e-GAP: Comments on latest draft paper

A few days ago we received the latest draft of the e-GAP paper a few days ago. Let us be more precise here: the paper is on Open Government and Participation and the role that GAP and ICTs can play in the process.

Here are the comments I shared with the team and that were then forwarded to the consultant working on the paper.

1. The draft is pretty well researched and we can say it covers most bases. It also has relevant references and denotes an excellent effort by the consultant to put together a seemingly set of disconnected concept and initiatives. The writing is also good and in most cases gets to the point right away. I however think the current version is on the long side and needs to be trimmed a bit.

2. One of the core issues with the current draft relates to both the problem definition and the analytical framework. The current problem definition is in the last paragraph of the overview and in the methodology section (although the text in the latter reads more as objectives of the paper). It seems to me the question we are asking at the end of the first section does not hit the target. As I see it, the issue here is hot what are the salient features of all the stuff we are trying to cover bur rather HOW do these things connect to each other, if at all. Asking the what question can lead to a very descriptive paper that needs to include definitions of basic concepts (which we see in the conceptual framework section).

3. The paper does have a conceptual framework that is depicted in a chart that has a short paragraph to support it. I think we should ask Zoran to explain this but in any event I have issues for example with the second layer from bottom to top. I should also add here that UNDP’s e-governance framework includes e-participation as one of is core pillars. So having it as a separate category does not really fly. This is also happening in various other sections of the paper.

4. We need to decide what is our starting point. It seems to me that we should focus on OGP and its 4 principles first and from there introduce all the work and substance that UNDP does in DG including ICTs. As I see it Open government is not really new but is nowadays fashionable. But most of the priorities national OG plan include are DG related. This can be our entry point and I have in fact said this to OGP several times. And within the DG framework we can limit ourselves to two or three areas of work that related to participation (non-electoral), transparency and accountability. For participation we should focus on public policy and decision making processes. For transparency we could tackle service and information delivery and for accountability we could focus on social accountability, noting that the three are related too.

5. With this in mind we can then bring governance assessments and new ICTs with a developing country focus. As you are aware, OGP has already developed an Independent Review Mechanism which is going t be uses to assess OGP progress at the national level. By independent they mean that governments are not involved. The review mechanism is also initially focused on processes. For example, OGP wants to assess if citizen/stakeholder engagement did actually take place, etc. We are also aware that we need to beef up the ICT component in the governance assessment approach. The paper should also make recommendations on this.

6. From this we can then derive conclusions and recommendations that are relevant to OGP and to us too, of course.

7. In terms of the paper structure, I suggest we drop all the sections that defines the various areas under our scope. Having one paragraph in the intro or thereabouts should suffice. I however think that the section on Open Data is important as long as we can clearly distinguish it from Open Government. Open Data is very over hyped nowadays, along with big data/big brother, especially after the HLP make the call for a “data revolution”.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, Raúl

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