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OGP Posts Updates From Some Member Countries

Source: freedominfo.org

Date: 7 February 2012

The Open Government Partnership has begun posting updates from member countries about the progress they are making on their national action plans.

The OGP announcement Feb. 2 said 19 updates had been received, but not all of them were available on the OGP website as of Feb. 3. More are expected.

In most cases, the updates describe consultations with civil society to develop the action plans and some indicate the general direction of their efforts.

Draft plans appear to have been prepared only in Albania, Israel, and Slovakia.  Proposed plans are nearly ready in Armenia and Moldova.

Forty-two OGP member countries are in the process of preparing their action plans for an April 9 deadline in advance of an April 16-18 OGP meeting in Brazil. (The eight founding members have already prepared their plans and two other countries, Costa Rica and Panama, have joined only in the past few weeks, bringing total membership to 52.) The terms of membership established by the OGP stress the need for publicized public consultations, but does not suggest release of a draft plan.

The update reports were due Jan. 31.  Nineteen were submitted by the deadline, and more are expected.  However, only nine updates were available online by mid-day Jan. 3.  In this list, linked names show which countries’ reports are available:

Albania, Armenia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Korea, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Slovakia, Peru, Ukraine and Uruguay.

The updates can be viewed on OGP website under “Participating Countries” and appear on each OGP country page under “Efforts to Date” or “Related files.”

Also new on the website for some countries are names of officials to contact and their email addresses.

Israel Submits Draft Plan

Israel submitted a 12-page draft action plan, also indicating it has held forums to develop it.

The plan includes:

- Establishing a unit to develop guidelines for governmental customer service, determining standards and developing central projects for improvement.

- Establishing a national information technology (IT) unit headed by a government CIO.

- Online catalog of government services.

- Creating a government Contact Center.

- Creating an inter-office committee for improving business processes, such as shrinking the time involved in setting up a business.

- Developing technology infrastructure for providing government services.

- Establishing a unit for freedom of information in the Ministry of Justice.

- Widening public exposure to the processes of planning and establishing policy.

- Publicizing information and datasets that are of importance to the public in order to allow private initiatives, which will develop applications for the benefit of the public.

-Establishing a system of measurement and review, and publicizing a report of government service to the public.

- Publication of work plans in government offices.

- Promoting a Website for the open budget.

- Establishing a cross-sector forum that promotes Open Government programs.

Slovakia Working in Three Areas

Slovakia’s commitments include four broad areas: transparency, civic participation, accountability and new technologies. The update describes the action plan as being in three thematic sections: Open to information, Open to dialogue and Open to transparency.

Plans creation of the open data portal and improvement of already existing central registry of contracts. It envisions testing different models of participation in policy making. Creation of the new system of electronic petitions is contemplated. Legislation to protect whistleblowers is mentioned.

An advisory group on the OGP initiative in Slovakia consisting of ten leading experts from the public administration and non-governmental sector was created in November 2011. It has met twice, with two more meetings scheduled until April 2012. The Advisory Group assisted in designing the process of the public consultation and made comments regarding the content of the draft of the Action plan. Regional workshops with relevant stakeholders were held in January 2012. The participants had the opportunity to comment on the first draft of the Action plan.Online consultations were promoted on a new website http://www.otvorenavlada.gov.sk/, dedicated to OGP. A draft of the Action plan was made available on the website, with the possibility of uploading the comments to individual sections of the plan. Currently, a second round for commenting is under way. A campaign in the social media was also conducted in order to promote the website and stimulate the discussion about the action plan.

The update also discussed plans for approval of the plan, likely in mid-February, in light of complications presented by the March general elections.

Albania Details Goals

Albania indicates that it established an Inter-Ministerial Working Group (IWG) to draft a plan and that also created was a Technical Working Group (TWG) with experts, directors or specialists levels, from all ministries and all institutions participating in this group.

The first meeting of the IWG was held end of January to discuss the first draft of OGP Action Plan. “IWG is preparing an acknowledgment and awareness meeting with Non Profit or Non Governmental Organizations operating in Albania related to this matter. The meeting is expected to occur within the first two weeks of February 2012.”

“Some of the Albanian Government initiatives for Open Government, since the establishment of the IWG can be mentioned:

  • Some of ministries will publish in their websites a link dedicated to the OGP initiative and Albania’s commitments; 
  • The Ministry of Finance published online in the Treasury website, all expenses incurred during a day. This example is to be followed by all ministries and their subordinate agencies.
  • Any act of central administration, concerning control and audit, will be published in the official website of each central institution. 
  • Digitalization of State Exam tests;
  • Establishment of an Electronic System Management Information (EMIS) in undergraduate and graduate education; 
  • Establishment of an Electronic Management System of State Matura and admissions to universities;
  • Digitalization of diploma matriculation (State Matura and University Degrees);
  • A medication list prices is published on the Ministry of Health’s website along with a basic package of primary health services; 
  • All type of contracts for each type of health institution with appropriate services are posted in the website of the Institute for Health Care Insurance;
  • Installation of electronic system in all court records;
  • Digitalization of notaries records ;
  • Online access on the Property Register; 
  • Digitalizing the National Inspection System;
  • Establishment of the online auction system; 
  • Digitalization of customs and taxation system including interactive websites that allow taxpayers to make all transactions online:
  • The establishment of electronic system to monitor effectively the customs during duty;
  • Online publication of complaints/reports;
  • A Facebook profile  “OGP Albania” is launched

Korea Looks to `Next Generation’

The Korean update indicates that of the five PGP “Grand Challenges” it has chosen to work on “Improving Government Services.”

[The OGP listed five Grand Challenges : Improving Public Services, Increasing Public Integrity, More Effectively Managing Public Resources, Creating Safer Communities and Increasing Corporate Accountability.]

Korea said its goal is “to improve the quality of public services through active communication between government and civil society.” The update primarily recounts existing efforts such as an online civil society portal (www.minwon.go.kr) “for the citizens to request and obtain information and to review and issue civil petitions.”

Korea sais it is considering “the next generation strategy to keep abreast with the rapidly changing mobile paradigm brought upon by the spread of smartphones, tablet PCs and so on.”

Armenia Expects Draft Plan Soon

The Armenian submission indicates that its planned commitments “are focused on a) increasing public integrity through fostering e-governance, combatting corruption and promoting accountability in the public sector; b) effective management of public resources through improving internal and external audit system for the public sector and improving procurement procedures; c) improvement of public services through improving the education policy.”

It notes consultation efforts completed and the creation of an inter-agency working group of experts. The first formal meeting of the government officials and civil society representatives will be convened on Feb. 8. “It is envisaged to finalize the draft Action Plan by the end of February and to make it available online to allow wider public consultations and discussions.”

Canada Describes Consultations

Canada describes past and current open government activities and its OGP consultation efforts.

“From December 6, 2011, to January 16, 2012, Canadian citizens and civil society organizations were invited to participate in an online consultation on current and potential open government activities. Ideas and insights gleaned through this consultation will inform the development of Canada’s commitments on open government. On December 15, 2011, the Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, fielded questions from individual Canadians during the Government of Canada’s very first Twitter Town Hall. Two sessions (one each for English- and French-speaking Canadians) provided participants an additional opportunity to make their views known on how to advance open government in Canada.”

“Other engagement activities to support development of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government by April 2012 include additional consultations with organizations and key members of civil society, and further multi-jurisdictional conversations at the sub-national level. A final report on public consultations on Open Government will be made available via the open.gc.ca site in March 2012.”

A pan-government steering committee on Open Government is focusing on three main grand challenges: improving public services, increasing public integrity, and more effectively managing public resources.

“To address these grand challenges, a range of potential commitments are being assessed, including efforts to drive innovation and socio-economic benefits by improving access to government data and information, removing barriers to its use and reuse, and engaging Canadians to participate in the activities of their government.”

Malta Focusing at Environment, Fraud

Malta will be focusing the two grand challenges centering about the “Creating a Safer Communities” and “Increasing Corporate Accountability.”

“Since the Government commitment to work upon the chosen two challenges, various meetings were held between the various Civil Society organisations and the Ministry responsible for this OGP initiative. During these meetings, there was an agreement on an action plan and also a serious of initiatives /proposals were highlighted. A meeting with high officials of the American Embassy in Malta was held whereby the initiatives carried out so far and the visions for further initiatives were amply discussed.  It was agreed that towards the end of February 2012 a conference will be held with the participation of the Civil Society so as to finalize the initiatives. Following this conference, meetings with the Government entities will be held so as to implement the agreed initiatives. A final road map of initiatives is earmarked to be concluded by coming April.”

The proposals under consideration do not appear directly related to transparency. Malta’s update continued:

As initiatives for having safer communities, one is looking into the environment such as having Cleaner Beaches and safe bathing. Other environmental measures to take on board include further investment in alternative energy and an afforestation programme. The programme which is in place for the creation of safer recreational spaces, such as the Garigue Heritage Park and Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park and by creating safer playgrounds, should be extended. Existing playgrounds are to continue to be inspected to comply with safety standards, with non-compliant ones being closed and upgraded.

In the area of Public Accountability, curbing Tax evasion and Social Benefit Fraud is an ongoing fight with more on-site investigations being carried out. The estimated annual savings for 2009 was almost 3.8 million Euros. Institutional measures that should be looked at to strengthen the fight against such Fraud include the amalgamation of the Inland Revenue Department, Customs and the Vat Department. The above initiatives and proposals are just provisional and further meetings are planned to arrive at a concrete proposal.

Moldova Draft Plan Almost Ready

Moldova reported having has launched the process of public consultations in December when the E-Government Center initiated a dialogue with the civil society regarding the action plan and encouraged its active participation in the consultation process.

“On January 31, the E-Government Center will present the first draft of the action plan to the civil society for consultations. Starting with February, the Government will consult with separate NGOs directly to ensure collection of necessary feedback. In parallel, there is an ongoing process of consultation within the Ministries and other public institutions on their efforts up to date and their individual commitments. Additionally, the first draft of the action plan will be posted online for citizens to comment, suggest and propose actions for the government. The Government of Moldova will ensure transparency of the OGP action plan public consultations and will provide the platform for anyone to voice his opinion regarding government commitments.”

“In the month of February, the Government will actively promote the consultations regarding the OGP action plan in order to have a final draft ready in March. Additionally, the Government of Moldova plans to consult on similar issues and commitments with other governments through the OGP Networking Mechanism. These efforts will ensure an on time development of a comprehensive action plan and its presentation at the annual OGP conference in April.”

Ukraine Lauds Civic Partnership

Ukraine reports that an OGP Civic Partnership consists of 47 NGOs and 13 individual members. The activity of the Partnership is supported by 11 national experts from famous Ukrainian think tanks.

The main priorities of the OGP Civic Partnership are:
1. To develop an agreed-upon, public version of a National Action Plan, and to advocate for the plan and its implementation at the level of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine,
2. To assist the organization of broad public consultations to discuss the draft National Action Plan for the OGP initiative,
3. To inform key target groups about the OGP initiative, including interested international organizations.

On Dec. 28, “our Civic Partnership experts delivered their proposals on the OGP National Plan Draft to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine and Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.”

“Currently, the government is studying its capacity to incorporate these proposals.” The update indicates that there is an English version of the proposals in an annex to the update, but it is not on the OGP website.

The update describes future plans.