Open Government Partnership Steering Committee is comprised of the representatives of the governments and civil society, who are working in close coordination with the aim of preserving the high standards of OGP and long-term sustainable development. This year, for the first time after 2011, OGP steering committee will be elected through voting among the member states. Georgia is one of those 11 countries, seeking the Steering Committee membership.
What is the Steering Committee and what was the Procedure of Electing Members before 2014?
The major objective of the Steering Committee (consisting of 9 countries: Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines, Norway, South Africa, UK, USA, Brazil and Tanzania) is “to develop, promote and safeguard the values, principles and interests of the OGP. It also establishes the core ideas, policies, and rules of the partnership, and oversees the functioning of the partnership”. Leadership consists of the lead government chair, support government chair and two representatives of civil society. Government chairs were being elected by the members of committee for three years and were being rotated based on regional groups. Heads of the committee were being rotated annually. It is notable that in the process of electing the member states, regional balance had always been taken into consideration, so that North America was represented by at least 1, maximum 2 persons; as for all the regions of Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia/Oceania – they were represented by minimum 1 and maximum three persons.
The lead chair is responsible for establishing a temporary secretariat during its term, which works with the OGP Support Unit to formulate and implement OGP’s strategy, host meetings of the Steering Committee, and organize the annual OGP conference.
The founding co-chairs of the steering committee were the USA and Brazil. In 2012 UK became the support chair, while the civil society was represented by Warren Krafchik from International Budget Partnership. After rotation, UK moved to the lead chair position and Indonesia became the support chair. In April of 2013 Rakesh Rajani from Twaweza became the second representative of the civil society in Steering Committee. In November of 2013 Indonesia became the lead chair, while Mexico got the position of support chair.
The OGP Steering Committee has three standing subcommittees to support its work. Subcommittees are charged with carrying out preliminary work to inform decisions taken by the entire Steering Committee. Subcommittees make recommendations to the full Steering Committee for decision. The Steering Committee may choose to form additional subcommittees as needed. Each standing subcommittee is comprised of an equal balance of governments and civil society representatives.
In 2014, for the first time, OGP Steering Committee will be elected through the elections among the member states. Upon increasing the number of OGP member states from 8 to 64, it became vital to provide larger group with the leadership tools. From 2014, annual elections will guarantee the regular rotation of the Steering Committee.
11 governments are competing for eight spots on the Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership; moreover, all the current members are authorized to re-run for the elections (5 of them opted to use this opportunity); Furthermore, three states, occupying the positions of current and future chairs will stay on positions without running. The following countries are competing for committee membership:
Sierra Leone, Canada, Honduras, Georgia, Croatia and France are seeking the membership for the first time.
Voting has commenced on July 1 and will be finished on July 30. The voting results will be announced on August 4. Simultaneously, the process of electing the representatives of civil society is under way; however, this is being done through self-nominations and a selection committee system. 37 civil society candidates are competing for five open slots, six out of them being already members of the committee. Please, view the list of the candidates and their CVs on the following link.
Considering the progress Georgia has shown in regards of fulfilling the OGP commitments, our country has significant chances in ongoing elections. We should underline the ambitious goals and projects, that were outlined in the 2014-15 Action Plan, including adoption of Freedom of Information Act, citizen portal – ichange.ge, Open Data Portal and E-Archives. Moreover, adopting legislative amendments in regards of proactive disclosure of public information is another step forward. Already implemented ambitious project – Public Service Hall has gained the UN award; Furthermore, Georgia became the Bright Spot finalist on the 2013 London summit.
In General, 2013 had been the year of significant achievements. Except above listed, in 2013 OGP Forum was created within the frames of Anti-Corruption Council. Forum is the consultation mechanism, which consists of the state agencies and NGOs and conducts monthly meetings with the aim of discussing the progress of Georgia in regards of OGP, organizes the meetings with various stakeholders with the aim of raising the awareness about OGP issues. OGP Forum reviewed and finalized the 2014-15 Action Plan.
Government of Georgia expressed full readiness to dedicate financial and human recourses to support Georgia’s participation in OGP Steering Committee.