Update on the Open Government Partnership

Update on the Open Government Partnership

14 August 2014

The Trust has been busy raising the profile of the Open Government Partnership during the last few months. Paul Braithwaite explains what is coming up.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched in 2011 to provide an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable and responsive to citizens. Since then, it has grown from 8 countries to 63 participating countries.

In all of these countries, government and civil society are working together to develop and implement ambitious open government reforms.

OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

Over the spring and summer the Trust has been raising awareness of OGP amongst the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector and broader society.

We have done this through a series of activities and events, including a seminar in May which looked at the potential implementation in Northern Ireland.

Our action culminated in the establishment of a working group in early June which consisted of committed individual activists and representatives of VCSE organisations.

The group asked the Trust to commission research into the potential for OGP in Northern Ireland and we have since appointed Peter Osborne, an experienced researcher with an in depth knowledge of the inner workings of government here, to get a sense of the priority issues.

Peter has experience in a number of public service roles, including as former Chairperson of the Parades Commission, and he will be surveying and talking to people in the VCSE sector, civil servants and politicians to establish what potential there is for a partnership to progress open government in Northern Ireland.

He will also be finding out which departments are already implementing or planning actions that could contribute to this. 

Some examples of issues falling under the open government umbrella that may have relevance to Northern Ireland include: 

  • Open data – making government-owned data available to the general public for greater transparency and to enable citizens to drive improvements to public services.
  • Open policy making – proactively and creatively involving citizens in the policy making process.
  • Freedom of Information – is the current legislation adequate and is it being followed?
  • Political party financing – is there sufficient transparency and how does NI compare to other regions?
  • Local government – will the new councils have greater provisions for openness, transparency and citizen participation?
  • Reform of the political institutions – to make them more accessible and accountable to the general public e.g. through an online public petitioning system.
  • Open contracting – greater public scrutiny and oversight of the ways in which the government awards contracts. 

If you would like to hear more about the Trust’s work on open government, or would like to contribute to the research, please contact Paul Braithwaite

The research will be completed and published in September with a date for a launch and public seminar to be confirmed.