18 months ago we set out to develop a tool for civil society in OGP countries to assess how open and ambitious their governments were being in developing their National Action Plans. After countless drafts of questions and two rounds of pilots, we’re pleased to be able to share with you what we’ve come up with. In this three part blog post series, we will 1) introduce the tool, 2) share the results from the latest round of pilots, and 3) draw some overarching conclusions from the pilots.

Today, we start with an overview of the tool itself. What’s it for, what does it look like, and what’s next?

The purpose for developing the tool has been threefold:

First, it’s intended to support the rigorous and comprehensive scrutiny of an action plan by civil society.  It consists of fifty questions, divided across three sections, that evaluate 1) how the previous NAP was implemented, 2) how a new action plan was developed, and 3) the quality and ambition of commitments.  Questions explore everything from whether a timeline was proactively published to the extent to which commitments match civil society priorities. The scoring of each question is weighted, based on a survey of civil society, to ensure that each is given the worth it deserves.

Second, it allows for some comparison between countries and, more importantly, over time within countries.  For each metric, civil society is asked to rate their government on a four point scale, from “not at all” to “to a large extent”, with each option including some explanatory text to give some guidance on what “to a moderate extent”, for example, would look like in practice.  Of course, how a question is interpreted and answered will still depend on a lot of individual, societal and cultural factors, so we must be careful about the conclusions we draw, particularly in comparisons between countries.  Perhaps more importantly, government and civil society will be able to track how they progress over time with each action plan they produce.

Third, the tool is intended to support civil society advocacy to government, and prompt a discussion between the two partners on how their country can perform best. Within the process of completing the review, there’s an opportunity for government and other civil society organisations to respond to the first draft completed by the lead civil society reviewer. However, much more important than this, we hope the tool will be used collaboratively by government and civil society before and after a NAP is developed to set and review ambition.

As more countries complete the review, we’ll be able to explore correlations between different metrics and trends over time.  With that in mind, the next steps for us are to:

  1. Work out how best to publish and present the results from the review.
  2. Roll the review out to the next round of countries developing their NAPs
  3. Explore the data and work out what it’s telling us about the state of OGP

In the next post, we’ll look at how the pilot countries performed in the review.

This post was originally published on the Open Government Partnership blog