News 2nd September 2015

Improving Government-Civil Society Interactions Within OGP | Open Government Partnership

by Tim Hughes

Tim is coordinator of the UK Open Government Network.

The findings of research commissioned by Hivos and undertaken by three academics – Mary Francoli, Alina Ostling, and Fabro Steibel – on improving government-civil society interactions within OGP has just been published.

Civic engagement is at the heart of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). In signing the Open Government Declaration, OGP members commit to engaging citizens in the development, implementation, and monitoring of their National Action Plans. As OGP is nascent, we are still learning about how governments and civil society interact within its framework and how the interaction can be strengthened.

Last month, the report ‘From Informing to Empowering: Improving Government-Civil Society Interactions within OGP’ was published (Full report) (Policy brief). The report, commissioned by Hivos and carried out with a grant of the IDRC in Canada, looked at government-civil society interactions within 9 OGP member countries: Peru, Honduras, Chile, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, Croatia, Romania, and Armenia. The central questions guiding the report are: How have governments in OGP participating countries interacted with civil society on matters related to OGP? And, what factors have been critical for success or failure?

Ultimately, the report found that there are several opportunities for improved citizen engagement within OGP countries. One of the mechanisms that works well and helps to empower civil society is the existence of a regular structure for OGP dialogue within a country. Croatia, which has an OGP Council that oversees the development and monitoring of its NAP serves as a good example. The key for success seems to have been the transparent selection of members; as well as the involvement of enthusiastic and proactive public servants, and expert CSO representatives working toward the same goals.

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