The Open Government Partnership offers a way forward for national governments and civil society to work together on reforms. Development partners are in a unique position to connect the dots among international donors, national governments, and civil society.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative launched in 2011 which supports countries in consulting with local civil society to develop national action plans which focus on commitments to reforms that strengthen governance by promoting transparency, empowering citizens, and fighting corruption. The annual OGP Summit in Tbilisi, Georgia, which took place on July 17-19, 2018, brought together representatives from 70 OGP participating countries, as well as those countries who are in the process of meeting the criteria to join. One of the remaining questions from this year’s Summit was how we connect the work of international development implementers with the work of OGP. As an implementer, we have some ideas.
OGP Action Plans Support USAID’s Journey to Self-Reliance Strategy
The concept of OGP (a national action plan developed and driven by the country) goes hand-in-hand with USAID’s journey to self-reliance, which focuses U.S. assistance and partnerships on supporting countries to increase their ability to plan, finance, and implement solutions to their own development challenges. During the 2018 OGP Summit in Tbilisi, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Europe and Eurasia Alexander Sokolowski emphasized that buy-in from governments and civil society, as well as a focus on the sustainability of reforms, are crucial elements of success for both the OGP country action plans and USAID’s self-reliance strategy. USAID’s self-reliance metrics focus on commitment (the degree to which a country’s laws, policies, actions, and informal governance mechanisms support self-reliance) and capacity (progress in political, social, and economic development). Countries’ national action plans and their progress towards achieving them are helpful tools for USAID to reference when attempting to understand national priorities (particularly related to open governance), as well as areas in which capacity-building support is needed to fulfill those commitments.
Implementers are Already Key Conveners of OGP Stakeholders – Here’s How we can Connect the Dots
While OGP’s strength is that every national action plan is created and driven by the participating country, a weakness is lack of financial support and technical assistance to support action plan implementation. USAID partners like Chemonics and others may not be an obvious link in the OGP framework, but our projects have critical relationships with government counterparts and civil society organizations – oftentimes working directly with the marginalized populations in which OGP needs to more effectively engage – enabling us to act as key conveners of these groups and identify overlap and opportunities for collaboration between OGP country-level action plan efforts and our project activities. Here’s how: