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Open government partnership network: an appraisal

The OPG report initiative, launched in 2011 has enrolled thus far eight out of 64 countries in the world. It is hoped other countries would follow soon. The vision document enshrines the founding principles, aims, constitution, mechanism and rules and regulations.

The primary objective is to enhance accountability, transparency and performance levels of governments, in what today’s parlance is termed “good governance” with the assistance of civil society, private members and different observer/monitoring groups.

Given the fact that Pakistan is a “low income country,” the issue of transparency, accountability and problems of governance are daunting, complex and manifold. In fact, most of the current socio-economic and political travails stem from poor and shoddy level of governance. This is a focal point of the vision document. While the rationale and formation of different committees, core committees and bodies suggested is an excellent idea and well taken, there are nevertheless some to be highlighted.

They can be briefly listed as follows:

— Stringent criteria laid down may be different with different governments, depending upon their level of development; hence there is a need to bring them under a uniform umbrella.

— Sometimes it is felt that when there are plethora of rules, regulations, committees and sub-committees (which tend to no doubt institutionalise procedures), it tends to make the process cumbersome with undue emphasis on procedural details than substantive issues.

— Practice has demonstrated that the best of immaculate concepts fall well short of implementation either through slippages of instructions or obsessing over procedural details.

— Capacity-building, training and institution-building are important for any reform process to succeed.

— Metrics set for judging performance levels should be modified as subsequent progress is made.

— It is better to proceed slowly, steadily and cautiously rather than ambitiously – or else focus could be lost.

— The idea of creating an ombudsman office is good for resolving disputes and conflicts both within government and within societal actors/groups.

— Best practices of other countries should be adopted while keeping in view local conditions.

— Diverse sections of civil society can be incorporated in order to assist their governments.

— Regular meetings are important to monitor and evaluate progress.

— Scientific technological tools should be utilised for monitoring, evaluation and improving performance level.

— Care should be taken not to make the Secretariat of the organisation top-heavy as this can lead to heavier layers of bureaucracy thus affecting efficiency and delivery.

— Reforming political culture and education levels are important as they provide a healthy context for good governance.

— Inculcation of basic ethical, civic and moral values are needed in realising the optimum results.

— Political will is crucial sine qua non and heads of government should be involved in annual meetings.

— Good governance, if and when measured through the set metrics, must be incentive-based by reward/non-reward system.

In conclusion, the OPG is an excellent concept; however, the touchstone lies in faithful implementation and deliverance of tangible, concrete results. Different levels of standards/metrics should be established and requisite award system instituted for better performance of different national governments. Moreover, employing greater checks and balances, upgrading educational levels, improving awareness programmes and emphasising ethical values would make the vision a multi-stake and efficacious venture.

Maqsudul Hasan Nuri, "Open government partnership network: an appraisal," Business recorder. 2014-12-21.
Keywords: Social sciences , Social issues , Social needs , Political problems , Social development , Institution building , Political issues , Performance standards , Performance-Evaluation , Pakistan