Scoring the Third National Action Plan: Civil Society Analysis

Updated, November 10, 2015

OTG and the Open Government Partnership process

Since the beginning of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011, OpenTheGovernment.org has played a key role in coordinating civil society collaboration with the United States government in the OGP process. Together with the openness community, we have created Model Plans with civil society's recommended commitments, as well as evaluations of the first and second National Action Plans (NAPs). Our Model Plans and evaluations can be found here.

On Tuesday, October 27th, the government released its third National Action Plan. We asked our civil society partners to provide scores for the NAP, based on the extent to which the civil society recommendations in our Model Plan were incorporated into the final plan. We also asked for commentary from a wide-range of civil society actors engaged in the OGP process. [see below for a series of blog posting on the NAP 3]

Analysis

Based on the civil society commentary provided so far, it appears the feedback on the NAP 3 differs across sectors. Those working on certain areas such as foreign aid transparency, open education and open data, for example, have highlighted significant commitments in the NAP 3. On the other hand, openness proponents working on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), trade transparency, open contracting, ethics, and other areas, emphasized areas where the Plan fell short of civil society expectations. Commitments on access to information on health data, environmental openness, education, and others may be seen as significant; whereas those looking to hold government accountable for its action and policies are more likely to see the NAP 3 as notably lacking in transformative commitments.    

The Administration has signaled that they are open to the idea of extending the Plan, potentially with a NAP 3.1 that would contain new or modified commitments. There is precedent for this approach, as the second NAP was expanded in September 2014 with “New U.S. National Action Plan Initiatives,” which included new commitments that had not made it into the NAP 2.

Some of our partners have called for such an extension to the new Plan, to include new or revised commitments that would significantly improve a range of openness areas. Those who care about open contracting, for example, have called for commitments that are more public-facing and ambitious, while also emphasizing the need for a more collaborative and participatory consultation process. This concern about the quality of consultation has emerged as a common thread among many civil society groups that collaborated with the government on the third NAP, including (but not limited to) those focused on privacy protections and trade transparency. The OGP has clear guidance on what is specifically required for civil society consultation.

Civil society continues to hope that many of the recommended initiatives and policies developed by civil society  still will be actively considered (in discussion with civil society partners), and undertaken by this Administration. Open government advocates will continue to push this Administration to take measurable action on meaningful accountability initiatives and to engage in real consultation with civil society as the Plan is implemented.

We will feature analysis on the third NAP from civil society below. Please continue to check back as we update this page to include the new blogs and articles.

U.S. Open Government Commitments Fail to Improve Trade Transparency
[EFF, Jeremy Malcolm, October 27, 2015]

White House Commits to Open Access, Open Education and Open Data in New Open Government Plan
[SPARC, Nicole Allen, October 27, 2015]

White House’s “Open Government National Action Plan” Misses The Mark
[Cause of Action, October 27, 2015]

ODNI Issues Transparency Implementation Plan
[Federation of American Scientists, Steven Aftergood, October 28, 2015]

Third National Action Plan Released
[National Security Archive, Lauren Harper, October 29, 2015]

U.S. OGP National Action Plan 3.1: Next steps to open US government contracting
[Open Contracting, Ruairi Macdonald, October 29, 2015]

NAP Causes Irritability Among Civil Society Groups
[POGO, Scott Amey, November 3, 2015]

The U.S. Commits To The Right Things In Foreign Aid Transparency: Increasing Quality And Use
[InterAction, Laia Grino, November 4, 2015]

U.S. Government Pledges Support for Open Educational Resources
[Shareable, Cat Johnson, November 4, 2015]

Are the government's commitments on criminal justice open data enough?
[Sunlight Foundation, Damian Ortellado, November 11, 2015]

Obama Administration Promises a Machine-Readable Federal Government Organization Chart
[CATO, Jim Harper, November 17, 2015]

Scoring the third NAP

Note: Our Model Plans and evaluations represent only the subset of civil society recommendations of particular interest to our openness partners, and there are other avenues for civil society organizations to submit recommendations, such as by using the White House hackpad. The third NAP includes 45 commitments, which cover a broad range of openness-related issues and many of which fall outside the scope of our model civil society plan. OTG encourages engagement from new civil society partners and welcomes contributions from newly engaged actors involved in the OGP consultation and NAP development process.

Full-sized version

The key to the scoring is as follows:

0 – civil society recommendations neither incorporated nor addressed
1 – civil society recommendation concepts addressed
2 – civil society recommendations minimally incorporated
3 – civil society recommendations partially incorporated
4 – civil society recommendations mostly incorporated
5 – civil society recommendations completely incorporated 

 

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