UK Risks Its Place On Anti-Corruption Body

The UK has been placed ‘under review’ by the 77-country-strong Open Government Partnership (OGP) due to its failure to meet mandatory criteria for the two previous National Action Plans. These plans set out how the government will progress transparency and accountability initiatives.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) includes 77 countries and 106 local governments – representing more than two billion people and thousands of civil society organisations. It is a partnership that promotes transparent, participatory, inclusive and accountable governance.

Open contracting and transparency in public procurement have proven to save money and broaden competition. It is becoming a global norm in OGP, with over 70 members committing to reforms on the issue.

As a co-founder of OGP, the United Kingdom has been a global leader on open government and anti-corruption efforts, implementing four open government action plans. However, despite progress on procurement, the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) has completed its review of the UK’s most recent action plan 2021-2023  found in August that the report failed to meet minimum standards that are required when developing an OGP action plan.

This week, Kevin Keith, Chair of UK Open Government Network (UK OGN) outlined the the risks in article in “In 2011 the UK government was a founding member of the Open Government Partnership. It provided global leadership on how and why governments should be transparent, held to account, and involve the public in decision-making. Now, that very same Partnership may declare the UK government ‘inactive.’ ”

This is the third consecutive action plan cycle in which the UK failed to meet the minimum requirements. The UK was placed under Procedural Review in February 2021, due to acting contrary to process for two consecutive action plan cycles (late delivery of its 2018-2020 action plan, and not meeting the minimum standards during co-creation of its 2019-21 action plan).

The IRM review found that the government did not provide its reasoning behind why certain priorities, ideas or activities proposed by non-government stakeholders were or were not included in the UK’s 2021-23 OGP Action Plan, or how the public’s feedback was used to shape the plan before it was finalised in late 2021.

The next meeting of the OGP is in October in Rome.The Criteria & Standards (C&S) Subcommittee will discuss the findings of this report and review the UK’s participation status in OGP and If in this meeting the UK is declared ‘inactive in the OGP, it will join only El Salvador, Malta and Malawi.

In the last few week, three commitments have been added to the original– UK National Action Plan: Diversity and Inclusion, Aid Transparency, and Freedom of Information. Hopefully this will see some strengthening of accountability relating to Official Development Assistance.

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