Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted a day-long high-level meeting to announce the Open Government Partnership at the Department of State on July 12, 2011. The Secretary delivered remarks with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota at the opening session.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a new international initiative aimed at securing concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective, and accountable. A multi-stakeholder International Steering Committee, co-chaired by the United States and Brazil in its inaugural year, is comprised of government and civil society representatives from around the world. Together with partner nations and leading civil society organizations, OGP is a vehicle to further advance President Obama and Secretary Clinton's goals of strengthening democracy and human rights, fighting corruption, and harnessing technology and innovation to transform governance in the 21st century.
During the opening session, Secretary Clinton said:
"In the coming weeks, I will issue policy guidance instructing every diplomat and every development officer at the State Department and USAID to elevate the fight against corruption as a focus of their work with other countries. We will also be establishing an innovation fund to create incentives and boost political support for transparency, anti-corruption efforts, and tax reform. And we will launch a pilot project to support a small number of countries in their efforts to make comprehensive, integrated reforms in all three areas.
"The Open Government Partnership complements this work by representing a new global effort to do exactly that: promote transparency, fight corruption, and energize civic engagement. This is a partnership on three levels. First, it is a partnership among governments. We all face common challenges. We have a great deal to learn from each other, and so this is a two-way conversation where we are all sharing ideas and learning. Second, it is a partnership with civil society. And third, it is a partnership with the private sector.
"We envision the Open Government Partnership as a network of support for those leaders and citizens working to bring more transparency and accountability to governments worldwide. This can be a lonely, sometimes even dangerous, task. But through this partnership, we hope to change that.
"We also want to use this to build a network for disseminating successful innovations. Now, often ideas that work in one place can work in other places, and we need a better system for sharing best practices.
"Look again at what Brazil has done. Brazil's transparency portal, which gives every citizen an internet connection and therefore the chance to see how their government money is being spent, is an extraordinary innovation and one that we really admire. Or Indonesia's development program, which allocates blocks of funding to villages and then invites villagers to join in deciding where the money should go, so it's not just people sitting in government building in Jakarta, but it's people on the ground looking at their own needs. Or the citizen monitoring websites that have been launched in both Kenya and Chile to publish the voting records of elected officials and the platforms of political parties to give citizens a channel for sharing their views, both positive and negative, with their leaders.
"Now, some of these innovations were made possible by new connection technologies. Mobile phones, SMS messaging, social networks -- these are 21st century tools. And we have a unique opportunity to put those 21st century tools to work on behalf of 21st century governance. So that is the promise that is represented by this Open Government Partnership.
"Now the hard part starts: to translate that promise into reality; to sign on to the principles of this Open Government Declaration; to make concrete commitments to do more to ensure openness and accountability within our governments and societies; and then to do the difficult, but I believe very rewarding, work of fulfilling those commitments in the months ahead.
"We have two months until we meet again in September for the official launch. The United States will join with Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United Kingdom in announcing our own open government commitments at that time. And I would invite all of you to join us and signal your commitment with us on the margins of the UN General Assembly. We should send a clear message to the world that this community of nations coming together voluntarily -- as Minister Hage reminds us, this is truly an open partnership for open government, no one is coerced or required to be here. But because we have come together, let us look for ways that we can send a message about what we are willing to do to get results."
You can read the Secretary's full remarks here.