                                                  ...
SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR     India in Open Government                                                                 ...
Innovating Government on a Global Stage - OGP Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) Supplement
Innovating Government on a Global Stage - OGP Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) Supplement
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Innovating Government on a Global Stage - OGP Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) Supplement


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This special supplement includes nine articles produced for the Open Government Partnership. OGP is a new effort to foster greater transparency and accountability, improve governance, and increase civic engagement worldwide.

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Innovating Government on a Global Stage - OGP Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) Supplement

  2. 2. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR This sponsored supplement, “Innovating Government on a Global Stage,” was produced Contents by the Stanford Social Innovation Review for the Open Government Partnership. OGP is a new effort to foster greater transparency and accountability, improve governance, and increase civic engagement worldwide. 13 Transforming Multilateralism: Innovation on a Global Stage By Jeremy M. Weinstein The Open Government Partnership seeks to build more transparent, effective, and accountable governments that empower citizens and respond to their democratic aspirations. 18 Shattering Decades of US Diplomatic Protocol By Maria Otero & Caroline Mauldin The US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs explains why OGP breaks the mold of international engagement—for the State Department, foreign ministries, and civil society organizations. 19 Innovating Modern Democracy, in Brazil and Globally By Jorge Hage Brazil was among the first countries to join OGP. The partnership represents a global challenge for government and civil society stakeholders to advance the concept of 21st-century democracy. 10 Advocacy from the Inside: The Role of Civil Society By Warren Krafchik What does it mean for civil society to have a seat—and an equal voice—at OGP’s table? 1 1 The UK’s Transparency Agenda By Jane Dudman Francis Maude, the UK minister responsible for public transparency, and Simon Burall, a British civil society leader, discuss the potential impacts of OGP in the UK. 12 Tanzania’s Transparency Agenda By Elsie Eyakuze Matthias Chikawe, Justice Minister of Tanzania, and Rakesh Rajani, a Tanzanian civil society leader, discuss the potential impacts of OGP in Tanzania. 13 Philanthropy Can Catalyze an Open Government Movement By Martin Tisné OGP is energizing the global open government discussion, while developing new norms and standards—something donors should support. 14 India in Open Government and Open Government in India By Nikhil Dey & Aruna Roy India’s absence from OGP underscores the larger challenges of harnessing international net- works to support domestic activism. 15 Building a Global Norm on Open Government By Aryeh Neier The establishment of OGP suggests the emergence of a new norm for governance, based on transparency and collaboration.2 Open Government Partnership
  3. 3. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRTransforming Multilateralism:Innovation on aGlobal StageBY JE R E M Y M . WEI NSTEI N head of the President’s Delivery Unit in In- The Open Government Partnership seeks to build donesia, provided a powerful example of more transparent, effective, and accountable harnessing transparency and technology to ensure that funds provided to Indonesia in governments that empower citizens and respond the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami reached those who most desperately needed support. to their democratic aspirations. Every dollar received in aid could be trackedI to the individual recipient, the house that was nside the Dwight D. Eisenhower Execu- rying their experiences of pressing for social built, or the school or health clinic that was re- tive Office Building, across the driveway change into the halls of power. stored—and the fact that people could access from the West Wing, hundreds of White The first few hours of our time were ded- this information on an online dashboard gen- House staffers work endless hours, glued icated to storytelling. The focus was on gov- erated an unparalleled level of citizen over- to their desks inside small cramped of- ernance, an opaque, sometimes fuzzy topic sight and monitoring of the reconstruction.fices, covering everything on the president’s that could be boiled down to something Nikhil Dey, a leader of the right-to-agenda, from housing and education to non- quite simple: how to build more transpar- information movement in India, describedproliferation and terrorism. Amid the daily ent, effective, and accountable governments how even the simplest technologies could beroutine of meetings, memos, and more meet- that empower citizens and are responsive to used to reduce corruption and ensure that so-ings, it can be easy to overlook the significance their aspirations. cial programs benefit intended recipients. Heof the work and to ignore the historical gran- Jorge Hage, the Comptroller General showed pictures of locally produced muralsdeur of the physical surroundings. But there of Brazil, shared the story of Brazil’s fight that record the beneficiaries of governmentare days that stand out from the blur of time against corruption. He told of the trans- programs in each rural community, mak-on the White House staff—when the power of formation of a government bureaucracy ing fully visible, for example, people who hadwhat’s possible at the highest levels of govern- known for patronage, bribe taking, and inef- moved to urban areas but were still receivingment is visible in the kernel of a new idea. ficiency into one that today is widely viewed a guaranteed payment for rural employment. I remember one of those days very clearly: as a model of innovation and reform. New Over several hours, we heard inspiringJanuary 21, 2011. We were gathered in the Sec- laws and bureaucratic institutions have stories from around the globe: initiatives toretary of War Room, seated around an ornate been central to the change, butmahogany table. We had cleared our sched- so have a set of unique Brazilian JEREMY M. WEINSTEIN is associateules for what seemed like an unprecedented innovations: random, public au- professor of political science, senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute forday and a half of time, just to think. And we dits of municipal expenditures; International Studies, and Ford-Dorseywere joined by an amazing cast of characters participatory budgeting that en- Director of the Center for African Studies at Stanford University. Between 2009 andfrom across the developed and developing gages citizens in priority setting; 2011, he served as director for develop-world—government ministers shorn of their and the creative use of technol- ment and democracy on the National Security Council staff at the White House,staffers and talking points, leaders of interna- ogy to promote extraordinary where he was a principal architect of thetional movements with networks spanning levels of openness. Open Government Partnership.the continents, and grassroots activists car- Kuntoro Mangkusubruto, Open Government Partnership 3
  4. 4. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR rebuild a social compact and give citizens how it came about, the impact it is having, and civil society groups, the private sector, philan- a stake in government in the Philippines; the challenges it faces—and speaks to the pos- thropy, international organizations—around steps to end a culture of secrecy in Mexico; sibility of social innovation in the multilateral specific initiatives that may or may not lead to policies to prevent corruption in the natu- space, as policy entrepreneurs actively seek the establishment of formal organizations. ral resources sector in Norway; efforts to in- to redefine and transform how governments A focused, achievable goal is at the cen- stitutionalize public participation in post- and citizens relate to one another across bor- ter of mixed coalitions, and the ambition apartheid South Africa; and reforms to open ders. Multilateralism is not an arena that has is to identify governments, organizations, up government in the United States and been known for experimentation, given the and groups that are willing to take actions United Kingdom. All contribute to reach- cautious nature of governments. But this new that, collectively, will demonstrate success ing the goal of harnessing the ingenuity and form of partnership demonstrates the kind and make the case for broader international expertise that exists outside of the govern- of transformative multilateral engagement engagement. This form of international co- ment to solve shared problems. that is possible, at the same time exposing the operation prioritizes flexibility and agility, In many ways, this was an atypical White challenges of making multi-stakeholder ini- dispensing with universal, binding commit- House meeting: high-level government offi- tiatives work in practice. ments in favor of voluntary pledges that en- cials were swapping stories with civil society able participants to lead by example. Recent activists at the same table; officials from de- Changing Models of examples of initiatives that fit this model in- veloped countries were furiously taking notes Multilateral Engagement clude the Global Fund Against AIDS, Tuber- on the innovations deployed in emerging For many people, international institutions, culosis, and Malaria and the International economies and vice versa; and officials and such as the World Bank, IMF, United Nations, Campaign to End Landmines. activists whose focus is primarily domestic and European Union, are the paradigmatic Traditional approaches to international were talking about their reforms on an inter- examples of international cooperation. De- cooperation have delivered important suc- national stage, not through diplomatic chan- signed to facilitate cooperation among states cesses, especially in the period since the end nels but gathered as a community of practi- on issues that transcend national boundaries, of World War II. The standards and rules con- tioners doing the real work on the ground. We found ourselves together in Wash- ington, D.C., because President Barack We felt a need to reclaim the language of democracy Obama had issued a simple challenge when promotion—to put the focus on people’s aspiration he addressed heads of state at the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2010. The to have a say in how they are governed, and on the president said, “And when we gather back challenge of political leaders’ response to that desire. here next year, we should bring specific com- mitments to promote transparency, energize civic engagement, fight corruption, and lever- these institutions establish rules and actions tained in the General Agreement on Trade age new technologies so that we strengthen that are considered binding on participating and Tariffs (GATT) and its successor organi- the foundation of freedom in our own coun- governments. The legitimacy and authority zation, the World Trade Organization (WTO), tries, while living up to ideals that can light the of these international institutions often stem, have contributed to significant growth in world.” After sharing stories, our task was to at least in part, from their broad or near-uni- international trade. A set of interlocking in- figure out how, collectively, we could respond versal membership. Yet to secure agreement ternational treaties and monitoring bodies, to the president’s call to action. among a diverse set of countries, significant including the International Atomic Energy Fast forward 18 months: the Open Gov- compromise is typically required. As a result, Agency (IAEA), have enabled progress on ernment Partnership (OGP) is a robust and the laws or rules promoted by these organi- nonproliferation in nuclear, chemical, and growing global effort to make governments zations often reflect the preferences of the biological weapons. Important treaties and better. Launched by eight governments and least cooperative country—a “lowest com- international organizations have emerged to nine civil society organizations in Septem- mon denominator” outcome—potentially manage climate change, promote global de- ber 2011, OGP intends to secure concrete blunting their impact. In addition, as a model velopment, ensure global financial stability, commitments from governments to pro- of multilateral engagement, international and advance basic human rights norms. mote transparency, empower citizens, fight institutions are often seen as opaque, highly But the international environment is corruption, and harness new technologies bureaucratic, and resistant to change. This is changing in consequential ways, and with to strengthen governance. The founding not surprising, given how challenging it is to it, the form that international coopera- governments announced national action establish these institutions in the first place. tion is taking. Most international institu- plans at the launch, and 38 new participat- Contrast this approach with a totally dif- tions were constructed in a period in which ing countries presented their commitments ferent paradigm, what William Savedoff of Western countries had nearly unrivaled in Brasilia in 2012. Political leaders repre- the Center for Global Development has called power. They used their influence to se- senting 2 billion people have made more “the mixed coalition” and what Philanthro- cure near-universal participation and to than 300 commitments to reform and have capitalism authors Matthew Bishop and Mi- incentivize compliance. But with the Unit- pledged to be held accountable for their chael Green have termed “the posse.” This ed States now, in the words of New York progress by an independent body. approach involves gathering together a wide University politics professor Bruce Jones, This supplement tells the story of OGP— variety of interested parties—governments, “the world’s largest minority shareholder,”4 Open Government Partnership
  5. 5. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRinternational institutions ing countries, are makingare struggling to manage the case for even deepera far greater diversity of and more fundamentalpreferences among their changes to the ways inmembers. Emerging pow- which government oper-ers, including Brazil, In- ates. Developed countriesdia, and China, are making have much to learn fromtheir views known and developing countries, andseeking influence consis- the most powerful advo-tent with their growing cates for change are thoseeconomic clout. The chal- working these issues everylenge of seeking unanimity day. These realities calledor consensus on interna- for a fundamentally differ-tional issues is becoming ent approach to promot-all too apparent, as evi- ing democracy and gover-denced by the difficulty of nance in the 21st century.advancing climate change Many around the tablenegotiations. And the dif- welcomed the opportu-ficulties of securing com- nity to rethink the multi-pliance with international lateral approach to pro-treaties and agreements moting more effective andare hard to ignore in the face of growing terrorism. The question before us was sim- accountable governance. In the aftermathtrade disputes and other actions by national ple: Could we fashion a fresh, dynamic, and of the US-led invasion of Iraq and the hu-governments that flout international rules impact-oriented approach to strengthening man rights abuses committed in the war onand laws on proliferation and human rights. governance that would capture the atten- terrorism, there had been an international Of course, the old paradigm of interna- tion and commitment of governments, civil backlash against the very idea of democracytional cooperation is not dead—it is being society, the private sector, and philanthropy promotion, not only in the United States butmodernized. The emergence of the G-20 around the world? also among international democracy sup-is recognition that global cooperation on porters who did not want to be associatedeconomic issues cannot happen without Transforming the Promotion with a tarnished agenda. The prospects forthe major emerging economies at the table. of Democracy and Governance further democratic progress were also grim:Commitments to shift the voting shares of Around the table, our conversation shifted analysts were speaking of a “democratic re-countries at the World Bank and IMF and quickly from stories of domestic progress to cession,” with new democracies struggling topressure to reform the UN Security Council the possibilities of working together to ad- perform and authoritarian regimes promot-provide further evidence that a redistribution vance a common agenda. Because we began ing themselves as alternative, non-demo-of influence and power is under way. with concrete experiences of reform from cratic models of development. At the same time, new forms of coop- around the world, a number of conclusions Together, we saw a different way forward,eration—mixed coalitions or posses—are were already clear. a way of breaking the mold and diversifyingincreasingly important. Tackling issues that First, in the realm of governance, old di- the coalition working to advance this agen-are not being adequately addressed by exist- visions between East and West or North and da. We felt a need to reclaim the language ofing institutions, mixed coalitions are playing South were no longer relevant. Political lead- democracy promotion—to put the focus onby a new set of rules. Their membership is ers around the world confront a similar set of people’s universal aspiration to have a say innot universal, but instead focuses on gov- challenges: how to be responsive to citizens how they are governed, and on the commonernments that need to be at the table to get whose expectations have been transformed challenges of political leaders in respondingsomething started. They are often able to set by the real-time, on-demand revolution in to that desire. The emerging concept of “openhigher standards because they are not uni- information technology; how to open up the government” was loose and flexible, not at-versal. They rely on voluntary and collabora- workings of government to strengthen ac- tached to any particular ideology. It allowedtive means of generating action, prioritizing countability, but also to harness the expertise everyone to bring his own agenda to a com-meaningful actions over binding commit- of people on the outside; and how to build (or mon goal. It was essential to place innovationments that are routinely ignored. And they rebuild) the sense among citizens that gov- at the front and center of any new effort, mov-incorporate the expertise and active partici- ernment exists to represent their interests ing away from a framework in which develop-pation of nongovernmental players. and meet their needs. ing countries were under pressure to adopt As we gathered in Washington in Janu- At the same time, one could not escape the “best” practices of the West, toward one inary 2011, we knew of examples where these the conclusion that the locus of innovation which domestic reformers and activists weremixed coalitions were forming to promote had shifted: reformers in new and emerging empowered to share their stories, and coun-cooperation in a wide variety of issue areas, democracies are at the forefront of efforts to tries were encouraged to learn from one an-from climate change to nonproliferation reimagine how government engages citizens, other and take further actions in a meaningfuland from global development to counter- and grassroots groups, especially in develop- race to the top. Last, it was crucial that we find Open Government Partnership 5
  6. 6. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR Members of Open Government Partnership Since OGP launched in September 2011 with eight founding governments—Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom—it has been joined by 50 additional governments. ways to harness and support the momentum participating countries were truly committed shape, and we forged a hard-fought consensus for democratic change and improved gover- to making demonstrable progress. Second, on the outlines of a truly novel multilateral ini- nance within countries. Sustainable progress would participating countries be expected to tiative. Together, we would create the Open was possible, in our view, only if governments commit to an identical set of reforms, or would Government Partnership as a forum in which were making commitments at the highest the initiative provide space for countries to governments, working with their civil society level and being held accountable by their own make political commitments that reflected partners, could make far-reaching political citizens, rather than by organizations, gov- their own unique circumstances? commitments to promote transparency, en- ernments, or groups on the outside. Participants recognized the value of ergize citizen participation, increase public uniform commitments, as then we would be integrity, and harness new technologies. Pivotal Decisions able to identify high priority issues and set To become a participating country, gov- We had agreement on the need for a new ap- high standards for participating countries. ernments would need to meet a set of mini- proach, but the real challenge lay in working On the other hand, the stories that we shared mum criteria, evaluated by objective third- out the details. With a diverse group around suggested the value of encouraging countries party organizations—demonstrating their the table—government and civil society, to develop reform strategies consistent with basic commitment to open government and North and South—the debates were conten- the aspirations of their citizens and the pri- a record of practice consistent with their tious, but the ambition to achieve substan- orities of their governments. And how would rhetoric. They would embrace collectively tive consensus around a new model was we ensure that countries actually followed a high-level declaration of principles and shared by all. through on their commitments? No one deliver an individualized country action Three central issues had to be resolved. was proposing the establishment of a legally plan, developed with broad public consulta- Would this initiative seek universal partici- binding treaty, because such treaties already tion and feedback, outlining how they plan pation, or would it be selective in determin- exist—for example, the UN Convention to put the principles into practice. And gov- ing which countries could participate? There Against Corruption—and we shared a sense ernments would agree to have their prog- were strong advocates for a universal initia- that treaties alone are insufficient to gener- ress monitored by an independent body, tive, given the scope of the governance chal- ate compliance. Others proposed the notion which would report publicly and annually. lenges globally and the need to establish inter- of independent and objective evaluations of Our approach was designed to avoid the fate national legitimacy. On the other hand, civil country progress, challenging the standard of other governance initiatives that had set society groups and governments spoke force- international practice in which governments lofty goals yet failed to deliver meaningful fully of the need for credibility. An initiative provide self-assessments of their progress. change. In OGP, governments are expected on governance could be credible only if the Over the course of two days, the idea took to make new and concrete political commit-6 Open Government Partnership
  7. 7. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRments that will have a measurable impact on the founding governments would have only attention of domestic champions for reform,people in real time. half that time. In the United States, we initi- and to give them the high-level political back- The outcome did not meet everyone’s ated a White House-led interagency process ing they need to get their work done; and theneeds and desires, and the concept had to be to develop and refine a set of crosscutting prospect that a voluntary, collaborative ini-sold to political leaders, foreign ministries, initiatives that would build on and extend tiative can generate a meaningful race to thecivil society networks, and grassroots activ- the reach of President Obama’s Open Gov- top on an issue as contentious, but as impor-ists. But it was a new model: in the words of ernment Initiative. As with officials of other tant, as the quality of governance.Susan Crawford, professor at Yeshiva Uni- founding governments, President Obama, We also have reason to believe, even atversity’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of too, would make a set of new political com- this early stage, that OGP commitments willLaw, “a forum not a court; a nudging engine, mitments to the American people—under- have a powerful impact. President Obamanot a ranking system; a mash-up of personal scoring the point that improving gover- committed the United States to implement ainitiative and entrepreneurship with the nance is a priority for countries no matter significant set of reforms to the managementstately dance of foreign relations.” And the how wealthy or developed. of domestic extractive industries throughidea reflected the kind of creativity that is At last it was time to unveil the partner- the Department of the Interior, pledgingpossible when officials and activists come ship and secure the agreement of other eligi- to participate in the Extractive Industriestogether, free of the need to get clearances ble countries to announce their participation Transparency Initiative. The United Statesand manage constituencies, to think collec- at the formal launch in September. US Secre- is the first developed country to embracetively about a new way of working together, tary of State Hillary Clinton, joined by Foreign these standards, which have been promoted The timeline between idea and imple- Minister Antonio Patriota of Brazil, invited for developing countries for nearly a decade.mentation was exceptionally short. We had representatives of the eligible governments to President Rousseff of Brazil secured the pas-eight months before the United Nations Washington for a jam-packed, day-long event sage of a Freedom of Information law that hasGeneral Assembly was to meet again in Sep- in July to introduce the partnership, begin languished in the Brazilian Congress for years,tember, and we would need to deliver on substantive conversations on important the- finally overcoming the resistance of officialsPresident Obama’s challenge. The first step matic areas such as service delivery and public of prior governments who feared the con-was determining the set of countries that integrity, and showcase amazing innovations sequences of shedding light on the internalwould be eligible to participate—a process from civil society and the tech sector. workings of government. And President Be-that raised enormous diplomatic sensitivi- For government representatives, the nigno Aquino III of the Philippines embracedties for each of the founding governments. event transgressed all sorts of norms. We a set of ambitious reforms throughout his gov-We ultimately selected a set of valid, widely reached out to important domestic officials, ernment, designed to increase transparency,used third-party indicators—capturing, for rather than to foreign ministries, because our enshrine public participation in budgeting,each country, its degree of fiscal transpar- goal was to have people in the room who are and root out corruption in procurement.ency, access to information, public financial responsible for making their governments At the same time, OGP—as a new modeldisclosures, and citizen engagement—and work better at home. Foreign dignitaries of international cooperation—raises a num-secured agreement among the founders on a were seated next to civil society activists and ber of challenging questions, many of whichset of criteria for participation. Seventy-nine next to technologists. No flags demarcated the contributors to this supplement consid-countries cleared the minimum hurdle for who would sit where, and no hierarchy de- er: How do governments benefit from theireligibility, decreasing the chances that the termined who would get the floor when. As participation in OGP, and what will keepinitiative would attract governments that you might imagine, this was a bit of a shock them engaged over time? How can civil so-were interested only in getting credit for open for some of the participants, but it was a true ciety balance its role as a critical ally, wheregovernment without taking any action. Our test case of what it would be like to do busi- it must play the roles of both advocate anddecision signaled our commitment to focus ness differently on the international stage. monitor? Where does philanthropy fit inattention on a set of governments that were this new framework of international coop-really committed to doing things differently. Delivering Results eration? And how can we bridge the gap be-We were prepared to accept that the initia- We now have a mixed coalition—a posse if tween countries that embrace participationtive might not affect the behavior of the most you will—that has mobilized the attention of in these new, mixed coalitions, and thoseclosed governments in the world, as long as governments, civil society groups, the private that remain on the outside?OGP provided a platform for countries with sector, and philanthropy on the challenge of This is a make-or-break year for thethe political will to take ambitious new steps. promoting open government. An initiative Open Government Partnership, as this new Second, the founding governments that was launched with eight governments model of international cooperation can noneeded to demonstrate the seriousness of and nine civil society groups now includes 58 longer be judged simply by its success in mo-their own commitments to OGP by prepar- governments and a network of hundreds of bilizing participation and focusing attentioning far-reaching action plans that could be grassroots activists around the world. This on the challenges of governance. The ambi-announced at the launch. We understood new model is demonstrating the power of a tion of this new approach is impressive—that the initial commitments by the found- new multi-stakeholder approach: the ability bringing about a transformative change ining governments would set the standard to move quickly and focus attention on a con- how governments relate to their citizens—that all other countries would follow. But in- crete goal; the possibility of building a diverse but the measure of its achievement will bestead of the yearlong process envisioned for coalition that cuts across traditional divides; quite simple: how many citizens experiencedeveloping commitments in OGP countries, the opportunity to harness the energies and concrete improvements in their lives. ● Open Government Partnership 7
  8. 8. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR Shattering Decades of MARIA OTERO is US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Diplomatic Protocol Rights, which serves US and global security by assisting countries to build more democratic, secure, stable, and just societies. BY M A RI A OTERO & CARO LINE M AU L DIN O n September 20, 2011, 46 world century statecraft, OGP has broken the mold CAROLINE MAULDIN leaders, including US President of international engagement primarily in is a fellow at the Truman National Security Project Barack Obama and Brazilian Pres- two ways: first, by creating a global platform and a former special ident Dilma Rousseff, lined up for for interaction among domestic reformers; assistant to the Under Secretary for Civilian a “family photo.” Diplomats are ac- and second, by establishing an unprecedent- Security, Democracy & customed to such things—an awkward three- ed principle of parity between government Human Rights in the US Department of State. minute shuffle when the world’s most power- and civil society in the management and di- ful stand shoulder-to-shoulder and smile for rection of a major policy agenda. the camera. But this photo op was different: Everyone involved understood that to the development, implementation, and Standing together with leaders of nations for OGP to succeed, it needed to go beyond monitoring of country commitments, civil were leaders from civil society organizations the US State Department and foreign min- society sits side-by-side with governments from around the world. istries, to the agencies and reformers im- at every stage of the initiative. This shift is a The moment’s symbolism was not lost mersed in the sticky challenges of battling break with the past—in which accountability on those who had spent the previous 12 domestic corruption, enhancing transpar- advocates had a critical, even antagonistic, months working toward the launch of the ency, and supporting citizen participation. relationship with governments. OGP affirms Open Government Partnership (OGP), an In early 2011, we at the State Department through its structure and its work that sus- initiative that has shattered decades of prec- had a skeleton list of our own reformers, but tainable progress on critical issues can be edent in diplomatic protocol. not every government was able to identify made only by working pragmatically across When the idea of OGP first made its a roster as quickly. Many reformers are ca- sectors. Of course, we cannot expect this shift to happen overnight, nor will it succeed in OGP has broken the mold of international every country. Even at the level of OGP’s engagement by creating a global platform for 18-member steering committee—where you will find OGP’s most committed cham- domestic reformers and by establishing parity pions—challenges persist. Governments between government and civil society. and civil society organizations operate within distinct cultural norms. Bureaucrats rotate to other jobs, making it difficult to re- way through the corridors of the US State reer public servants buried deep in bureau- tain institutional memory and enthusiasm. Department in the early days of 2011, cracy. And their location varies greatly from Meanwhile, civil society representatives many were skeptical. Multilateral initia- one country to the next. In Brazil, Minister are more consistent and often very well tives are ubiquitous and often ineffective. Jorge Hage leads his government’s battle informed about critical issues. The result Open government is a relatively new term against corruption from the Office of the is a delicate, ever-shifting dynamic among in the vocabulary of foreign policy. And Comptroller General, whereas in the Philip- representatives who together drive OGP questions of corruption and accountabil- pines, Minister Florencio “Butch” Barsana forward. But no matter the sensitivities, the ity are older than democracy itself. The Abad is advancing government transparen- reward already has proven to be far greater: possibility of creating an initiative that cy from the Ministry of Finance and Budget. a thoughtful policy agenda followed by ac- would catalyze government transparency OGP’s challenge, and its goal, is to iden- tion and accountability. and accountability was, understandably, tify champions within government agencies Although it remains to be seen whether a long shot. and elevate them to an international stage OGP will create long-term impact through For OGP, the stars aligned, and it went through a network of like-minded reformers country action plans, the initiative has al- from an idea to an international headline committed to improving the transparency ready succeeded in setting new, high expec- to a good governance roadmap in less than and accountability of governments. OGP of- tations for results-based collaboration. We a year. Today, 58 OGP countries have joined fers a second pathway for international en- hope that its example of leveraging domes- OGP, making commitments that will affect gagement: It is a partnership not just among tic champions and including civil society two billion people. A testament to US Secre- nations, but also between governments and has set a new precedent for future interna- tary of State Hillary Clinton’s vision of 21st- civil society. From the governance of OGP tional efforts. ●8 Open Government Partnership
  9. 9. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRInnovating Modern Democracy, JORGE HAGE has served as Minister of State and Head of the Office of the Comptrollerin Brazil and Globally General of Brazil since June 2006.BY JORG E HAGEO n April 17, 2012, Brazil hosted the that civil society pressure influenced some economically modest nations—to join OGP. first High-Level Conference of governments to join the project, and this is The possibility of exchanging experiences the Open Government Partner- one of the benefits of civil society organiza- and sharing learning seems more feasible in ship (OGP)—a partnership that tions’ participation in the initiative and on this environment. And the leadership roles grew in a mere six months from OGP’s steering committee. Another impor- of countries like Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia,eight founding countries to 55 participat- tant aspect of OGP is the way it highlights in- and South Africa, all of which are on OGP’sing governments. As I write, the number of novative projects in developing and devel- steering committee, sent an important sig-participants has grown to 58 countries, and oped countries. For example, Brazil’s online nal to countries in the South that the playingI am certain it will rise again by the time this Transparency Portal publishes expenses field is changing.article is published. incurred by the government on a daily basis Having said this, I would equally stress Brazil was one of the founding coun- in easily understandable terms, enabling that there is a wide distance among coun-tries and the first co-chair of the initiative, anyone to monitor budget execution and tries on the steering committee and in theside by side with the United States, becauseOGP’s rationale and its objectives con-verged with the government directive of The leadership roles of Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia,transparency implemented at the very be- and South Africa, which all are on OGP’s steeringginning of the first term of President LuizInácio Lula da Silva’s government in 2003. committee, sent an important signal to countriesSo in January 2011, when the White House in the South that the playing field is changing.approached the Office of the ComptrollerGeneral, which I head, about the Braziliangovernment’s interest in this new idea, we help prevent corruption. The portal also partnership: they are not, by any means, awere immediately authorized by President publishes the paychecks of all public offi- homogeneous group. Some of them, usuallyDilma Rousseff to join the endeavor. cials, from President Rousseff to the hum- referred to as emerging economies, such Since then, and with support from the blest public employee. It shows that there as Brazil, South Africa, and Russia, are notMinistry of Foreign Affairs and other Bra- is no monopoly on cutting-edge solutions necessarily emerging democracies. Eitherzilian ministries, the participation and the for common governance issues. This type of their democratic institutions are alreadycommitments to be adopted under OGP innovation has encouraged a wide range of beyond the stage of “emerging,” or theyhave coincided with our government’s aims. countries to join the partnership. are not yet democratically robust, despiteOGP has augmented goals and projects al- An equally important aspect of OGP is their nations’ economic strength. For OGP,ready under way or in initial phases of de- that it is a voluntary government commit- promoting solid democratic institutions isvelopment. ment. The fact that it is non-mandatory what counts most. I imagine that Brazil’s experience is not makes it markedly different from other in- Fortunately, with the support of UNDPso different from other OGP member coun- ternational initiatives, such as the United and OECD, countries of the so-called Arabtries, because the partnership was created to Nations Convention against Corruption, Spring (Middle Eastern and North Africanbuild on transparency and good governance which requires governments to adopt mea- nations), such as Tunisia, seem to be willingreforms being carried out domestically—to sures to increase transparency in the public to prepare their institutions for future ad-greater or lesser degree—by governments sector and to engage society and the private herence to OGP.around the world. The project has great ap- sector to prevent and fight corruption. At OGP has barely completed its first year.peal: it is a global challenge for government the same time, OGP differs from other inter- It might be premature to make any thor-and civil society stakeholders to address, very national mechanisms in that no distinction ough evaluation of its results. It is, however,directly, the concept of democracy—modern is made between developed or emerging clear that OGP has been able to generatedemocracy. It has provoked positive reactions countries and underdeveloped or economi- some concrete changes in attitudes in suchin many countries, even in nations where pre- cally modest nations. sensible government areas as transparencyviously there had not been much engagement Brazil’s early and active participation in and openness. And this accomplishmentwith the issue of open government. the partnership has encouraged other coun- surely deserves special attention, even out- On the other hand, there is little doubt tries—both emerging economies and more right celebration. ● Open Government Partnership 9
  10. 10. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR Advocacy from the Inside: WARREN KRAFCHIK is the director of the International Budget Partnership and is the The Role of Civil Society civil society co-chair of the Open Government Partnership. BY WA RREN K RAFC HIK T he Open Government Partner- civil society was initially disappointed by How might these initial experiences ship’s (OGP’s) commitment to the lack of consultation and weak commit- translate into effective civil society engage- a partnership between govern- ments in the initial Mexican action plan. But ment in the broader set of OGP countries? ment and civil society at interna- having Mexican civil society and govern- First, our experiences to date show that tional and national levels—and ment representatives on the steering com- productive collaboration between govern- its accent on domestic as opposed to inter- mittee—together with strong CSOs on the ments and CSOs in OGP is certainly pos- national accountability—distinguishes it ground—empowered reformers in the gov- sible. Indonesia and the Philippines, for from many international initiatives pro- ernment. The result was a redrafted, stron- example, have included civil society in the moting open government. ger Mexican action plan, which included action plan drafting committee. Mexico and As a September 2012 survey of civil so- exciting progress on consumer protection the United States have multi-stakeholder ciety organizations (CSOs) engaged in OGP and greatly expanded access to school bud- teams at both the national and sector levels shows, there is widespread recognition that get information. driving action plan development. Still, in OGP represents a great opportunity for le- Tom Blanton, director of the National many countries government has yet to find veraging transparency and accountability Security Archive at George Washington the appropriate balance of roles and is more in countries around the world. All the or- University and a steering committee mem- hesitant about working with civil society. ganizations are energized by the early vic- ber from US civil society, tells a similar story. This challenge is as great in several Europe- tories that have been achieved, such as the OGP’s design process offered an opportunity an countries as in Africa and Latin America. new Access to Information Law in Brazil to marshal pressure on the US government Second, a critical ally role is not an en- and greater transparency of military and to close the gap between strong open govern- tirely new concept, particularly for organi- police budgets in the Philippines. Most also ment policy commitments and slow or weak zations in countries with a vigorous civil so- acknowledge that OGP has helped to bring implementation of them. The US action plan ciety. But in many parts of the world, where together civil society advocates working across multiple sectors, helping to break Civil society organization participation in OGP at through the silos that often undermine civil society effectiveness. But many CSOs are the international level has supported stronger still cautious about OGP, particularly about how partnerships with governments will processes and outcomes at the country level. play out at the country level. What can we learn from the experience ultimately reflected several CSO priorities, strictly adversarial roles between govern- of the eight founding countries about effec- such as US participation in the Extractive In- ments and CSOs have been the norm, or tive CSO-government collaboration? dustries Transparency Initiative. where civil society is less robust, such a dual At the international level, the partner- The key to these successes was a sophis- role for civil society will be quite new and ship between CSOs and governments on ticated insider-outsider strategy adopted challenging. the steering committee is working well. by experienced activists from countries Third, and perhaps the greatest chal- The two parties’ candid and often vigorous with robust civil societies. The test we faced lenge for both civil society and government discussions—as well as their willingness to as CSOs on OGP’s Steering Committee going forward, will be reaching out within challenge one another (between and within was to help incubate a powerful idea while participating countries to involve those who caucuses)—has significantly refined the staying connected to our civil society part- live outside urban areas, speak in local dia- overarching concept and policies driving ners. Pardinas and Blanton, among others, lects, and have little access to the Internet. the initiative. avoided this potential problem by combin- Both governments and CSOs will have to dig CSO participation in OGP at the inter- ing active engagement on the steering com- deep to transform open government into a national level, in turn, has supported stron- mittee with building or maintaining strong cause that will galvanize the participation ger country-level processes and outcomes relationships to local civil society coalitions. of the poorest and drive real development. in many of the eight founding countries. As In Mexico, a new coalition was assembled; OGP’s progress to date in piloting a new Juan Pardinas, CEO of the Mexican Insti- in the United States an existing coalition— approach to CSO-government collabora- tute for Competitiveness and a colleague—was adapted tion makes me optimistic that we will meet on the steering committee, argues, Mexican for this purpose. these challenges at the country level. ●10 Open Government Partnership
  11. 11. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR FRANCIS MAUDE (left) servesThe UK’s Transparency as the UK Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, and as a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Horsham, West Sussex, England.Agenda SIMON BURALL (right) is the director of Involve, and also serves as chair of Democratic Audit of the United Kingdom, an ambassador for WWF UK, and head of dialogueBY JA NE DU DMAN at the UK’s ScienceWise Expert Resource Centre. provide better information about publicMinister Francis Maude and Simon Burall, a British services if citizens are to make informed choices, says Maude. Some in the United civil society leader, discuss the potential impacts Kingdom believe this fragmentation of of the Open Government Partnership in the UK. public services, particularly in health and education, and the introduction of moreO providers, will make it difficult to compare n September 26, 2012, to mark the elegant offices in central London. Burall is services. But Maude insists that all provid- first anniversary of the Open Gov- director of the think tank Involve, which ers will have to produce comparable data on ernment Partnership (OGP), UK specializes in how new forms of public par- outcomes. Minister Francis Maude wrote on ticipation can strengthen democracy in He acknowledges, however, that the the Guardian Public Leaders Net- Britain and elsewhere. Burall says the part- UK’s transparency program, which includeswork: “Data is the raw material of the 21st nership between the government and civil publishing all local authority spending overcentury and a resource for a new generation society in the United Kingdom is significant £500, has not been welcomed by everyone inof entrepreneurs. But transparency is not in enhancing local democracy. government. And there remains the widerjust about economics. Transparency shines “OGP is a useful umbrella organization challenge, acknowledged by both Burall andlight on underperformance and inefficien- to pull together what’s happening here,” Maude, of getting all public service provid-cies in public services. It allows citizens and he says, adding that the loose network be- ers—not just those whose main focus is han-the media to hold governments to account, tween government and civil society is both dling data—involved with OGP’s agenda. Thestrengthening civil society and building a strength and a potential weakness. If the challenge, explains Burall, is “how to makemore open societies.” collaboration is to have real teeth, says the stuff about datasets seem important to The United Kingdom is a world leader Burall, it must involve civil society partners organizations that are interested in out-in open government. Since May 2010, it has in the peer review of the 2013 national ac- comes.” He says the agenda is about forcingmade almost 9,000 datasets of government tion plan. Civil society organizations, he the government to move from “talking in-information available at, from adds, may want to go further than the gov- wards to turning outwards.”school performance tables to pricing in- ernment in some cases, such as not just con- One of the UK government’s grandestformation about large government capital sulting with citizens about existing policies aims is to make as much as possible of itsprojects. but getting them involved in policy making public sector data available for free or priced Maude heads the Cabinet Office, the and in the government’s public services re- cheaply. “If I compare the UK to the US, we’vedepartment at the heart of the UK gov- form program. made more useful datasets available than theernment’s efficiency and reform program, Maude agrees on the need for OGP to be US,” notes Maude. “But the US has a morewhere he has set up a new, central efficien- more than just talk. “By the end of the UK’s liberal policy in terms of making datasetscy and reform group to keep an eagle eye on time as co-chair, we want the OGP to have available free. It has taken public sector databudgets and procurement. Transparency real authority, resilience, and credibility,” as a public good.” The United Kingdom hasand the release of government information he says. These are high aims, both interna- had a more restrictive approach, becausehave been critical to Maude’s reform pro- tionally and domestically, and Maude ac- it has required government organizationsgram, and he has been particularly active in knowledges the challenges in like Ordnance Survey and the JANE DUDMAN is editor ofdeveloping the independent review mech- the United Kingdom, where the Guardian Public Leaders Met Office to use their map-anism of OGP members’ national action the coalition government Network. ping, weather, and other dataplans. The next iteration of the UK action has driven through a radical as an asset, which they haveplan will be released in 2013, and Maude’s reform program of big cuts sold to companies, to coverdepartment has been working closely with to public sector budgets and their costs. Now, though, thecivil society partners to ensure that they jobs since it came to power in government would prefer totake a vital part in the review process. May 2010. make raw government data This message was exactly what Simon In a more diverse and dis- freely available and let othersBurall wanted to hear when he met with persed world of public service add value to it through servicesthe minister in November 2012 in Maude’s provision, it will be vital to and products. ● Open Government Partnership 11
  12. 12. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR Tanzania’s Transparency Agenda BY ELSI E EYAKUZE RAKESH RAJANI(left) is the founder and head of Minister Matthias Chikawe and Rakesh Rajani, Twaweza East Africa. He has been involved with setting up Open Government Partnership from the outset. His work and research interests include basic education reform and a Tanzanian civil society leader, discuss the the role of information in citizen-driven change and public accountability. potential impacts of OGP in Tanzania. MATTHIAS CHIKAWE (right) is a member of the Parlia- ment in the National Assembly of Tanzania and has served as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs since February 2008. M atthias Chikawe, Tanzanian can use the Open Government Partner- their work. For several years now, however, Minister for Justice and Con- ship for our own development. This is not young Tanzanians have been using various stitutional Affairs, does not about foreign policy.’” OGP, says Chikawe, social media with some success to push for mince words when he talks is about using transparency for Tanzanian increased transparency. Plus, says Rajani, about his country’s participa- democracy building and economic growth. the issue of communication goes beyond tion in the Open Government Partnership Rajani points out that these state- new technologies. What OGP-Tanzania (OGP). “It’s something that is not in our cul- ments signal a new way of governing—one must figure out is how to spread the culture ture,” says Chikawe. “Our government has in which “government doesn’t just rule, it of open government throughout the public always been run on confidentiality, so this is actually seeks to solve problems collab- sector, right down to service providers on a big change. You need a big change of atti- oratively. It recognizes that it doesn’t have the ground. tude by civil servants.” all the answers. In that sense, it can also be Chikawe says that citizen participation “It’s one thing to say, ‘Let’s do it and make very liberating for government, to not have is being sought through two main approach- a plan.’ But it’s quite another to change a cul- to feel it has to shoulder all the responsibil- es: public meetings, with a focus on where ture,” adds Rakesh Rajani, head of Twaweza, a ity and fix all the problems.” local government projects are planned and government accountability NGO in East Afri- Tanzania’s OGP plan focuses on health, how they are monitored; and access to the ca. Rajani goes on to stress that the Tanzanian water, and education—services through Internet, to make information available. government, known for its lack of transpar- which citizens and government interact ev- Twaweza is interested in creating opportu- ency, is not monolithic: there are those who ery day, and where the impact of improved nities for citizens to engage more effectively support change, and those who might need governance would be felt most immediately. in their day-to-day interactions with the coaxing into it. Rajani and Chikawe emphasize that citizen government, such as at public schools and Chikawe and Rajani are sitting in ad- participation begins with access to informa- clinics. jacent chairs at the Twaweza offices in tion. Yet according to 2010 World Bank data, “Practical accountability on the ground Dar es Salaam in a rarely seen instance of only 11 percent of Tanzanians are Internet us- is important,” says Rajani. “Citizens have to government and civil society collabora- ers (although 20 million use mobile phones). have some level of confidence that there will tion. It is a hopeful sight, considering the OGP-Tanzania is drafting a communications be consequences.” checkered history of Rajani’s relationship strategy to use modern information technol- Rajani points out that government ac- with his government. In 2005, while he ogy, and the anticipated Freedom of Infor- countability and confidence are also ben- was executive director of Haki Elimu, an mation Act will be used to support OGP-Tan- eficial for the public sector. If government education advocacy NGO, the government zania’s transparency agenda. employees are rewarded or ELSIE EYAKUZE is a columnist banned the organization from “undertak- When the two men are for The East African who blogs at disciplined according to how ing and publishing any studies on Tanza- asked if the social media com- The Mikocheni Report. they perform—as verified by nia schools.” The situation was resolved in munity has been approached their “clients,” citizens—it 2007. Chikawe admits that there are still to assist with OGP-Tanzania’s could motivate an overall im- many in government who are suspicious of agenda, uncertainty creeps provement in services. civil society. Yet both men are members of into the conversation, be- “Open Government Part- the steering committee of OGP. cause social media are still nership is about helping gov- Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete new, and public institutions ernment to create an environ- is keen on OGP, says Chikawe. “The presi- are in the initial phases of ment in which citizens can get dent said to me: ‘Go out there and see if we trying to harness them for things done,” says Rajani. ●12 Open Government Partnership
  13. 13. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIRPhilanthropy Can Catalyze an MARTIN TISNÉ is director, policy at Omidyar Network. Previously, he was founding director of the TransparencyOpen Government Movement and Accountability Initiative, where he helped found the Open Government Partnership.BY MA RTI N TISNÉT he initial phase of Open Govern- not all—of these communities of practice open government discussion, leading to the ment Partnership (OGP) illus- have developed their own, somewhat siloed, creation and development of new norms and trates how philanthropic funding international standard-setting initiatives. standards. The Global Initiative for Fiscal can catalyze and help build sec- The net result is a veritable alphabet soup of Transparency (GIFT), which aims to devel- tors. In September 2010, a small international initiatives: EITI, IATI, GIFT, op standards related to budget transparencygroup of private organizations—under the META, COST, ODC. All are dedicated to in- and participation of citizens in the budgetaegis of the Transparency and Accountabil- creasing transparency, participation, and process, was directly inspired by OGP andity Initiative, a donor collaborative includ- accountability in their specific sub-sectors includes two prominent OGP governmenting funders such as Omidyar Network, Open (oil, gas, mining, budgets, medicine, con- members (Brazil and the Philippines) in itsSociety Foundations, the William and Flora struction, open data). founding stewards group. The Open DataHewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, OGP itself is not a standard-setting Charter (ODC) aims to provide a tool for civiland Hivos (as well as two leading interna- body. It provides a forum for the standard- society to benchmark the many open datational NGOs, International Budget Partner- setters to use as a policy hook for their commitments coming out of OGP as well asship and Revenue Watch Institute)—recog- work. It has provided—in the words of John for government reformers developing—at anized the opportunity OGP presented. They Wonderlich, policy director of the Sunlight frenetic pace—new open data initiatives.backed the government and civil society Foundation—a “softball” to the civil society Third, OGP is beginning to influencereformers with funding, connections, and community, to develop new open govern- large-scale standard-setting bodies andintellectual support. ment norms and standards and energize ex- groups. The High Level Panel on the post-2015 This funder engagement was vital in giv- isting ones. Civil society groups that seek to development agenda (the rethink of the Mil-ing OGP instigators the external validation build, or are on the verge of developing, in- lennium Development Goals) is co-chaired by three prominent OGP governments: Indo- nesia, the United Kingdom, and Liberia. CivilOGP is energizing the global open government society and governments have spoken of andiscussion, while developing new norms and Open Development Goals approach to “open up” the UN-led process. Within the G8, G20,standards—something donors should support. and OECD, OGP governments are caucusing and engaging with civil society in new ways toand confidence they needed to take the idea ternational norms can do so and then work push forward “the power of open.”full steam ahead. OGP was initiated by the with governments to include these norms in Last and fascinatingly, standards are be-United States, Brazil, and six other interna- their open government partnership action ing developed by OGP from the bottom up intional governments, and early and flexible plans. As of late 2012, OGP is contributing ways that we cannot yet imagine. As 58 gov-philanthropic support helped ensure the to international standard setting on open ernments make hundreds of commitments,full participation of civil society—at a global government in four ways. norms will bubble up to the surface. If 25level—and its eventual representation in First, governments are using OGP to governments start instituting citizen bud-OGP’s governance structure. adhere to existing standards. For example, gets, as the government of the Philippines The myriad constellations and com- the United States, Ukraine, and Colombia recently did, a new way for governments tomunities of practice that make up the global became signatories to the Extractive Indus- engage with citizens will government sector are fascinating tries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as part We are witnessing an incredibly excitingand the object of very little study. There are of their OGP action plans. The United States array of international initiatives, and OGP iswell over a dozen distinct open-government also became a signatory to the International energizing them and putting them into prac-related communities of practice: freedom- Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) as part tice. At its heart, OGP holds the promise ofof-information activists, open-data geeks, of its action plan. In fact, EITI has received bringing together these myriad communitiesfiscal-transparency zealots, service-deliv- significant interest from OGP countries, and building a truly global open governmentery monitors, financial-sector reform advo- whose governments are signing up as well as movement. The philanthropic community’scates, and many more. (A good overview is pledging progress on EITI implementation challenge now is to catalyze this innovationavailable on the Transparency and Account- as part of their country action plans. while building a joined-up sector, and resistability Initiative website.) Many—though Second, OGP is energizing the global the temptation to fund in silos. ● Open Government Partnership 13
  14. 14. SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT TO SSIR India in Open Government NIKHIL DEY (left) and ARUNA ROY are founding members of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana (Asso- ciation for the Empowerment of Workers and Peasants) and leading right-to-information activists in India. and Open Government in India BY NI KHI L DEY & ARUNA ROY U S President Lyndon Johnson and the Public Procurement Bill—all have been UK Prime Minister Tony Blair tabled in Parliament in the last year and are were not the only ones with strong in various stages of enactment. regrets about the freedom of in- India owes many of these systemic re- formation legislation enacted forms to a vibrant, bottom-up demand for nurtured and sustained? when they were leaders of their democracies. opening up government. The RTI movement Enforcing OGP standards will remain The landmark Right to Information (RTI) in India has changed the discourse of trans- a big challenge. Even if there are gross and law, enacted in 2005 in India, has been the parency and accountability by connecting repeated failures by some countries, OGP cause of similar distress for the ruling class. these seemingly esoteric issues to basic en- can only name and shame, or threaten sus- Beyond the rhetoric of transparency, titlements, empowerment, and meaningful pension. The threat of suspension is seen accountability, and participation lies an un- participation by ordinary citizens in the plan- by many in civil society as an essential pro- comfortable adjustment to redrawing the ning, monitoring, and decision-making pro- vision to enforce accountability. Yet as an fault lines of power. This discomfort per- cesses of government. The Delhi High Court enforcement mechanism it is at best a pa- haps explains why the Indian government remarked in a recent landmark order that per tiger. Suspending a country from a vol- passed a powerful RTI law and then made the Indian RTI movement has demonstrated untary partnership like OGP is impractical repeated attempts to amend and dilute it. that the Right to Information is not only part and counterproductive. It also may explain why the government of Freedom of Expression under Article 19 There is also the tension of a suddenly of India withdrew from the Open Govern- of the fundamental rights enshrined in the powerful and increasingly influential inter- ment Partnership (OGP) after being part of Indian Constitution, but also a part of Article national civil society. As civil society organi- its formative discussions. Indian bureau- 21 (the Right to Life) and Article 14 (the Right zations become active within OGP to ensure crats raised valid concerns about the uncon- to Equality). In countries where poverty and compliance with commitments by govern- ventional nature of OGP as a multilateral or- marginalization are important concerns, In- ments, questions will arise about their own ganization. They argued that it went beyond dia’s experience with the practical applica- transparency and how they determine to the norms of a voluntary partnership. It is tion of transparency and participatory em- whom and how they are accountable. It remains to be seen whether a treaty- like approach to enforcement will work. Ironically, just as India was withdrawing from The moral pressure of “practicing what you the fledgling OGP, the Indian government and preach” might in fact prove to be OGP’s most useful aspect. Domestic groups can and will Parliament were actively considering a slew of use their leaders’ OGP commitments to de- new transparency and accountability legislation. mand more openness at home. Even civil so- ciety organizations, including donors, will have to live up to the rhetoric and become equally probable that the Indian experience powerment has fundamental value. more transparent, accountable, and demo- with RTI laws, and the subsequent anti- Nevertheless, India’s absence under- cratic. The complexities of doing so should corruption movement, made the political scores the larger challenges OGP may face not be a deterrent. establishment wary of any new “open gov- in the months and years ahead. This tension Nevertheless, OGP leadership could con- ernment” commitments abroad for which it is endemic to the OGP process. OGP defines centrate more on fostering participation and would be held accountable at home. itself as a “voluntary partnership” that at- consultation and leave enforcement of OGP Ironically, just as India was withdraw- tempts to push the envelope every year. commitments largely to domestic groups. ing from the fledgling OGP, the Indian It seeks to evaluate governments against The platform of mutual support offered by government and Parliament were actively their own standards, with equal participa- OGP for institutionalizing domestically considering a slew of new transparency and tion from an increasingly demanding civil driven transparency aspirations is itself of accountability legislation. The LokPal Bill society. Opening up governments at home immense utility. The dialogue, debate, and (Anti-corruption Commission), the Griev- and abroad will often result in redistribut- interactions that OGP is generating are far ance Redress Bill, the Whistle-blower Pro- ing power. Hostility from the establishment too important to lose at the altar of impracti- tection Bill, the Judicial Accountability Bill, is logical. How creatively can this tension be cal and unenforceable standards. ●14 Open Government Partnership