Recap from Conversations with America: A Discussion on Open Government Partnership
Jul 8, 2011
2011 Location: Washington, DC Description: Open Government Partnership logo. Conversations With America with Under Secretary Otero, July 7, 2011.jpeg
OGP is an 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.

Moderator: Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Participants: Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs and Warren Krafchik, Director of the International Budget Partnership (IBP)

The discussion between Ms. Otero and Mr. Krafchik yesterday covered the basics of what is open government and why it’s important. There was no specific conversation about the role of transparency in environmental governance, but Publish What You Pay was referenced in passing as a tool to monitor the extractive industry.

Watch the video

TAI posted these questions on the DipNote blog prior to the conversation:
“Of the areas in which governments are encouraged to make commitments as part of OGP, about half concern the environment (extractive industries, environmental access, energy, forests, fisheries etc). Citizen engagement, transparency and accountability is embodied in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration (1992). In your mind, what is the significance of environmental access rights commitments and their relevance to Rio+20 scheduled to happen in Brazil next year? For example, do you envisage that OGP governments will push for language in the Rio+20 outcome moving from access principles to rights or at least concrete government commitments?”

Main Points from the Conversation

  • Open government based on 3 principles: transparency, civic engagement and participation, and accountability.
  • Open government not an end unto itself, it is a tool for government to use to create a dialogue between different societal actors to collaborate and address “wicked” problems.
  • Open government a process that has the ability to create capacity and trust.
  • Governments from all over the world (the global South has shown particular innovation in open government efforts) are showing growing interest in information access and transparency as a way to govern more efficiently and effectively.
  • Civil society helps manage open government tasks because (1) citizens are on the ground and see actual implementation (2) talking to citizens will improve delivery and implementation of services (3) civil society has independent and analytical capacities.
  • The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is multinational effort on the part of countries demonstrating the political will to “open up” and address universal problems that have challenged governments for years (inefficiency, corruption) with a new, fresh conversation.
  • OGP is a microcosm of what countries can do within their own borders; countries themselves need to determine what their “grand challenge” is and how best to address it (national-level or state- or local-level?).
  • Introducing tools of open government takes a lot of time and effort, does not happen overnight, there will be step backwards, but progress is being made (e.g., Publish What You Pay and data.gov).
  • You need to create space for interaction between citizens and government
  • Ultimately open government is trying to create a democratic environment where not just the government is responsible for solving every problem. By creating spaces for engagement you are arming a country against corruption.

What do you wish had been discussed more indepth?
Did they miss anything?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section!

Please see the attached (generalized) transcript for more details from the conversation and the July 12 agenda.

AttachmentSize
Conversations with America_Otero+Krafchik.doc54 KB
Open Government Partnership_July 12 Agenda.pdf295.54 KB
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