Toward A More Open Government

This week, Ambassador Samantha Power will join more than 1,900 representatives from fields of government, civil society, and business at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit in Mexico City. The OGP, was founded in 2011 by President Obama and eight other world leaders  -- from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, and United Kingdom -- with the common goal of promoting transparency, fighting corruption, strengthening accountability, and empowering citizens.

Over the past four years, the partnership has significantly grown from just eight countries to 66 participating countries and a global roundtable of government reformers, civil society leaders, academia and business innovators. Through OGP governments around the world have made more than 2,000 open government commitments, many of which are having a real impact: 49 countries have made data more open, 42 countries have improved access to information, and 49 countries have made budgets more transparent.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a meeting on the Open Government Partnership at the United Nations in New York, NY, September 24, 2014 [Official White House Photo by Pete Souza]

Throughout the Summit participants will share experiences from their respective countries and provide real examples of how openness can improve public services, drive economic growth, reduce poverty and make governments more accountable to the people they serve.  

Following the recent adoption of 17 new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this year’s Summit will discuss the role open government can play in the implementation of the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda. Good governance and partnership with civil society will be key to the success of the SDGs over the next 15 years, which include ambitious objectives like reducing poverty, achieving gender equality, eradicating human trafficking, and improving education worldwide. 

Since the launch of the OGP in 2011, the United States has developed two National Action Plans (NAP) to encourage US agencies and offices to increase transparency and openness. Past NAPs have spurred such movements as the “We the People” petition platform at WhiteHouse.gov. 

“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and efffectiveness in government.” - President Barack Obama. Learn more.

As a member of the OGP and with the desire to spread this impactful tool, the White House made the source code for “We the People” available to any government around the world that sought to solicit and respond to the concerns of their public. The current NAP, issued in 2013, features 23 commitments categorized into three themes: open government to increase public integrity, open government to manage resources more effectively, and open government to improve public services. These 23 goals will sunset at the end of 2015 and continue to be diligently addressed around the federal government. The third NAP is currently in development, continuing efforts towards current goals and setting new, ambitious targets.    

While the United States has fulfilled many of our OGP goals under President Obama’s leadership, we will continue to work with our counterparts in civil society, academia, and business to ensure we are as transparent and open as we can and should be. The upcoming summit in Mexico will be a tremendous opportunity to hear from other nations on their progress and learn from counterparts on how to build upon this movement. 

If you have ideas for open government, share them by emailing opengov@ostp.gov or by sending a tweet to @OpenGov. The government’s progress towards transparency and openness is only as strong as the civil society, government reformers, academia, and businesses that help develop methods and hold the government accountable to its goals.

About the Author: Caroline Weisser is the Digital Director at the United States Mission to the United Nations in New York.

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A man walks towards the National Palace on Mexico's main Zocalo plaza in Mexico City
Posted by Caroline Weisser
October 27, 2015

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