Canada and the Open Government Partnership

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is the leading global, multilateral initiative focusing on open government. Its core objective is to secure commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance in partnership with civil society and the private sector. In October 2018, Canada became co-chair of the Open Government Partnership.

The OGP encourages governments to work in partnership with civil society and the private sector to co-create and implement ambitious open government reforms.

As part of their membership to the OGP, countries are required to publish national action plans on open government to be implemented over a two-year period.

Canada has been recognized by the OGP as being a leader in a number of areas.

In the years to come, the OGP aims to prioritize inclusion, participation and impact.

Context

Created in 2011 by eight founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States), the OGP encourages governments to work in partnership with civil society and the private sector to co-create and implement ambitious open government reforms. Since its inception in 2011, 76 countries have joined the OGP. Canada plays a key leadership role at the OGP and assumed the role of lead chair in October 2018. Priorities for its OGP leadership cover inclusion, participation and impact.

The OGP is governed by a Steering Committee comprised of 11 government officials and 11 civil society representatives. The Steering Committee is led by four co-chairs: one lead government, one lead civil society organization, one supporting government and one supporting civil society organization (supporting co-chairs are typically incoming co-chairs, so they serve for one year as supporting co-chair, then the following year as lead co-chair).

National action plans

As part of their membership to the OGP, countries are required to publish national action plans on open government to be implemented over a two-year period. Action plans must include specific commitments for advancing OGP principles across the country.

Successful plans focus on significant national open government priorities and ambitious reforms; are relevant to the values of transparency, accountability and public participation; and contain specific, time-bound and measurable commitments.

Countries must report publicly on implementing their national plans and complete public consultations in developing both national action plans and self-assessment reports. Since joining the OGP in 2011, Canada has released three OGP national action plans. The most recent, Canada’s Third Biennial Plan to the Open Government Partnership 2016 to 2018 (PDF), released in 2016, includes 22 commitments to strengthen open government efforts across the federal government.

Canada’s results

Canada has been recognized by the OGP as being a leader in a number of areas:

  • Open data: Canada continues to rank highly in international indexes measuring implementation of open data efforts. Canada was ranked second in the 2016 Open Data Barometer.
  • Results and delivery: As part of Canada’s reporting on its Third Biennial Plan to the OGP, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat launched an open government commitment progress tracker. The tracker provides quarterly updates on progress in implementing Canada’s open government commitments, which goes above and beyond the OGP’s requirements for annual self-assessment reports on implementation progress.
  • Intergovernmental engagement: The OGP has commended Canada for its commitment to engage with sub-national governments to harmonize approaches to open data across Canada with a view to piloting a federated open-data search service.
  • Consultation and engagement: OGP countries have commended Canada on its commitment to consultation and engagement with citizens, including robust consultations at the earliest stages of major policy reviews (e.g. defence, international development and Arctic policy reviews).

Plans for the future

Inclusion: Openness is about more than the mere act of publishing data and information. It also means being more open to different cultures and people, to a diversity of views and to new ways of thinking.

Participation: The OGP believes government ultimately belongs to the people it serves. When citizens, civil society and businesses have access to public data and information, and a wide variety of ways to participate in government decision making, they can do more than governments could ever dream of doing on their own.

Impact: If we want the global open government movement to be sustainable for years to come, we need to demonstrate the real, measurable results of the work we do. We can no longer rely on reporting about number of data sets or number of consultations held—citizens want to see the real impact that open government can have on their day-to-day lives.

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