The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete Commitments from governments that promote transparency – the implementation of these Commitments is then monitored by an independent review mechanism. South Africa has been a founding member of the OGP since 2011, having submitted three National Action Plans (NAPs). But change will only happen through a mechanism such as this if its implementation is effective. What can be done to get government departments coordinating on the OGP to make its projects a reality?
After a several months of extensive research ODAC believes that one of the answers lies in driving departments to work together on both the OGP more broadly, but also in relation to specific commitments. Inter-departmental coordination has never been an easy ambition - but ODAC have posited some simple strategies, within the OGP process, that will help in moving open government ambition to open government reality.
You can download the full report by clicking on this image:
Busy day? You can always read our infographic (which will be distributed alongside the research) here.
You can also contact ODAC to find about about accessing a hard copy of the research.
This project is a collaboration between ODAC and the Making All Voices Count.
In 2012, the Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC) began exploring the possibility of an automated online requesting
process for the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA) in South Africa. Adapting the MySociety
technology “Alaveteli”, we pursued the implementation of a solution, but struggled to find any comprehensive reviews
that could provide insight into user experiences of PAIA. To address this, we have undertaken a comprehensive
review of PAIA users and non-users, and in so doing gained invaluable insight into South Africa’s access to information
Access to information is not a reality for most South African citizens. PAIA — the law created to help realise our constitutional right of access to information — is poorly implemented and under-utilised. In 2012, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) reported that fewer than 15% of audited institutions had specifically budgeted for PAIA implementation and compliance requirements since 2008. This patent reflection of the lack of institutionalisation of the law within government departments was the context in which ODAC first considered automating the process for requesting information (the project was initiated in 2013). That lack of prioritisation is reflected in the state’s subsequent performance in relation to PAIA: in the 2012 reporting period, the PAIA Civil Society Network (of which ODAC is an active member) noted that only 16% of requests resulted in the release of requested information, and more disturbingly, 54% of requests simply remained unanswered.
An Infographic Summary of our Research for Download
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global effort for improving governance. It is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee of governments and civil society organisations. You can visit their website, with access to all the main resources, here.
The Open Democracy Advice Centre have been involved in the Open Government Partnership since mid 2011. Our Executive Director, Mukelani Dimba, is a member of the OGP Steering Committee. You can see some our older content and monitoring activities located here.
The South African government is a founding member of the OGP, and has already submitted two action plans. South Africa took the role of Support Chair on the Open Government Partnership Steering Committee in October 2014. This will then be followed by South Africa resuming the Lead Chair in October 2015.
A review of Reviews: Comparing the OGP, UPRM, APRM and OECDA
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was developed with a specific goal in mind: advancing transparency and accountability through open government. Since its inception in 2011, its structure has been developed within that specific agenda, as a unique response to a global accountability crisis. As a review mechanism, it is unique in its strong focus on the development agenda of open government, though other review mechanisms exist to forward different aims from different agencies and regions. If the OGP is to be successful, however, it needs to be effectively implemented into a pre-configured context; and thus we have to determine how it can be harmonized with other review instruments of import. As a first step toward this, this unique body of research explores the intersections, harmonies and (potential) inconsistencies with three other review mechanisms: the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism (UPRM), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Anti-Bribery Convention Review (OECDA).
Through this research, a framework is developed that can assist national investigations into effective methods for implementation of the OGP in different country contexts.
The research reveals that one of the most significant advancements of the OGP is that, from the start, the measures and indicators for success are already contextually particular. The OGP, while ambitious, is also focused and specific, and it has significant potential for effective implementation and harmonisation within the context of current review mechanisms.