August 3rd, 2011
A group of countries and international NGOs is launching the Open Government Partnership, “a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance”.
To become a member of OGP, countries must adopt an “Open Government Declaration”, develop a national action plan, and commit to independent reporting on their progress.
Governments must also exhibit a commitment to open government in four key areas. Any government can join OGP at any time once they have demonstrated that they meet these minimum criteria. Based on these criteria, 79 countries are said to qualify already for membership. Singapore is not yet on the list.
The four criteria are:
- Fiscal Transparency
The timely publication of essential budget documents forms the basic building blocks of budget accountability and an open budget system.
- Access to Information
An access to information law that guarantees the public’s right to information and access to government data is essential to the spirit and practice of open government.
- Disclosures Related to Elected or Senior Public Officials
Rules that require public disclosure of income and assets for elected and senior public officials are essential to anti-corruption and open, accountable government.
- Citizen Engagement
Open Government requires openness to citizen participation and engagement in policymaking and governance, including basic protections for civil liberties.
The initiative was announced in Washington DC last month and will be formally inaugurated in September.
“Rather than seeing citizens and civil society groups as competitors, governments from the North and South asserted that private actors, commercial and non-profit, are essential partners in solving complex social problems. And this requires a new social contract, a shift from eGov to WeGov,” writes Aleem Walji in his World Bank blog.