The Open Government Partnership (OGP) Partnership is a global multi-stakeholder initiative (MSI) that serves as a collective governance mechanism for national governments and their publics to create commitments towards transparency and accountability reforms and tracks implementation. As in similar global initiatives, members of OGP who are central governments, legislative bodies and/or local governments, voluntarily make collective commitments towards achieving a given goal. OGP is the only global platform working on open and good government matters, including reforms aimed at increasing public access to information, improving good governance, reducing corruption and improving service delivery using new technologies, and engaging the public in public business and processes.
One of the biggest challenges for the Open Government Partnership in 2021 was a lack of sufficient political will and support from decision makers. It became essential for the civil society and OGP Secretariat to take additional measures to intensify the advocacy process.
Open Government Partnership (OGP) officially turns 10 years old in December 2021. In September of 2011 a founding group of heads of state, ministers and civil society leaders came together and set the stage for a new era of openness and transparency by creating an Open Government Partnership. Currently OGP has grown to 78 national members, 76 local members, and thousands of civil society organizations. As of now, the global open government community has co-created over 4,500 concrete reforms with many of those reforms having real impact in citizens’ lives. Past experiences show that the OGP model can be a powerful motivator for reformers, when it is grounded in genuine government-civil society co-creation, high level political commitment, independent accountability and international peer learning.
The crisis caused by Covid-19 pandemic has cast some doubt on the success achieved within the OGP initiative.
Restrictions that were imposed in order to overcome the pandemic crisis, have instead given the governments increased leverage to manage budget funds and have weakened control mechanisms. At the same time, civil society involvement with OGP has also decreased. In order to overcome the post-pandemic crisis and strengthen democratic principles, it is now necessary to revitalize the initiative and civil actors involved in it, and to support the development and implementation of the new action plans. Global Summit in December should serve as a platform for change that will help form new ambitious ideas for the further development of OGP.
The 2021 OGP Global Summit, marking OGP’s 10th anniversary should stimulate the open government community with fresh energy, political commitment, evidence, and support to build a stronger global movement for open governance and democracy.
Main topics to be discussed at the Global Summit are fight against corruption, public procurement openness, local government involvement promotion, beneficiaries’ openness, digital innovation and governance, and increasing of public participation in the decision-making processes.
OGB Global Summit, as one of the largest international events, can offer three distinctive opportunities to OGP stakeholders.
First and foremost, the Summit can contribute to increasing ambition on a domestic level supporting more determined reforms. Within the duration of planned events, OGP stakeholders will share best practices that support the OGP principles and steps towards openness, which in turn will significantly encourage making ambitious commitments and implementing reforms.
Summit alone will certainly not be enough to make 2021 the year where these trends reverse, but it can still play an essential part in the reversal of aforementioned tendencies. Particularly in the post-pandemic era, when the world has to adjust to the new reality and set new standards of transparency and accountability. Recovery from the pandemic and economic crisis while governments pressed for enormous expenditures for COVID-19 stimulus and safety nets in the wake of epidemic and economic crises, accompanied with multiple major credibility concerns and corruption scandals, participatory policymaking and citizen monitoring of public services reached a whole new level.
The upcoming Summit is facing an important challenge to uphold and promote bolder, collective leadership and forge broader coalitions. It is crucial for civil society organizations to have increased desire to be involved in monitoring and decision-making processes and have political will. The OGP Global Summit, with the involvement of states around openness commitments and their citizens, can become a trigger tackling the crisis of democracy, promoting and setting agenda for advancing co-creating innovative reforms for better democracy.
OGP is more effective in countries with a strong civil society coalition. Governments should be encouraged to take co-creation pledges seriously and hold themselves accountable for achieving commitments that ensure priority goals on FOIA, rulemaking, and challenges are met.
Top priority of the Summit discussions should be the reforms making governments more open and engaging citizens and civil society in areas where they have the interest and capacity, empowering them to influence and monitor public services, policies and institutions. Open governance should not be about just governments becoming transparent, but fundamentally about governments working collaboratively with citizens and citizen groups to address common problems. Thus the initiative should move to the new level of implementing and promoting co-creation standards among the member states and actors. COVID-19 Pandemic has taken co-creation necessity to the urgent necessity level, where building trust between ministers, officials and activists has become a crucial component of democratic and transparent governance.
Due to the lack of awareness, majority of citizens have never attended any of the OGP meetings at any level and have not even heard of OGP. Increasing the awareness is in the direct correlation with the production of an active news campaign; however, the role of OGP in political processes is still not regarded as one of the main topics of discussion in mainstream media. If governments and foundations pushed a number of policy and personnel commitments, promoting public involvement at large, the OGP process could still move forward in a healthy, productive fashion in a domestic setting.
Through the development of OGP commitments, digital technology has been a catalyst for opening government and direct citizen engagement. Almost all reforms have a digital element, whether employing digital participation tools to engage in co-creation, using technology to solicit citizen feedback on public services, or applying open governance concepts to online spaces or public sector use of technology such as algorithmic decision-making. It is no longer feasible to approach digital as a distinct industry or theme. Digital is now deeply ingrained in the fabric of our democracies as well as in the public services that we all rely on. Particularly, since the pandemic limitations were enforced, it has become evident that open governance principles are required across the board to ensure digital technologies are protected from exploitation that affects democratic involvement and civic space. The Summit will undoubtedly set new standards for OGP to become a significant platform to form coalitions of those promoting digital rights and governance principles, and policy action.
However, it should be considered that the decision-makers will have to discuss digital threats to democracy such as the insidious spread of disinformation online, illegal surveillance and attacks on citizens’ privacy and OGP’s potential to respond new upcoming threats. Witnessing numerous harsh examples, civil actors should emphasize the need for OGP to safeguard civic freedoms and leverage vibrant civic space instead of restricting access to information, ensuring privacy and etc.
It has been 10 years already since the foundation of Open Government Partnership. Open data disclosure, and applications must provide tangible benefits and a demonstrable influence on corruption for nations and citizens. Transformative commitments such as anti-corruption and open justice are obvious. The summit should press for major reforms that would have an actual transformative impact on global anti-corruption efforts.
We should pay additional attention to the fight against elite corruption. Openness of the beneficial owners is one of the main tools to fight against money laundering and elite corruption, hence the expectation of civil society that parties attending the summit will discuss the importance of openness of the beneficial owners, including in regards to public procurement.
The OGP commitments should be aligned with increasing the capacity of civil society organizations and the general public to raise participation and continue to focus on involvement in decision-making through direct advocacy in legislative bodies and regulatory agencies to hold the government accountable for every decision that affects society.
Implementation of OGP fundamental principles supports the strengthening of the priority areas of other international organizations. The initiative also promotes the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) both on local and global levels. The role of OGP in the fight against global corruption is crucial. Introduction of innovative electronic mechanisms to raise the standard of transparency within the initiative helps to prevent and eliminate corruption risks.
Global scale of the initiative and its synergy with other platforms is one of the most important areas for the development of OGP that should be included as an essential part of the agenda of the summit. Commitments regarding the strengthening of synergy increase the possibilities of OGP members’ capacity to present and implement ambitious initiatives. At the same time, pre-planned synergy activities will increase the possibility and necessity of states’ involvement in other international platforms and initiatives.
To conclude, OGP Global Summit represents a more successful expectation for the year of 2022, especially for civil societies, which is primarily expressed in the development and implementation of OGP plans by governments in regards of strengthening of accountability and transparency in post-Covid world.
It should be mentioned, that due to the previous achievements, Georgia has twice been elected as a member of the OGP Steering Committee - firstly, from 2014 to 2016, and for the second time - through 2019-2022. In addition, Georgia, in 2017 took over the chairmanship of the OGP from France. In July 2018, Georgia hosted the 5th Global Summit of the Open Government Partnership.  Position and progress achieved under the initiative should have obviously become the basis for taking significant steps towards more ambitious commitments and openness.
Despite the fact that since joining the OGP global platform Georgia has been exceptionally active both on governmental and legislative and local levels, there has been a clear crisis for the open governance process since 2018. From 2018 to this day, there was a positive change in regards of a new format based on the good practice of cooperation between civil society and the government – the Open Government Inter-Agency Coordination Council being established and coordinative rights being transferred to the Government Administration. However, as of today, open government process in Georgia has been almost fully suspended. Georgia thwarted an entire Action Plan cycle, and the country has not planned or implemented a single OGP reform in two years. 
As a result, due to the inactivity from the Government of Georgia, within its membership of the OGP Steering Committee, is crudely violating the principles envisaged by the Open Government Declaration as well as OGP values. It is unfortunate that the suspended process negatively affects Georgia’s reputation as a member of Steering Committee, because Georgia will have nothing to present at the Open Government Summit scheduled for December 13-17, 2021.
It is our hope that the new standards discussed at the 2021 Global Summit of the OGP in cooperation, activism and involvement of government agencies and civil society will become a basis for restoring the open governance process and overcoming the crisis in Georgia.
 „Regress of the Government of Georgia towards Implementation of OGP Principles”, https://idfi.ge/ge/regress-of-the-government-of-georgia-towards-implementation-of-ogp-principles
 “NGO Statement: Suspended Process of Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Georgia”, https://idfi.ge/ge/ngos_joint_statement_937352
This material has been financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. Responsibility for the content rests entirely with the creator. Sida does not necessarily share the expressed views and interpretations.
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