The Consultation – How It Worked

‘Good Ideas Come From Everywhere’

The consultation gave civil society and citizens an opportunity to say what they thought belonging to the Open Government Partnership should mean in Ireland. At three public meetings and through collaborative input online, more than 100 participants came up with a total of 62 concrete commitments for inclusion in Ireland’s first OGP National Action Plan. A report detailing these proposals has been sent to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which is sponsoring this consultation. Read the report.

Individuals and civil society organisations took part in public consultations on OGP between July and September 2013. Here is a timeline and outline of these consultations:

Process_Diagram_OGP

What happened at these three meetings?

Meeting I –  July 10 Wood Quay Venue Dublin  – Agenda

  • Introducing OGP:  Why is OGP important for Ireland? What are OGP’s grand challenges and core principles. Short ‘primers’ on the four core principles in Irish context. What does a good Action Plan look like?  What does good partnership look like?
  • Unpacking OGP: Four working groups were established, based on OGP’s core principles of Accountability, Citizen Participation, Technology & Innovation, and Transparency. Working group participants discussed barriers and solutions to open government in Ireland. Working group facilitators reported to plenary.
  • Invited Speakers: Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform; Prof David Farrell, UCD; Gavin Sheridan, journalist; Denis Parfenov, Active Citizen; John Handelaar, Kildarestreet.com; Paul Maassen, OGP’s civil society coordinator (via Skype).

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Meeting II – August 8 Wood Quay Venue Dublin – Agenda

  • Outputs from July 10 meeting and public submissions were presented and further feedback and input sought from working groups. Invited civil servants from a range of government departments joined working groups to provide policy advice. Working group participants identified SMART action plan commitments.
  • Introducing OGP civil society/citizen engagement models: What has worked elsewhere, and why? Working groups reflected on stakeholder engagement and process models and discussed which approach would best suit Irish context.
  • Invited speakers: Paul Maassen, OGP’s independent civil society coordinator; Simon Burall from Involve, a British NGO which coordinated civil society engagement in the UK’s second National Action Plan; and Peter Emerson from The de Borda Institute.

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Meeting III – September 5 Wood Quay Venue Dublin Agenda

  • Outputs from two previous meetings were discussed in working groups. Participants were provided with the latest drafts of the working group proposals.
  • Action Plan proposals and the rationale for these were finalised by working groups. Based on the input from participants, facilitators working on laptops made final edits to the Action Plan proposals in the online documents.
  • Action Plan priorities were agreed at working group level using a consensus voting technique, the Modified Borda Count. Facilitators presented working group priorities to plenary.
  • OGP civil society/citizen engagement: Working groups reflected on stakeholder engagement and process models and discussed which approach would best suit Irish context. Facilitators presented the working group proposals to plenary.

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What happened between these three meetings?

Work and discussion continued between the three planned meetings. Transparency International Ireland digested and summarised notes from the meetings and developed draft working documents based on open government challenges and the proposed solutions. These working documents were made available online for input/feedback/comment during the consultation process. More information about working groups set up as part of this consultation. All working documents were circulated and made available on this website for collaborative input. These were refined and finalised as part of an iterative process that was open and inclusive.

Here’s the simple framework used for the discussions about the OGP in Ireland

1. What promises do you want the government to make in its first OGP National Action Plan?

2. Which are the most important?

3. Why are these the most important?

4. How do you think stakeholder participation in the OGP consultation process could be enhanced in the future?

5. What are your views for the future development and deepening of Ireland’s OGP participation, particularly in making it easy for citizens and civil society interests to take part?

The Mantra was: Meet – Discuss – Recommend

What happened next?

After the conversations, a report was put together and presented to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It contains the 62 proposed Action Plan commitments prepared by citizens and civil society, along with their views for future stakeholder participation in Ireland’s OGP consultation process.

After that there will be an ongoing role for citizens and civil society as their recommendations are considered together with the government’s own proposals in finalising an Action Plan which will secure Ireland’s full participation in the OGP by April 2014.

The input gathered through this initial consultation exercise will help shape Ireland’s OGP process in the months and years ahead – both for the country’s first Action Plan commitments and for future, deeper, stakeholder engagement.

The Open Government Partnership is not about a moment in time – it is a process that will evolve and be refined as Action Plan commitments are delivered and new undertakings made.

How has it worked elsewhere?

Sometimes the process of developing OGP country plans has been rushed, and sometimes not all the appropriate actors were involved. However, a structure and deadline give focus. This initial phase of the Irish consultation took place over three months. It is up to people and organisations to get involved, and up to all of us to spread the word that the conversation is ongoing.

See here for notes on how they did it in Croatia. And here for the UK

Here is some analysis from the experiences of eight countries – Brazil, Croatia, Indonesia, Moldova, Montenegro, Peru, Ukraine and the UK, together with the lessons that have emerged from their experience of establishing OGPs.