Meeting notes 21st January 2013

The global agenda

by Tim Hughes

Tim is coordinator of the UK Open Government Network.

This Thursday (24 January), the UK OGP civil society network and Cabinet Office Transparency Team will be holding the fourth and final session in the series on the content of the UK’s next open government National Action Plan. The session will take place at the Open Data Institute and will be on the priority area of: “Moving forward the global agenda on openness and transparency”.

More details on the types of issues and policies that the session will cover can be found below. If you have any questions, please get in touch via: tim@involve.org.uk

To recap…

On 15 November, members of the Cabinet Office Transparency Team and the civil society network met to scope out the areas of the UK’s next open government National Action Plan. Four areas were identified based on the UK Government’s priorities and the civil society network’s vision for the Open Government Partnership:

  • Extending the principles of openness and transparency
  • Moving forward the global agenda on openness and transparency
  • Participation and open policy making
  • Anti-corruption

Over past weeks, a session has been held on each of these areas in turn to begin discussions with relevant policy makers regarding the policies and commitments that could be included under each. Notes of these meetings can be found on this blog.

The global agenda

To give an idea of the types of issues and policies that the session will cover, here’s the relevant section from a document drafted after the 15 November session, which sets out some examples of policies and issues that the civil society network would like to consider under each of the themes:

Priority 2: Moving forward the global agenda on openness and transparency

There are some key areas within open government where the UK government can build on its reputation and good practice domestically and make progress at a global level at the same time, in particular using its role as as chair of the G8 in 2013 – a role in which the UK Government should also encourage other countries to join OGP. This will need coordination across the whole of government.

In moving forward the open government agenda, transparency needs to remain linked with enhanced citizen participation as a way of building trust and seeking new ways of policy making and accountability.

Below we outline some key areas where progress can and needs to be made:

Budget Transparency

  • Use the role as co-chair to facilitate work to deepen the fiscal transparency elements of the OGP, for example by strengthening the membership criteria of the OGP; revising the Open Government Declaration to include publication of the full range of government revenues as well as spending; requiring year on year improvements and working with OGP members to reach a minimum score in the Open Budget Index by 2014.
  • Endorse and encourage other OGP members to endorse, engage with and implement the principles of the Global Initiative on Fiscal Transparency
  • Explore with other global bodies how a global fiscal transparency fund to support civil society engagement in budget processes might be established

Natural Resource Transparency

  • Work with others to see the EU deliver effective ‘Publish What You Pay’ transparency legislation at the level of individual extractive projects through the Accounting and Transparency Directives
  • Encourage other countries where extractive industry companies are registered to implement similar publish what you pay laws – including Canada, South Africa, Brazil and Australia
  • Sign up to and implement the EITI in full, demonstrating UK leadership and commitment to extractives transparency, and encourage other OGP resource-rich countries to do the same

Tax Transparency and Illicit Financial Flows

  • Enhance transparency around beneficial ownership, including through support for EU legislation on Anti-Money Laundering
  • Drive progress towards the automatic exchange of information between revenue authorities
  • Explore ways of extending country-by-country reporting beyond the extractives sector

Aid Transparency

  • Fulfil the commitment in its action plan to ensure that all government departments involved in funding aid publish their data to the IATI Registry
  • Work to improve the quality of DfID’s IATI data in line with its open data strategy.
  • Use its chairing of OGP to promote best practice and peer learning to support wider adoption of IATI in national action plans.

Open Infrastructure

  • Ensure public sector clients adopt the disclosure requirements of the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative to promote transparency and efficiency in infrastructure development
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