OTG releases civil society progress report on the Administration’s open government commitments

WASHINGTON, February 17, 2016 – Open The Government today released a report, developed by 23 civil society organizations, on the progress made by the Administration in its Open Government commitments over the last two years. Among the findings, the report highlights the shortcomings in the completion rate, lack of political mandate and follow-through, and need for greater focus on civil society/government collaboration. All of these, and a deeper commitment to openness measures, must be improved for civil society organizations to continue to commit resources to helping the US government fulfill its Open Government Partnership (OGP) pledges and sustain engagement at the level this report reflects.

The report assesses the progress made on 16 of the United States’ Second National Action Plan commitments for the Open Government Partnership (OGP), and includes evaluations developed by experts from 23 civil society organizations. Out of the 16 evaluations, the experts ranked only 1 of the initiatives as fully completed, while the other 15 were ranked as having limited to substantial progress.  

The experts offered a range of possible explanations for why government agencies were unable to complete the initiatives, including: absence of political will, need for greater leadership; corporate opposition; and lack of a timeline with specific benchmarks, among others. In the case of surveillance transparency, experts acknowledged the “complex challenges stemming from a deeply ingrained culture of secrecy,” as a potential reason for the lack of progress on the commitments to disclose information on US foreign intelligence surveillance programs. As an example of a lack of political will, the report notes that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which plays a central oversight role on information policy, has not updated its Open Government Agency Plan since 2010.

Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, noted that “despite general frustration with collaboration, the relationships that have been built through the work on OGP — sometimes with hard-won trust on each side — will be essential to efforts to implement both the pledges made and other open government policy work, as the executive branch transitions from this Administration to the next.”

Read the full report here: Civil Society Report on Implementation of the Second US National Action Plan

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