News 17th July 2014

Time to open up the open government movement: Omidyar Network grant announcement

by Tim Hughes

UK OGPIt’s now eight months since the UK’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) 2013-15 National Action Plan was launched at the London OGP Summit. Over the 12 months before its launch, the action plan was developed collaboratively by the UK Government and members of the UK OGP civil society network. As well as securing a number of strong commitments, the process of developing the action plan itself sought to model an open and collaborative approach to policy making.

As coordinators of the civil society network, it has always been Involve’s ambition to push that process ever further. We’re proud of the level of collaboration we were able to achieve, but we’re not content with the open government conversation and movement being limited to the small portion of society it has been. And we want to continue to stretch and challenge what can be done within the framework of the Open Government Partnership – making the most of the opportunities and facing up to the challenges it presents us with.

With that in mind, since the publication of the last action plan, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to secure funding for our coordination of the network to make a reality of these ambitions. I’m very pleased to be able to announce that Omidyar Network have agreed to fund our role for the next two years. Fantastic news, I hope you’ll agree.

As many of you will know, Omidyar Network have been a big supporter of the Open Government Partnership internationally, through both the financial and intellectual capital they have devoted to it. Indeed, Martin Tisné – director of policy at Omidyar Network – helped to found the OGP and is a civil society steering committee member. We are very excited to be working with a funder that has demonstrated such a commitment to establishing and developing the OGP and open government movement.

Our thanks must go to Laura BaconMartin Tisné and Andrew Clarke at Omidyar Network for working with us to secure this grant. We share the same ambition to innovate and stretch the operation of OGP at a national level, ensuring that it is an effective advocacy tool for civil society, creates new spaces and opportunities for reformers to collaborate and extends the dialogue deeper into government, civil society and beyond.

There’s a lot to do over the next couple of years, and I’m not going to outline it all here. We’ll be looking for advice and support at various points in the coming months in deciding how we go about achieving much of it. The key things we will be working towards are:

  • Building a broader and more diverse network of open government reformers
  • Ensuring delivery of existing open government commitments
  • Supporting development of new open government commitments
  • Prototyping new open and collaborative models of working with and within government
  • Gaining political support for open government and OGP across parties

With the General Election now less than a year away, the latter is particularly pressing. We want to use this opportunity to crowdsource an open government manifesto, allowing us to both broaden the open government conversation and build understanding of open government and the OGP across all political parties’. We intend to use the manifesto to advocate for open government commitments to be included within election manifestos and programmes for government of the political parties’, giving us a set of ready made commitments to develop for the next OGP action plan.

One other exciting element of the work I’ll mention now is a challenge fund to provide small grants to CSOs who put forward an interesting and innovative proposal for working towards one or more of the above goals. In the coming months we’ll be working with the CSO network to establish the criteria and process for the allocation of these funds.

Lots of exciting opportunities and challenges lie ahead – I hope to work with many of you on tackling them. If you’re a UK based civil society organisation or citizen, please get involved:

Tim Hughes, Open Government Programme Manager, Involve