Open government is the simple but powerful idea that governments and institutions work better for citizens when they are transparent, engaging and accountable.
Open government has three parts:
Good open government reforms can transform the way government and public services work, ensuring that they are properly responsive to citizens, while improving their efficiency and effectiveness, and preventing abuses of state power.
The UK Open Government Civil Society Network is a coalition of active citizens and civil society organisations committed to making government and other powerful institutions work better for people through enhanced transparency, participation and accountability. The OGN collaborates with and challenges governments in the UK to develop and implement ambitious open government reforms through the UK’s membership of the Open Government Partnership.
The membership of the network currently stands at over 700 members. The network is coordinated independently of government by Involve (funded by the Omidyar Network) and has a seven member steering group:
Read the Open Government Network’s terms of reference.
The Open Government Partnership is an international initiative that provides a platform for reformers inside and outside governments around the world to develop reforms that “promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance”. Since its foundation in September 2011, over 2,000 commitments have been made by 65 participating countries, covering a third of the world’s population.
Countries must meet a set of basic eligibility criteria and agree to an Open Government Declaration to join. Once a member, governments must develop a National Action Plan with civil society in their country on a biennial basis. The government must regularly report on its progress and work with civil society to achieve the agreed reforms. Progress is evaluated at regular intervals by an independent researcher appointed by the OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism. The OGP emphasises partnership between government and civil society at all levels. Its steering committee is formed of equal government and civil society representatives, with co-chairs drawn from each.
The UK was a founding member of the OGP in 2011. Since, it has produced two National Action Plans (2011-13 & 2013-15), and is due to agree and publish its third (2015-17) by the end of 2015.
As well as its domestic role, the UK Government has been an OGP steering committee member since its foundation, and co-chaired the initiative in 2012/13.