22 September 2011

The Open Government Partnership was launched in New York on Tuesday by President Obama and numerous Heads of State and Heads of  Government from the 46 participating countries.  At the United Nations, this time last year, President Obama challenged the international community …”to come back this year with specific commitments to promote transparency, to fight corruption, to energize civic engagement and to leverage new technologies so we can strengthen the foundations of freedom in our own countries.”

The action plans include

  • effective management of natural resources revenues eg US joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
  • delivering public information eg Brazil’s  Open Data Portal
  • gender equality eg Norway’s  promotion of gender equality and women’s full participation in civic life, the private sector, public administration and political processes
  • open data eg Britain’s promotion of a culture of transparency among public authorities.

Britain may well make aid dependent on beneficiary states committing to the OGP. The Minister of the Cabinet said that before UK gives budget support, countries will need to show they are working on plans to release government data,implement freedom of information laws and disclose details of how foreign aid is spent.

Membership of the OGP requires a commitment to the Open Government Declaration.  This involves developing a national plan after public consultation and regular reporting on its implementation .

Despite the assurances of New Zealand ministers and their Australian counterparts about their enthusiasm for transparency and open government, neither New Zealand nor Australia has joined the OGP.