Mini-briefing on the Open Government Partnership

The OGP was launched at last month’s UN General Assembly to a good deal of buzz in the gov 2.0 world. It seems to be part of, or hosted by, the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, another Soros venture.

Essentially, it’s a well-meaning anti-corruption, pro-openness platform between some of the nations leading on open government: publishing data (not just numbers) and doing innovative things with it. Or allowing citizens to do interesting things with it. Brazil and the US led the project.

Here’s an explanation in splendid socialmedialand format:

The Open Government Declaration that nations can sign up to is just that, a declaration, but by promoting examples like these….

We commit to increasing our efforts to systematically collect and publish data…We commit to pro-actively provide high-value information, including raw data, in a timely manner, in formats that the public can easily locate, understand and use, and in formats that facilitate reuse.

We commit to maintaining or establishing a legal framework to make public information on the income and assets of national, high ranking public officials.

We commit to making policy formulation and decision making more transparent, creating and using channels to solicit public feedback, and deepening public participation in developing, monitoring and evaluating government activities.

…the founding nations hope to cajole plenty more into joining them. It’s an interesting start. The examples above are just a few lines from a fairly vast, all-encompassing list that reads a little bit like somebody put together in one place all the government transparency ideas they could find. Which might not be a bad thing.

Now, how about more of the same, but for the United Nations itself?

In the blogosphere:

David Eaves has argued that this ‘openness’ idea could be a sign of ‘open’ states raising the bar in governance:

It abandons the now outdated free-market/democratic vs. state-controlled/communist axis in favour of a more subtle, but more appropriate, open vs. closed…I like the idea of world in which states compete to be more open. We could do worse.

The Economist blogged a response:

The problem with Mr Eaves’ argument isn’t that it’s necessarily wrong as such. The OGP would definitely be in line with an overall strategy to promote Western democratic values and provoke people in other countries to demand more of them…

No, the problem is that this is really nothing new or major…

Countries can join the list if they demonstrate that they meet certain “minimum standards of open government”—”minimum” clearly being the operative word.

The Economist also included a broad overview of the whole project, including strengths and weaknesses, in their print edition.

One simple test of effectiveness: is anybody still talking about this in a year’s time?

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