CRPM campaign raises civil society participation on OGP

April 18, 2014

Macedonian CSOs and officials gather in Skopje for a consultative conference March 28.

News Source: Center for Research and Policy Making, Macedonia

A Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM) campaign to raise awareness of the OGP (Open Government Partnership) in the Macedonian civil-society community has resulted in a marked increase in participation by the sector on the country’s work toward adopting open government principles.

“Two years ago I was in this alone and now it’s seventy of us,” said Irena Bojadzievska, national coordinator for OGP in Macedonia, speaking at a March gathering in Skopje of a coalition working on open government issues. OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote open government.

CRPM polling data shows that the percentage of Macedonia civil-society organizations (CSOs) who are aware of the OGP has increased in the last year from 39.1 percent to 84.4 percent. The percentage of CSOs who participated in the drafting of Macedonia’s OGP Action Plan rose from 26.6 percent to 51.1 percent.

CRMP is a partner in “Advocacy for Open Government,” an EU-funded PASOS project to encourage governments in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia to become more transparent. The project’s activities in Macedonia were focused on increasing the awareness of CSOs about the OGP Initiative, increasing the inclusion of citizen associations that operate outside of the capital in the process of decision-making, and contributing toward the quality of the action plan.

Last year, CRPM launched a coalition of Macedonian CSOs to work on the issue. About 40 organizations took part in three coalition-building meetings that focused on specific priorities of the Action Plan: participatory policy making, public service delivery at the local level, and fiscal transparency. The coalition members submitted recommendations to the national coordinator for OGP, and the proposals were included in the first draft of the new national Action Plan.

In March, CRPM and the government jointly held a consultative conference in Skopje. About seventy representatives from civil society and government institutions attended. The participants were split into seven working groups and together revised the specific parts of the Action Plan that fell under their expertise and interest.

The CSOs recommended that state institutions publish citizen budgets in their webpages; improve electronic forms of participation in decision-making; regular publication of open data and proactive discloser of public information; whistleblowers’ protection; and the improvement of public procurement measures.

About 30% of the proposed content of the new draft of the Action Plan was revised to accommodate the recommendations of civil society.

“Markedly, Macedonian civil society has shown more interest and ownership over the OGP initiative, this time also by initiating to be implementing parties of many measures included in the Action Plan,” CRPM said.

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