8 December 2011
The States-members of the Open Government Partnership are meeting this week in Brasilia. The purpose is to reinforce OGP processes and expectations, and to share draft plans to give effect to the underpinning Open Government Declaration.
The Open Government Partnership is built around concrete commitments by governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen government. As a break from governance arrangements in most international organisations, the OGP is coordinated by a steering committee of governments and groups from civil society.
The OGP got off the ground with United Nations support on 20 September 2011. There were 8 founding governments behind the Open Government Declaration (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States). They announced their “action plans” to implement the Declaration, and welcomed the commitment of 39 States to join the Partnership. There are now 42 States developing the commitments that will cement their involvement in the Partnership.
The Brasilia meeting is the opportunity for these new States-members to publicly declare their action plans. These plans share a number of common features.
Commitments are structured around:
improving public services,
increasing public integrity,
more effectively managing public resources,
creating safer communities, and
increasing corporate accountability.
Surprisingly for an international agreement that not only requires States to commit to explicit “good government” practices, but to equally explicit action plans, neither Australia nor New Zealand have indicated a willingness to become parties. This contrasts with the domestic assurances of both governments that open government principles are a priority for them.
One report is that in response to an Official Information Act request the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade indicated that New Zealand was considering participating in the OGP but that the Minister had been preoccupied with the Rugby World Cup when the initiative was launched!