On March 16, OGP will be launching the 2nd annual Open Government Awards. We are excited to announce this year’s theme, which will be “Improving Public Services through Open Government”. Our goal is to once again showcase and celebrate the reformers who work so hard behind the scenes to make their governments more open and accountable. The Awards competition aims to give these individuals well-deserved recognition on the global stage, with the goal of inspiring other reformers around the world to learn from their successes.
Why the theme of Improving Public Services? Because we understand that open government is ultimately about making governments work better for people. Public services are the most direct way in which people interact with and experience their government. Education, health care, water, roads, public safety – if delivered well and accessible to all - form the foundation of inclusive development. Improving public services is therefore at the heart of the new Sustainable Development Goals, to be agreed later this year at the UN.
In today’s world, people have the potential to be active rather than passive users of public services, and governments can and should help to strengthen this role. That’s where ‘open government’ comes in. The 2015 Awards will be honoring initiatives that find ways to solicit regular input and feedback from citizens in order to improve access, quality and/or accountability in public service delivery.
There are now 65 OGP participating countries, and each one no doubt will have a different model of engaging citizens in public service delivery to bring to the Awards. Our judges will therefore be asked to assess the boldness of each initiative relative to the unique challenges different countries are facing. We are confident that this will result in a diverse and inspiring group of reformers at the top of the recognition pool.
Last year we were inspired by the 33 countries that applied to the Open Government Awards, most of which were joint applications between governments and civil society. The partnerships and enthusiasm that animated last year’s applications clearly demonstrated that good ideas come from everywhere, and that there is a real desire to share the results of hard work. That is what the Open Government Awards is all about.
So look out for the launch of Awards, and rally your government to apply. We are anticipating an equally exciting Awards ceremony in the presence of world leaders at the OGP Global Summit in Mexico City this October!