News, events

Three Countries Join OGP; Disclosure Policy Criticized


Armenia, Demark and Paraguay have joined the Open Government Partnership, bringing OGP membership to 49. Their commitments come as the OGP prepares for a meeting in Brazil Dec. 7-8 and as comments arrive on the organization’s proposed disclosure policy.

Officially launched in September in New York City, the OGP aims to advance a broad transparency agenda. Member countries agree to prepare action plans and carry them out, with their efforts subject to internal and external review. Preliminary plans are to be presented at the upcoming meetings in Brasilia with final plans due at an April meeting, also being hosted by Brazil, which co-chairs the OGP effort with the United States.

The agenda for the December “peer exchange working level” meeting indicates that there will be several plenary sessions, beginning with one on “how countries are organizing public consultation and how to manage inter‐agency engagement.” This will be followed by presentations by four experts on four thematic topics: “improving public services, increasing public integrity, more effectively managing public resources, and increasing corporate accountability.” Only the plenary sessions will be open to the public.

Five regional break-out sessions to discuss the developing action plans will take up the afternoon of Dec. 7.

On Dec. 8, four steering committee members will discuss structure and strategic vision. The closing session will be on “next steps.” Also during the meeting, the steering committee is expected to discuss governance issues among other things.

Early Comment on Disclosure Policy Urges More

Comments on the OGP’s draft disclosure policy were due Nov. 25, and the OGP Nov. 28 indicated, “We will be collating all of the comments that we received over the past month and posting them here this week. Over the coming weeks, the OGP Steering Committee will review all comments and revise the draft policy. A new version of the OGP disclosure policy will be finalized and published in early 2012.” Previously the OGP had said a revised policy would be given to the OGP Sterring Committee for approval at its Dec. 6 meeting.

According to an analysis announced by Access Info Europe and the Centre for Law and Democracy, the proposed policy lacks detail and needs significant improvement.

“The Open Government Partnership risks missing the opportunity to set high standards which can serve as a model for all the participating countries,” commented Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe. ”The Policy must be reformed to incorporate basic open data principles such as that information will be made available in a machine-readable, electronic format free of restrictions on reuse.”

Because of the lack of detail, too many important matters are left to the discretion of the OGP, the groups’ analysis states. Other key problems identified include:

The failure of the policy to recognise the fundamental human right to information;
The significantly overbroad and discretionary regime of exceptions;
The failure of the draft Policy to put in place a system of protections and sanctions.

Three New Members

Letters from Denmark, Armenia and Paraguay indicating their intention to join the new organization are posted on the OGP website.

The Armenian letter is dated Oct. 17. Noting Armenia’s commitment to transparency, the letter comments, “We welcome the OGP idea that creates a platform for countries around the world to stand together with providing our peoples with the kind of governance that better responds to their needs and aspirations.”

Armenia’s commitment to building an open government is in line with its previous and on-going efforts to promote a more accountable, transparent and effective governance system. Hence, Armenia acknowledges the synergetic importance of building its new commitments and initiatives upon the existing ones, many of which date back to the program of the Armenian Government approved by the Armenian National Assembly in 2008. In this program, public integrity was recognized as one of the important components of state policy. The main directions outlined in the policy include: increasing the effectiveness of state and local self-governance activities, anti-corruption and awareness raising campaigns, improving the public administration system, establishing a business friendly environment and a more effective governance system.


← Back to list