Press release

World figures to help OGP “hold governments’ feet to the fire”

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

Ahead of the first meeting of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in London on 4 December, the initiative has named its expert advisers.

1 December 2012

As the UK prepares to host the first meeting of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in London on 4 December, the initiative has named the distinguished senior advisers on the expert panel who will advise whether members are living up to their transparency commitments.

Next week’s meeting of the OGP Ministerial Steering Committee will confirm the appointment of former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Sudanese-born British entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim, and Graça Machel, the Mozambican politician, as the three senior advisers on the eight-member International Expert Panel (IEP).

The expert panel will oversee the work of the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) being introduced to rigorously monitor the progress of participating countries against their action plans. It will also examine the impact of their transparency policies, publishing annual independent assessment reports for each country. 

The United Kingdom is currently lead chair of the Open Government Partnership and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who will chair the meeting on 4 December, said:

The Open Government Partnership is all about using transparency to drive sharper accountability and greater prosperity. That’s why the launch of the Independent Reporting Mechanism, backed by civil society and the media, is so important. It will help ensure that Partnership members actually deliver the transparency commitments they have made. The media here in Britain and internationally has a key role to play in holding the feet of government officials and ministers to the fire.

The United Kingdom was a founding member of the partnership and it is a tribute to its growing importance as an international force for change that three such distinguished and experienced figures are joining this panel.

The Steering Committee meeting will also hear updates on participating country action plans; and decide how the OGP can engage with other multilateral organisations, like the World Bank and the OECD, to share expertise and resource. This will be the first time that multilaterals have formally supported an international organisation of this kind.

Also on 4 December, the UK will fulfil a commitment under its own transparency action plan with the official opening of the Open Data Institute. The Institute’s founders Sir Tim Berners-Lee - inventor of the worldwide web - and Professor Nigel Shadbolt have assembled an impressive team to help government and business identify commercially valuable public data, nurture innovative data-driven start-ups, and support both the public and private sectors so they can work effectively with open data.

Francis Maude, who will formally open the ODI, said:

A belief in the power of open data to drive economic growth and create prosperity is central to our commitment to transparency. The Open Data Institute - the first organisation of its kind in the world - is already helping to foster a new generation of innovative businesses built on this 21st-century raw material, and to develop the specialist skills among data technologists that will see the creation of new products and services. We will work with the ODI to make data more readily available and accessible, maximise its potential for stimulating growth, and further cement the UK’s position as an international leader in open data.

In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last year, the government committed to releasing key open datasets on health, transport, weather and welfare. To date, open data releases include real-time public transport data; and information on prescribing by GP surgeries; while, for the first time, the government has permitted hospital treatment outcomes to be linked to data on GP referrals.

Francis Maude said:

On the eve of this year’s Autumn Statement, we are already seeing the development of British technology businesses that have tapped into these datasets.

Overall, the government has published almost 9,000 datasets so far, and a number of data-driven start-ups are already working with the ODI at its East London base.

Notes to editors

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

2. 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 next year.

3. 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. 

4. The UK took up the role of “senior” co-chair, alongside “junior” co-chair Indonesia, in September 2012. The UK’s vision for its year as lead chair can be viewed at and includes the aim of increasing communications to raise the profile of the OGP.

5. 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 on-going cooperation and collaboration between governments and civil society, the IRM serves a key role in ensuring the continued credibility and legitimacy of OGP.

6. 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), which will be made up of five policy or technical experts and the three senior advisors. The technical experts, who will be announced shortly, will play a direct role in overseeing the quality control process for IRM report production, including reviewing and approving final reports for publication.

7. Countries that have recently signed up to the OGP are attending an event in London on 5 December at which they can learn from existing participants and multilateral partner organisations about developing their action plans. The event is also open to countries which have expressed an interest in joining the organisation, including Tunisia and Morocco.

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

9. The establishment of an Open Data Institute was announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement 2011. The ODI aims to demonstrate the commercial value of open data and will work closely with the public and private sectors as well as academia to exploit data. The ODI is based in Shoreditch, East London, at the heart of the capital’s technology community - “Tech City”.

10. Four data-driven start-up businesses are already working in the ODI’s HQ:

  • Placr: who create their own commuter-focused apps and make multiple transportation data sets available in one place for developers 
  • Locatable: Making house-hunting easier by providing all the information people might need about a location
  • Open Corporates: Who are aiming to bring all the information about all the companies in the world together in one place.
  • Mastodon C: A big-data analytics company which is aiming to increase the environmental performance of cloud computing

11. 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. Transparency commitments have been taken forward through three major policy announcements: the first two through prime ministerial letters to government departments in May 2010 and July 2011; with additional commitments announced as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, in November 2011. Find out about the government’s Transparency programme here.

12. You can stay in touch with government activity on Transparency and Open Public Data at, and through Twitter: @UKTransparency; @datagovuk; and @cabinetoffice and with the Open Government Partnership @opengovpart

International expert panel biographies

Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson is President of the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice.  She served as President of Ireland from 1990-1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002. She is a member of the Elders and the Club of Madrid and the recipient of numerous honours and awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the President of the United States Barack Obama. She is a member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.

A former President of the International Commission of Jurists and former chair of the Council of Women World Leaders she was President and founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative from 2002-2010.

Mary Robinson serves as Honorary President of Oxfam International and Patron of the Board of the Institute of Human Rights and Business in addition to being a board member of several organisations including the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the European Climate Foundation. Mary is the Chancellor of the University of Dublin since 1998.

Dr Mo Ibrahim

Dr Mo Ibrahim is a global expert in mobile communications with a distinguished academic and business career. He was the founder of Celtel International, one of Africa’s leading mobile telephone companies.

In 2006, Dr Ibrahim established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to support good governance and great leadership on the African continent. The Foundation focuses on two major initiatives to stimulate debate around, and improve the quality of, governance in Africa. The Ibrahim Index of African Governance provides civil society and governments with a comprehensive and quantifiable tool to assess governance and promote accountability. The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership recognises and celebrates excellence.

Dr Ibrahim is also Founding Chairman of Satya Capital Limited, an investment fund focused on Africa.

Graça Machel

Graça Machel is a renowned international advocate of women and children’s rights and has been a social and political activist over many decades.

As Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique (1975-1989) she led an inclusive movement which increased the primary school enrolment from 40 per cent of children in 1975 to over 90 per cent of boys and 75 per cent of girls by 1989.

In 1994, the Secretary General of the United Nations appointed her as an independent expert to carry out an assessment of the impact of armed conflict on children. Her ground-breaking report was presented in 1996 and established a comprehensive global agenda for the protection of children’s rights in conflict situations. She is also Founder of the Graça Machel Trust (GMT), an organisation that advocates for the rights of women and children on the continent, as well as good governance and democracy.