Press release

UK welcomes new countries to the Open Government Partnership

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Tim Berners-Lee and Francis Maude welcome 8 new countries to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at a meeting in London.

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CAB 041-13

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, will join Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude as he welcomes new countries to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at a meeting of the global initiative in London today.

The UK, current lead co-chair of the OGP, and the organisation’s seven other founding countries, will listen to action plans from eight new participants for increasing transparency to fight corruption and encourage growth. The new countries are Argentina, Costa Rica, Finland, Hungary, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, and Liberia.

At the OGP Ministerial Steering Committee meeting, government and civil society representatives will discuss a new strategy for delivering the commitments in national action plans. They will also look at progress on measures to sharpen accountability, including discussion of countries’ action plan commitments. Over the coming months, these will be scrutinised by a high-powered International Expert Panel on which former Irish President Mary Robinson, Sudanese-born British entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim and Mozambican politician Graça Machel are senior advisers.

Francis Maude, who will chair the meeting, said:

In just 18 months, the OGP has grown into a global movement of 58 countries. Now we must cement the credibility of the OGP as an international force for change by deepening engagement with existing participants and turning promises into actions.

Transparency is a tool for reformers all over the world. The best way to make the OGP transparency message stick and encourage more countries to join, is to show how openness empowers citizens and improves their lives; and to make ourselves accountable if we fail to live up to our promises. Once people see the advantages of transparency, the democratic impetus for open government will be irresistible, and there will be no turning back.

Video of speeches by Francis Maude and Tim Berners-Lee

Watch a video of the speeches made by Francis Maude and Tim Berners-Lee.

The OGP is encouraging the adoption of open data initiatives in participating countries. At a reception for the OGP today, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, will launch the first in-depth study of how open data can be harnessed to foster better governance and provide better services in developing countries.

‘Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries’ (ODDC) grew out of discussions at the OGP in April 2012; and a progress report will be given at the OGP summit in London in October.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee said:

Open data, accessed via a free and open web, has the potential to create a better world. However, best practice in London or New York is not best practice in Lima or Nairobi. The World Wide Web Foundation’s research will help to ensure that open data initiatives in the developing world will unlock real improvements in citizens’ day-to-day lives. It was at the OGP plenary in Brasilia last April that the ODDC project was born. It is fitting that, just 12 months on, we are here in London to launch our initiative at another milestone OGP event.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

The UK is a world leader in transparency and we want to be the most transparent government in the world. We are also committed to helping other countries share in the benefits of transparency by increasing participation and exchanging information on openness initiatives through the OGP. An understanding of the potential of open data to sharpen accountability, fuel economic growth and prosperity, and improve public services is an important part of this.

Notes to editors

The Open Government Partnership

The Open Government Partnership was formally launched in September 2011 by the 8 founding governments (United Kingdom, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United States). In just 18 months, the OGP has grown to a membership of 58 countries, or nearly a third of the world population.

The OGP is a multilateral initiative which aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The UK’s drive for greater international transparency will help to promote and deliver the ‘golden thread’ of development and support the UK’s joint leadership of the post-Millennium Development Goals high- level panel and presidency of the G8 this year.

The UK took up the role of ‘lead’ co-chair, alongside co-chair Indonesia, in September 2012. Read the UK’s vision for its year as lead chair.

The OGP co-chairs provide strategic leadership to the initiative, convene the steering committee as necessary, facilitate proposals on relevant policy/governance issues, and conduct outreach on behalf of OGP with governments, civil society, the private sector, donors and the media.

The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM)

The OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) is a key means by which all stakeholders can track progress and impact among OGP participating governments, as well as promote strong accountability between member governments and citizens. In addition to ongoing cooperation and collaboration between governments and civil society, the IRM serves a key role in ensuring the continued credibility and legitimacy of OGP.

IRM reports will be undertaken every 12 months for participating countries. Each IRM report will be published no later than four months after the implementation period being assessed. The first round of reports examining action plans from each founding government will be concluded in May 2013. The IRM will be overseen by an eight-member International Expert Panel (IEP), made up of five policy or technical experts and three senior advisors. The technical experts will play a direct role in overseeing the quality control process for IRM report production, including reviewing and approving final reports for publication.

Over the last two years, the UK government has released key new data on health, education, justice and transport, publishing and updating more than 9,000 datasets. Every department made specific new open data commitments as part of its business plan for the first time last year.

The UK recently topped the EU PSI scoreboard – a tool to measure the status of Open Data and Public Sector Information (PSI) in the EU. You can see the Scoreboard here and download the supporting data here.

The World Wide Web Foundation

Established by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web Foundation is a non-profit organisation devoted to achieving a world in which all people can use the Web to communicate, collaborate and innovate freely.

The ODDC Project

‘Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries’ (ODDC) will assess how access to large-scale datasets can contribute to more accountable public spending, better urban governance and better sanitation and education, among other topics.

Further details on the project are available from the Open Data Research Network website or on Twitter @odrnetwork.

Transparency

Transparency is a key component of the UK government’s public services reform agenda and of its programme of support for economic and social growth. Find out about the government’s transparency programme.

You can stay in touch with government activity on transparency and open public data at http:// www.data.gov.uk. Follow the conversation on Twitter:

Published 25 April 2013
Last updated 2 May 2013 + full page history
  1. Added translation
  2. Added link to video of speeches by Francis Maude and Tim Berners-Lee
  3. First published.