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Open Government Partnership meeting produces plenty of positives


In December 2012 Rome hosted the third Open Government Partnership (OGP) European outreach meeting. The event, organised by the Italian public administration department – keen to prove to its citizens that it is able to rise to the ambitious challenge of the OGP – included international participants from well beyond the borders of Europe. About 80 representatives from 16 governments, five international organisations and from civil society discussed the themes of transparency, participation and collaboration between governments and civil society, both from a European perspective and in relation to the development of the OGP.

Andrew Stott, who is a member of the UK public sector transparency boardand the chair of OGP, and I opened the event. Stott pointed out that the success of the OGP in its first year now needs to be consolidated.

The OGP needs to continue to attract countries to join and ensure the involvement of civil society through more reliable mechanisms. The priority is to move from intentions to actions, and the role of the Independent Reporting Mechanism will be vital. Joseph Foti, a member of the OGP team based in Washington, presented details of the mechanism, which is essential to monitor and improve the performance of the governments who belong to the OGP. The mechanism will also help clarify whether countries' national action plans really meet the needs of the countries and their populations.

The last panel of the day focused more specifically on the OGP and how it is evolving at national and international level. The Norwegian representative outlined the difficulty of speaking with fragmented civil society organisations when consulting them on the national OGP action plan. Several proposals to solve this problem have been presented while keeping in mind that excessive centralisation at the level of civil society is counterproductive..

The second problem encountered by several of the panellists, in both civil society organisations and within government bodies, is how to engage beyond the "usual suspects" – the activists in the field when consulting on OGP matters. A range of methods of consultation with citizens seems to have succeeded in Croatia, while the representative of Italy's Cittadinanzattiva emphasised that the department for public administration should always give feedback to citizens who participate.

Everyone agreed that no government is perfect. Meetings such as the one in Rome are organised so that everyone involved can learn from each other, but also to acknowledge that, as noted by Paul Maassen, OGP representative for civil society, each country achieves results in its own way.

I was pleased with the day and I concluded the event on similar tones. I am aware that the path of transparency is a constantly evolving process. We need to continue to find practical solutions and best practices for different public bodies, both national and local.

Antonio Naddeo is head of the department for public administration at the presidency of the council of ministers and is a member of the steering committee of the Italian national school of public administration 


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