OGP and the Governance Data Alliance – “The marketplace for governance data is broken. We’re trying to fix it.”

This post was created automatically via an RSS feed and was originally published at http://www.opengovpartnership.org/blog/j-preston-whitt/2015/08/27/ogp-and-governance-data-alliance-marketplace-governance-data-broken

The Governance Data Alliance (GDA) is a new initiative uniting non-governmental organizations, multilateral donors, and governments who produce and consume governance data.  OGP is thrilled to be participating in this project.  As the GDA’s Vision Paper details.

“The current state of affairs is vastly insufficient when it comes to the production and usage of high-quality governance data. Producers rarely know who uses their data; users have no way of signaling to producers what they want and need; and donors have no idea what the return on their investments is. We’re trying to change that, together, and to establish a more efficient market for the production and use of governance data globally.”

OGP has been involved in the GDA from early in the initiative’s planning, and OGP became a founding participating organization in July 2015. We’ve prepared this short blog to answer some questions about OGP’s participation with the GDA.

What exactly is the GDA going to do?

The GDA’s immediate work is going to focus on three ‘work-streams’:

Data Producer Collaboration
Coordination between Data Producers and Consumers
Coordinated Data Collection

The first workstream will focus on supporting GDA members in data management and visualization tools and processes through workshops, trainings, and the like.  The second workstream will use AidData’s sensational project, “The Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change”, to draw out some lessons for the GDA’s data producing members about how different consumers of governance data use that information to inform policy reforms and decisions.  Finally, the third workstream will be a longer-term project coordinating field work to see if some economies of scale for in-country data collection can be achieved.

What particular value does the GDA add?  How does it coincide with OGP’s work?

The three workstreams delineated above directly overlap with challenges that OGP faces, and, hopefully, will help us overcome them.  This is what convinced us of the utility of OGP’s participation in the GDA.

For example:

  • Building data management and visualization tools and processes from scratch when other organizations are working on or producing very similar tools and processes.  This constant ‘reinvention of the wheel’ costs all of we ‘data producers’ a LOT of time and money.  The recently launched OGP Explorer was a very heavy lift, and its usability, efficiency, and design could have benefitted from peering into some GDA members’ black boxes, like the World Resource Institute’s Environmental Democracy Index.

 

  • Figuring out what our data ‘consumers’ need and want and how we can better tailor our data to them.  We want the OGP’s work to change something, so that requires framing and presenting our products like IRM reports in ways that stakeholders from government reformers to civil society activists can use.  But for a single organization with a wide mandate and limited resources, like the OGP, this type of coordination can be extremely difficult.  Much of what we hear from government points of contact about their IRM reports or action plan reviews is anecdotal, so a structured way to understand how useful these interventions are, or how they could be more useful, would be a major achievement.  Organizations like us could multiply our impact substantially if we knew exactly what drove particular government champions or civil society advocates.

 

  • Cost of in-country data collection.  While this GDA workstream is still a ways off, and while OGP is not sure we will participate directly, we definitely recognize the heavy costs of multiple researchers collecting similar data, and the risks of overwhelming stakeholders or government reformers with constant requests for interviews or contributions.  In a universe of limited resources, we have to constantly search for opportunities to improve data collection efficiency in everything from researcher training, time, stakeholder fatigue, and civil servant contributions.  The GDA can help identify these opportunities.

Does this have anything to do with OGP’s Four Year Strategy?

Definitely.  Based on OGP’s Four Year Strategy, we are using some specific indicators to track our progress toward our mission and goals and help us try to measure OGP’s impactfulness.  We hope that our participation in the GDA will support this work.

Specifically, we believe that two of our ‘ultimate outcome indicators’ may be more easily and accurately measured as a result of the GDA’s activities:

  • Number of countries where OGP NAPs are tackling critical (e.g. newsworthy, timely, public priorities) policy challenges
  • Number of OGP countries where the enabling environment (regulations, official mechanisms for citizen participation, etc.) for civil society participation improves over time).

We already make use of objective indicators to give us a picture of country wide eligibility to join OGP. But what about after a country has joined OGP and has participated for a number of years? We would benefit from working closely with other organizations who generate country-level data on civic space, environmental openness, extractives openness etc and assess whether progress in these areas moves in the same direction as progress in OGP.

That all sounds great, but what is one concrete thing the OGP community can expect to see coming out of the GDA in the next year?

The “Alliance Data Dashboard”.  This dashboard is still in the contracting and design stages.  When completed, it will show a universe of GDA participants’ evaluations, reports, and index results for a particular country that, currently, are dispersed across tens of different organizations, websites, and reports.

As a result of this dashboard, if someone wanted to see how their country was doing on “governance”, they will be able to go to the country page on the Dashboard and find out that country’s performance on OGP consultation guidelines or action plan implementation, the WRI Environmental Democracy Index, the World Bank Doing Business Index, the World Justice Project’s Open Government Index, and so forth, all in a streamlined, single, easy to understand site.

 

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