Working together for open government

ogpWe’ve recently done quite a lot of work with the Open Government Partnership (OGP). I wanted to take some time to explain to you all in this blog exactly what the OGP is and what it has to do with Compact Voice.

The OGP is a network made up of countries that are committed to making their governments more open, accountable and responsive.

It was launched in 2011 with just 8 countries involved - and this has now grown to 62.

All participating countries work to develop ambitious plans that will lead to increased accountability and transparency both at home and abroad.

At the core of the OGP is the principle of government and civil society working together in order to create a government that becomes more sustainable and responsive to its society’s needs – something very much at the heart of the Compact way of working.

This aim will be achieved through opening up governments – making decisions and data available for scrutiny, and encouraging them to engage in genuine dialogue and collaboration with their citizens. This will ultimately improve governance and the quality of services people receive.  

The UK Government have often talked of their commitment for the UK to become ‘the most open and transparent government in the world’ and this resulted in government forming a partnership with civil society to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) for the OGP.

Compact Voice was first contacted by the Cabinet Office back in June this year, when they sought our views on the first draft of the NAP, and invited us to join the other voluntary and community sector organisations working with them to develop the plan.

This group of organisations from the voluntary and community sector are called the Civil Society Network, and we have worked closely with government since to develop the Plan.

The NAP was unveiled at the Open Government Partnership Summit at the beginning of November. I was able to attend to see key speakers, such as David Cameron and Francis Maude, reiterate their commitment to open government.

By being part of the Civil Society Network, Compact Voice were able to make sure the Compact was embedded in the NAP. It makes reference to Compact principles throughout, particularly Principle 2 which outlines the need for effective and transparent design and developments of policies, programmes and public services.

The National Action Plan has 5 themes:

  • Open data – radically opening up government data for greater accountability, public service improvement and economic growth
  • Government integrity – fighting corruption and strengthening democracy through transparent government
  • Fiscal transparency – helping citizens to follow the money
  • Empowering citizens – transforming the relationship between citizens and governments
  • Natural resource transparency – ensuring natural resources and extractive revenues are used for public benefit

The Plan details the progress made to date for each of the above themes, and outlines new commitments and timelines.

The organisations and groups from civil society who worked on the plan, including Compact Voice, have all helped to develop and agree the commitments. Compact Voice is supporting 4 of these commitments, concerning data transparency, open contracting, open policy making and the publishing of draft legislation.

Compact Voice is continuing to work with the Cabinet Office and the Civil Society Network in order to promote the NAP and work toward the commitments it supports.

We believe that the process of developing the Plan has opened up dialogue between government and civil society and has resulted in stronger partnership working and increased collaboration.

Interested in finding out more? Visit the OGP website, and view the National Action Plan.

- Rachel Wharton, Compact Voice Research Assistant

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