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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Open Government Partnership: Australia on notice to follow through on membership

Toby McIntosh on in Washington DC did some sleuthing to identify the unnamed country referred to in the Open Government Steering Committee minutes of its July meeting- and it's Australia
Australia’s lack of action as a member of the Open Government Partnership is “particularly concerning,” the OGP Steering Committee decided at a recent meeting.
The Steering Committee set a new deadline for Australia “to recommit to OGP,” according to recently released minutes of the July 22-23 meeting. (See this page on the OGP website, scroll down.)
After two years as a member, Australia has yet to prepare a National Action Plan, the key component of participation in the OGP in which members make specific commitments on how to advance open government.
Australia, which joined in May of 2013, should have created its first action plan by May of 2014, according to an OGP chart. The submission of a plan is followed by other steps, including a one-year self-evaluation and then an assessment through the OGP Independent Review Mechanism.
Australia was given until the upcoming October OGP Global Summit meeting in Mexico to “recommit.”
The Australian version of course is that the Abbott Government is still 'considering' whether to proceed with Labor's announcement in May 2013 that it intended to join. 

This letter in  August 2014 to the Minister for Finance made it clear the Prime Minister is a key part of the decision tree, instructing that no announcement of Australia's position should be made "until a draft national action plan is submitted for my consideration..."   

A year on in the public domain at least, silence.

Russia is the only country to withdraw from the OGP. Sixty five others are members including all we usually cite as the peer group - USA, UK, Canada, NZ- every country ranked ahead of Australia on the Worldwide Web Foundation Open Government Index, and in our region the current co-chair Indonesia, along with Korea and the Philippines.

McIntosh provides this further background on the laggards
Lithuania, Malta and Turkey were the first members to get a notice about missed deadlines. In February of 2014, the OGP issuing a public statement saying that  reports that there was “little evidence” that the countries’ action plan commitments were being fulfilled. (See previous report.)
Under a revised OGP policy approved in March of 2014, two warnings in a row would trigger a discussion about continued OGP membership – the sanction that the organization, founded on inclusion, voluntary goal-setting and mutual support, hopes to avoid. A country will be in breach if it does not publish a NAP within 4 months of the due date. (See previous article.)
The OGP in August of 2014 has made public 11 letters sent in April informing member governments they were not in compliance with their OGP commitments. (See previous
In December of 2014 the OGP cautioned 12 governments that they were falling behind on their OGP responsibilities, announcing the action in a blog post with links to the letters). (See report.)

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