The Open Government Partnership: Making Government More Open, Effective, and Accountable

Posted by Maria Otero
September 20, 2011
President Obama at Open Government Partnership Meeting in New York

"And when we gather back here next year, we should bring specific commitments to promote transparency, energize civic engagement, fight corruption, and to leverage new technologies so that we strengthen the foundation of freedom in our own countries, while living up to ideals that can light the world." -- President Barack Obama, Address to the UN General Assembly, September 2010

Having listened to President Obama set that challenge one year ago this week, I am proud that we make that vision a reality through the launch of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) today.

The work has not been easy. OGP seeks to address issues that have been challenging governments for years -- corruption, lack of transparency, lagging public faith, and civic engagement. But we decided that by looking at these problems in a fresh way and with new tools, we could find better solutions.

For example, the Brazilian government is publishing all officials' expenditures online within 24 hours, therefore improving transparency. Norway is launching an effort to have more women apply for top posts in the private sector, and undertaking an initiative to strengthen the role of women in local democracy and develop a gender equality program with all municipalities. In Kenya, Haduma is a new platform that enables people to submit reports on the performance of services in their district by text, e-mail, or Twitter. The reports are then mapped on the Huduma site for public viewing and help improve government service delivery and track international aid. These are just a few of the solutions governments, civil society, and citizens are implementing as part of each country's commitment to OGP.

OGP is truly a partnership. We joined with a diverse set of countries representing every region of the world -- Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United Kingdom -- to be part of the Steering Committee and get this done. Civil society has also been critical to these efforts. Africa Center for Open Governance (Kenya), Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Brazil), Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (Mexico), International Budget Partnership (international), MKSS (India), National Security Archive (United States), Revenue Watch Institute (international), Transparency and Accountability Initiative (international), and Twaweza (Tanzania) are all members of the Steering Committee. These organizations are helping direct the work of OGP and are playing a key role in evaluating national action plans.

Other countries are excited to join. When we told the world about our idea, the world responded. Today, I watched President Obama and President Rousseff welcome 37 new countries to the partnership. In the coming months these countries will develop their own country action plans. I look forward to seeing where their creativity, energy and enthusiasm can take us in making government more open, effective, and accountable.

Related Content: Video -- President Obama at the Open Government Partnership Event

Comments

Comments

Shandra C.
September 21, 2011

Shandra C. writes:

omg went through many sites but still couldn't find an article that will answer my questions. glad i found your site. thank you very much. if you need me to update this info, i would like to share with you, just email me.

Ashim C.
|
India
September 21, 2011

Ashim C. in India writes:

I am surprised why India is not mentioned in President Obama's OGP inititiative. I don't know if India has joined this initiative or has deliberately stayed away. But I have no doubt that India needs it the most. Some of the things that are said to be happening are happening in India too. They are happening either in snails pace or in such small droplets or what is happening has been so dwarfed by scale and spread corruption, which has been revealed recently, that political stands totally discredited. Elected representatives in recent debate on Ombudsman bill in parliament almost admitted that politicians may be evil but are necessary while defending supremacy of parliament. This is a dangerous situation. I would like bloggers to think and opine if non-adjudicability of election manifestos used by political parties in democracies across the world to mobilise sovereign will of people is a major factor which leads corruption and degeneration of democracies. Politics is like a service industry ... how can any political process allow free doling out of irresponsible promises through election manifestos when a seller's assurances of small and sundry articles are adjudicable. The task is difficult and has many dimensions but a start has to be made for reforms in electoral processes so that political class is regulated in their electoal utterences in order keep their own credibility and people's faith in democracy intact. I shall be happy if Eric of New Mexico and Susan of Florida and all other serious bloggers give their views.

Maureen
|
Massachusetts, USA
September 21, 2011

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

Under Secretary Maria Otero:

...and while making governments more open and accountable these new Partnerships are improving the lives of citizens and working to stabilize nations. This is a win, win for everyone.
Presidents Obama's Feed The Future Food Security Initiative and the most recent Dipnote posts on Women as Agricultural Producers are stunning examples of policy at its best. They highlight newer,creative solutions to age old challenges in that there is a direct correlation between empowering Women in particular to feed their nations with better seed technology and other resources thereby promoting long term sustainable health of all populations.

Then the post by Dr.Raj Shah's new FWD. Another example of a new campaign to help people respond to famine. These are desperate times for so many but we have much to be hopeful about in our global initiatives.
Nutrition and health as a priority in diplomacy(The Global Health Initiative)leads to security for all.

Zharkov
|
United States
September 21, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

Judicial accountability for politicians and their promises is sorely lacking everywhere including America.

If a politician promises to abolish a hated tax in a "Contract With America" and after election he refuses to act, he should forfeit his office.

If presidents make campaign promises which they never intended to perform, they should have to face an action for deceit in a courtroom.

The quest for an open society will be futile unless there are serious consequences for leaders who lock out all public inquiry into their actions using judicial immunity and executive privilege.

Ashim C.
|
India
September 22, 2011

Ashim C. in India writes:

@ Maureen...I agree with you that these initiatives improve the lives of thousands of citizens. When look at the many of the socioal welfare programmes of government of India, I find they are quite similar to some of the initiatives of US government. food security progammes of two governments is an example. But what political executives can do have natural limits ralated resource availability and such other situational factors. Example world over all political leaders assure job creation and end of unemployment. Limits to these are much too obvious and need no explanation. So why make these assurances. Transparency demands that limitations are acknowledged and assurances and promises are kept confined to doables based on realistic assessment of resource availability and capabilities of system. Adjudicabilty of electoral promises shall help OGP. If some courageous political leader goes ahead with enactments to make election manifestos justiceable in courts, he or she will have not be in any disadvantage because that would be end of wild promise from his political rivals too. I see the possibility of politicians under promising stretch less and then come back at end of term to say "I did more than I promised". A more real danger of adjudicability of election manifesto can be that it may remove or reduce enthusiasm in mood of nations.

Maureen
|
Massachusetts, USA
September 25, 2011

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

@ Ashim C. in India:

Thank you so much for your engaging comment. I agree that the last thing we need to do is reduce enthusiasm in the moods of nations. My point was focused on President Obama's recent policy initiatives and the Role of Women as Agricultural Producers to feed nations though I did not comment on government transparency, another initiative that is being improved upon every day.
For example, We The People. A brand new initiative under President Obama where citizens can petition the "Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues"(whitehouse.gov.). Yes there are limitations and they must be acknowledged to maintain realism but nations that join the OGP can share resources and creativity to help improve accountability and global food security.

Susan C.
|
Florida, USA
September 27, 2011

Susan C. in Florida writes:

@ Ashim C. in India...thank you for inviting me into the discussion of "open government". What could be better than transparency in our governments? The OGP inititative is certainly a step in the right direction. My thought though is that America and my own government must be the leaders in this, or what example will it be for the rest of the world if we are not? Right now my country is going through an election process and it is apparent that deception is part of the agenda. So, I call upon my country and my government to set a higher standard and show the world that we can do what we preach. Regards to you.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 28, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Susan C. in Florida,

C/C; the economicly challenged,

I guess if there's a state of deception then it must be asked "who is creating it?", or "are we not decieving ourselves?" - once more into the breach of partisan politics and election rhetoric-to think the candidates actully give a damn what the public thinks,... unless they can attend $5000 a plate dinners and smooze a lot.

Great, nice food and all the trimmings I'm sure, you get "seconds" with that? But let's get real, you can feed a lot of homeless folks on bread like that.

If I were running for Pres. I would be passing round the beggin' bowl among the crowds, hoping to fully fund FEMA so they can take care of the victims of natural disaster in the US, and I'd be calling for a new look at the concept of the "civilian response corps" initiated by State, as a possible crossover to add faster post-disaster organizational capability at a local level w/ skilled manpower and contactor's equip. available sooner rather than later on site.

And I ask the State dept. , since it pretty well (along with DoD) led the "surge" for an interagency approach to disaster relief and post-recovery; giving USAID their independence as a part of this team effort; that I hope folks will think about how that flow can work in reverse to take the models for success attained through years of relief work globally; to help deal with almost a dozen natural disasters over the last year here in the continental US.

Microfinance programs for instance; After having bailed out the banks, one would think the American taxpayer faced with the remains of his demolished house could apply for a grubstake loan from his local banker and expect to start rebuilding the homestead with the bank confortably assured that the loan is covered at least in part by disaster assistance.

SBA "special needs" loans to get buisiness' back up and running...

The key to pulling the economy out of the doldrums of our despair lies not in any one particular legistative miracle, but in going back to the banking basics that made this nation an economic powerhouse to begin with.

Any bank that gets an application for a loan for buisiness start up costs, equipment, working capital to gain credit with supplies should see that as a working man's prerequisite, because the person applying obviously intends to work for a living.

If you want to jump start the economy you must jump start a lot of individual's prospects and ability to invest in that economy and contribute to it.
Banks have a social responsibility to see that happen.

I go to my bank to see if I can use the title to my 4x4 to pay for a rebuilt trans. and clutch to be put in the same vehicle...not like the borrowed investment I'm making in my infrastructure is going anywhere they can't reposess right? It's a secured loan. What's not for a bank to like about that?

Gee, my Trooper's too old,...(correction: lovingly restored during an unemployment restoration project)

This isn't the pervue of the US dept of State to delve into domestic banking practices in the USA, but it does happen to be one of the most creative and effective tools of our government where it concerns the uplifting of citizens to their potential all over the globe.

Since folks must be doing a few things right, I just figured a logical government would make use of such a knowlege base and put it to work domesticly, as applicable.
Because on the far end of adding additional brainpower and capability to accent existing domestic resources, it's going to be hard for folks in Congress to claim the work folks do in humanitarian relief and reconstruction globally doesn't have lasting positive effects here at home in being able to cope with $ 50 billion in property damage over this past year or so.

If FEMA and USAID could take a combined approach, coordinating all the volunteer help that flows into a region, then you have basicly a "flash" civilian response corps, with a hundred thousand "Jonny on the spot" kind of folks across the country to call upon via twiiter to be that army of "2nd responders", (if that's an appropriate term).

Now if all that dovetails in with a broad spectrum job creation program through infrastructure projects and the like, well all the better; might as well plant a few million trees in the mountains along with that just to give the unemployed youth an alternative to the city heat in the summertime.

"Open Government" in one practical aspect can be seen in the ability of the workings of government to mesh in a coordinated, efficiant manner, to expidite a solution to a problem; the level of corruption may be assesesed by its attitude, performance, and type of ethical response to any given crisis a government is met with.

Best ,

EJ

Susan C.
|
Florida, USA
September 28, 2011

Susan C. in Florida writes:

@ Eric in NM...always good to read your thoughts and comments. I do agree with your ideas for cooperation among agencies to help Americans get back on our feet, so to speak. I do think it is time for ALL of the politicians to realize that we are not completely stupid "out here". We do know that most of them have sold their "souls" to the individuals who are coming to their 5,000 dollar a plate refund raisers.

Sadly, Eric, I have begun to believe that we are now living in the "new" middle ages and we are the "mud" people. Only good for paying unfair percentages on our loans and credit cards, being the ones carrying the burden of the dishonest banking/insurance system, and sending or going off to war(s) to die for all of these deceptive, (lying), individuals. Wow!! It is time we ask more from our government and from all of the individuals running for office who are promising us so much.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 28, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Susan,

(Chuckle) Yes well as far as mucking about is concerned, my tranny still sounds like a washing machine,...and I got the "Bungi-matic" assist on the tranfer case shifter keepin' things in gear when I go mud-bogging on our pothole ridden streets after a good rain, and don't let the fact that we'all in New Mexico live in these little mud huts called adobe homes cause you to think I'm like the "Joe dirt" of diplomacy or anything...(LOL!)

As you know I rarely go off on a domestic bent on this blog, ....The wars we're forced to fight for good reason, costs much and will take time to win,...and what some may percieve as a by-product of our so-called "corruption" is simply our response to the corruption that bred the lack of empathy in the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

Gonna be hard to end the scourge of terrorism globally if no one wants to get dirty doing it, and if you were to ask a Marine, he'd tell you that there are at least a thousand different types of mud, and a name for every one.

(probably not printable of course)

Best,

EJ

.

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