Open Data Charter

Jul 29, 2020

7 min read

Combating corruption as a community

Lessons from applying global data norms to government dynamics

Photo by Thor Alvis on Unsplash
  • Broadening our focus, from the 4 target countries to relevant experiences of success and failure in designing and implementing OD4AC OGP commitments across a wider range of countries, while paying close attention to the partners we have been working with, and providing more opportunities to these partners to have a voice in the tools and guidance that we hope can enable their work.
  • Strengthening the bottom-up approach of our project, paying special attention to where political, technical, and logistical challenges in the formulation of OGP commitments come from, how country-level champions try to overcome those challenges, and whether and how the support they receive from global partners helps them to actually overcome those challenges.
  • Increasing our collaboration with global partners (including OGP) to learn from their experiences and work closely with them. We expect to collaboratively develop tools and guidance that can effectively enable local partners to appropriate and use global recommendations to drive relevant reforms that go beyond transparency and can actually lead to stronger democracies that deliver inclusion, accountability and development results.

Covid-19 and emerging findings

The open government, anti-corruption, and open data communities have been active in developing guidance, producing reports and launching initiatives to inform the work of country-level partners across the world trying to react to the COVID 19 pandemic and push for relevant reforms that can position countries better for the recovery. One such work is the open response + open recovery initiative led by OGP, which includes recommendations and guidance on relevant issues such as anti-corruption, civic space, justice, fiscal openness, and extractives industries. These recommendations (alongside others by WB, OECD, etc.) are meant to inform government action and inspire fruitful dialogue among local open government champions.

  • Despite relevant guidance on how to formulate problems and write commitments, country-level champions face challenges in using this guidance to frame issues in a way that can enable them to get active collaboration and engagement beyond MSF members and achieve the ideal of starred commitments.
  • The open government agenda does not always resonate with other relevant stakeholders, in government and civil society, which often leads to OGP processes that are not sufficiently articulated with relevant social demands and mobilization. This dynamic is made even harder to overcome due to the challenges posed by social distancing.
  • Oftentimes transparency tools take priority over governance reform processes that are needed to address local problems (i.e. revising sectoral data governance, data infrastructure, anti-corruption legislation, etc). In many cases, these transparency tools are seen as isolated products not aligned with local political and technical dynamics
  • Other times, transparency tools and participatory processes are prioritized over relevant reforms that can deliver greater dividends and are in line with the open government agenda and have the potential to be transformative.

Our plans to address this challenge

OGP’s relevance is greater now than ever, and our work as promoting the Open Government agenda should go further, ensuring that these platforms transform the realities in the ground and truly deliver on their potential to fight corruption, make participation in public matters real, and ensure the inclusion of all in the processes and results that will help us recover from these challenging times.

  • A set of guiding questions and illustrative commitment on how to develop targeted and actionable OGP commitments for OD4AC, and
  • a tactics playbook that reformers can use as a compass to bring about transformation in their contexts that go beyond transparency for transparency’s sake.

The path forward

Crises like this pandemic is an opportunity for democratic reforms. In order to deliver these, we must make sure to revise our assumptions, learn, and adapt to support those OGP champions in the frontlines. We hope to influence how global partners work in open data, anti-corruption, and beyond, as well as provide more effective and useful support to their partners. We are currently expanding our work by reaching out to more countries, testing our tools, and collaborating with the Open Contracting Partnership to develop the guiding questions. Once the tool is developed, we hope to reach out to other partners and seek their feedback.

Collaborating with governments and organisations to open up data for pay parity, climate action and combatting corruption.

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