The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global effort for improving governance. It is a new 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 Internal Review Mechanism Process
The IRM is an independent body within OGP that monitors participating countries’ implementation of OGP commitments according to each country’s action plan. The IRM composes annual independent reports for each participating country. In these reports, the IRM assesses the sufficiency of the country’s action plan; comments on actions relevant to the country’s participation in OGP not reflected in the action plan; evaluates progress on articulation and implementation of all commitments within the plan according to the milestones prescribed in the plan; and provides technical recommendations on how the country may improve the implementation of its plan and better fulfil the values and principles of OGP. Starting in 2014, the IRM will annually report on the context surrounding performance on specific OGP eligibility criteria based on citizen feedback, and provide follow-up recommendations based upon prior reports. However, the OGP Support Unit will remain the primary authority for determining and discussing OGP country performance on eligibility criteria. The IRM’s independent reports are based upon country-specific conditions and are authored with an aim to increase “national-level dialogue and inter-country conversation”.
The IEP is the IRM’s guiding body and is charged with managing the functioning of the IRM and overseeing the composition of independent reports. Senior advisors determine the strategic development of the IRM and promote IRM findings. The IEP technical advisors develop methodology for reviews, hire local researchers, conduct quality control, review all final reports, and help to oversee IRM policies. IEP members are selected by the Steering Committee from a pool of candidates, screened for conflicts of interest and presented through an open nomination process. Panel members serve two-year terms, which may be extended an extra year.
In South Africa
The South African government is a founding member and has already embarked on a process of determining their key commitments on open government, which commitments were tabled at the Heads of State summit that took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on 20 September 2011. It was also at this summit that the heads of state from the 8 OGP countries adopted a declaration on Open Government. The process of determining South Africa’s OGP commitments was supposed to be fully consultative, involving civil society. However, many questions have been raised as to the extent of consultation undertaken.