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Fact Sheet: The United States Commitment to the Open Government Partnership and Open Government

December 07, 2016

"...the strongest foundation for human progress lies in open economies, open societies, and in open governments."

–President Obama, September 20, 2011, at the launch of the Open Government Partnership in New York

Five years ago, President Obama joined with the leaders of seven other nations to launch the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a global partnership between governments and civil society organizations to advance transparency and accountability, bolster citizen engagement, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. At the launch in 2011, the United States and other founding countries, along with civil society organizations, pledged to transform the way that governments serve and engage with their citizens in the 21st century.

As thousands of government leaders and civil society representatives gather together for the 2016 OGP Global Summit in Paris, the Partnership has grown into a platform for reformers in 70 countries. All participating countries endorse the Open Government Declaration, pledging to "foster a global culture of open government that empowers and delivers for citizens, and advances the ideals of open and participatory 21st century government." Countries also pledge to "lead by example and contribute to advancing open government in other countries by sharing best practices and expertise," thereby building collaboration and learning into the fabric of the Partnership. Civil society has an equal role in OGP, both in terms of in-country engagement with governments and within the OGP governing structure.

Member countries have responded to President Obama's call to develop specific commitments to promote transparency, fight corruption, energize civil society, and leverage new technologies. At the core of the Partnership is a high-level commitment from participating countries to undertake meaningful new steps as part of concrete Open Government National Action Plans (NAPs), developed and implemented in close consultation with their citizens. In its first five years, OGP countries made nearly 3,000 specific commitments to improve governance and public participation for some two billion people worldwide.

These commitments are leading to change and innovation in the way governments operate, interact with, and include their citizens. Countries around the world have implemented measures to prevent corruption and improve accountability in the public and private sectors, reformed government budgeting processes, enhanced public availability of expenditure data, rolled out e-procurement systems, and developed open data platforms to seek citizen input to monitor government policies, finances, and performance. Countries have developed in-person and online mechanisms to facilitate dialogue with civil society. Countries have also made important commitments to augment transparency through enhanced freedom of information and asset declaration laws and other efforts.

Since its inception, the United States has supported the work of the Partnership, including by serving on the OGP Steering Committee, providing critical financing to the OGP Support Unit and supporting NAP implementation around the world. These global efforts include:

•      Promotion and support of OGP as a key component of U.S. foreign policy efforts to combat corruption, advance transparency and accountability, and promote good governance worldwide.

•      Joining with more than a dozen other governments in funding the OGP Support Unit, including its work with member countries and organizations. To date, the United States through both the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department has or intends to provide $5 million to the OGP Support Unit over four years, facilitated by a newly-signed grant.

•      Targeted, country-led bilateral support for OGP implementation through USAID in more than a dozen member countries around the world, including more than $14 million in assistance last year alone. Country-level support to implement NAPs has included providing technical assistance to OGP member governments, strengthening civil society engagement and advocacy, and the design and procurement of open data technology tools.

•      Sharing best practices and catalyzing peer learning among OGP's 70 member countries, on topics such as open data, natural resource transparency, anti-corruption, and access to information. Through peer exchanges, the United States is providing mentorship and support to the governments of Sri Lanka and Nigeria, two of the newest OGP member countries, and continues to collaborate with other OGP countries on shared priorities.

•      Pioneering efforts, such as USAID's Accelerating Responsible Extractive Industry Resource Governance (ARTEIG) Research Award, to measure and improve the impact of OGP and other multi-stakeholder initiatives through $2 million for research, peer learning, and exchange activities.

As a testament to how truly global the open government movement has become, OGP's leadership and membership now represents all of the world's populated regions. The Partnership 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 subnational pilot by Austin, Texas.

In close consultation with civil society, the United States published its first National Action Plan in 2011. It included 26 concrete and ambitious open government initiatives. The final self-assessment report evaluating implementation of that plan was published in March 2013. The second National Action Plan was released in December 2013, and included 23 commitments that built on the progress made in the first plan as well as new commitments. Additional commitments were added to the second National Action Plan in September 2014. The midterm self-assessment report evaluating implementation progress for that plan was published in March 2015 and the final self-assessment report was published in June 2016.

The third National Action Plan was published in October 2015 and included 45 initiatives that further built on earlier commitments to advance the President's commitment to an open and citizen-centered government and introduced new commitments as well. In September 2016, the Administration added further commitments to the third plan and also released a midterm self-assessment report evaluating implementation progress. The implementation period for this plan is through June 2017.

Through National Action Plans and everyday activities, teams across the U.S. Government have been working to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, strengthen accountability, and transform government engagement with the American people. To date, these initiatives have led to cost savings, fueled American businesses, improved civic services, informed policy, catalyzed research and scientific discoveries, driven transparency and accountability, and increased public participation in the democratic dialogue.

U.S. National Action Plan commitments have increased public integrity, enhanced public access to information, improved management of public resources, and given the public a more active voice in the U.S. Government's policymaking process. For a list of just some of the accomplishments of this administration to build a more open, participatory, accountable, and collaborative government across the nearly 100 Federal departments and agencies in close partnership with civil society organizations, advocates, academics, industry, and members of the public, please visit here.

Barack Obama, Fact Sheet: The United States Commitment to the Open Government Partnership and Open Government Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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