Today in New York City, we join leaders from Open Government Partnership (OGP) countries and civil society organizations at the United Nations — where OGP began in 2011 — to celebrate five years of this partnership. In 2011, President Obama and seven other world leaders formed the Open Government Partnership and set out to transform the way that governments operate. Their goal was to create a forum for global and national collaboration and action promoting greater transparency and citizen engagement, a ‘default to open’ government not just ‘for’ but ‘with’ the people.
Five years later, this partnership has grown to 70 countries and hundreds of civil society organizations that have released more than 130 Open Government National Action Plans containing more than 3,000 commitments on topics including open data, anticorruption efforts, public service delivery, and freedom of information. In addition to the global Open Government Summits, OGP also hosts regional gatherings in the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. OGP is also expanding to cities and other subnational governments around the world through a 15-city pilot program. The United States is represented in this city pilot by Austin, Texas.
Today, timed with this celebratory gathering, the United States is announcing continued progress on the 45 commitments made in our open government efforts by releasing a progress report on our third Open Government National Action Plan.
Further, the United States is also adding new and expanded commitments as part of that third national action plan. The new commitments include bringing contracting professionals more closely together with open data experts to improve contracting data efforts in support of the Open Contracting Data Standard. A second new commitment details the Administration’s work to increase Internet connectivity around the world through the Global Connect program, working with other countries and multilateral institutions to implement solutions for high-speed, affordable broadband access. For a third new commitment, the Administration will release a Responsible Business Conduct National Action Plan, detailing actions to promote responsible business conduct by U.S. companies operating abroad. Expanded commitments include work related to United States membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, efforts to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals therein, further expanding access to climate and arctic information, and improving transparency of U.S. security sector assistance.
As noted above, OGP has also introduced great opportunities for peer exchange among the 70 member countries. Leaders in the United States have been able to share best practices with counterparts in dozens of countries on topics like open data, natural resource transparency, and citizen access to government information. Through these peer exchange mechanisms, the United States is able to provide mentorship to the government of Sri Lanka, one of the newest OGP countries. These engagements also allow for deep dives on specific projects and initiatives, such as the U.S.-UK digital exchange where our tech teams are collaborating on shared goals. Additionally, the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program announced a new digital track, where digital colleagues from a variety of countries will gather in the United States this fall to work collaboratively on digital government efforts.
These efforts and more demonstrate the United States commitment to an open government, one that is more transparent, collaborative, and participatory. Over the coming months, the Administration will continue to work hard to deliver against all of our open government commitments and to further expand peer exchange opportunities.
And as OGP turns the corner into the next five years, the United States is working with its open government partners to promote increased digital capacity within government,to develop technologies that facilitate greater civic engagement, and to include our counterparts from those communities in OGP gatherings and events, such as the upcoming OGP Summit taking place in Paris this December which will include many engagement, learning and collaboration opportunities, including a civic tech hackathon.
We look forward to collaborating on charting the course ahead with OGP as it continues to grow and evolve.
Megan Smith is an Assistant to the President and U.S. Chief Technology Officer.
Cori Zarek is Deputy Chief Technology Officer.