[Okfn-irl] OGP Civil Society Announcement - includes draft minutes of last Thursday's meeting

Kevin Murphy kevin at vaireland.org
Tue Feb 4 09:35:20 UTC 2014

Thanks Nuala and Nat

Very much enjoyed the meeting and putting faces to emails. I've put the
freelance role up on our site and we will push out through social media too.

I think the notes and decisions look good and I hope the meeting goes well
this week.

I look forward to updates and to making meetings when I can - do let me
know if there is anything I can do to help

Best wishes

On 3 February 2014 12:56, Nuala Haughey <nhaughey at tasc.ie> wrote:

> (The message below is from Nat O'Connor, who asked me to forward it to all
> lists. Could someone forward it to the Open Data list as I don't seem to be
> able to email to that one. Nuala)
> Hi All,
> Thanks to everyone who took part in the civil society OGP meeting last
> Thursday evening. Apologies for such a long email, but I wanted to get a
> lot of things down on paper for the wider group.
> A number of important decisions were taken at the meeting, to strengthen
> civil society's participation in the joint-committee with officials to
> jointly draft Ireland's first OGP Action Plan. The decisions in brief are
> as follows: (1) We agreed to continue to meet as a *Civil Society OGP
> Forum*, to provide a space for information sharing, co-operation and
> wider discussion of Ireland's OGP Action Plan as it is created; (2) Some
> *volunteers* agreed to attend the joint meetings with officials to work
> on Ireland's draft OGP Action Plan, and to report back to the Forum; (3) We
> agreed to accept an offer of *short-term financial support from DPER* for
> a part-time administrative assistant for the Forum; and (4) We agreed to
> promote a new *email list* for use by all participants in the Civil
> Society OGP Forum, to streamline communications and to deal with technical
> problems caused by the Google lists in use at present. We will try to make
> sure this allows people to just sign up for Announcements, as well as to
> engage in online discussion and debate if they wish.
> Annex 1 gives draft Minutes of the meeting that participants should feel
> to modify or add to, based on your own notes.
> Annex 2 gives my personal thoughts on the Civil Society OGP Forum. This
> goes beyond what we had time to discuss on Thursday and is open to
> discussion with the group.
> Annex 3 provides some more information on the email lists.
> Annex 4 provides a copy of the email sent by Evelyn O'Connor at DPER.
> Annex 5 fleshes out the job description for the temporary assistant. I
> would ask you all to circulate this information electronically.
> Annex 6 provides initial thoughts on a Communication Plan for the Forum.
> Kind regards,
> Nat
> *Annex 1: Minutes of the Civil Society Meeting, Thursday 30th February*
> Present: Anne Colgan; Antoin Ó Lachtnain (Digital Rights Ireland); Denis
> Parfenov (OKFN Ireland/Active Citizen); Donal O'Brolchain; Edward
> Stephenson; Flora Fleischer (OKFN Ireland); Ingo Keck; Ivan Cooper (The
> Wheel); Jane Suiter (DCU); John Devitt (Transparency International Ireland
> ); John J May; Kevin Murphy (Voluntary Arts Ireland); Nat O'Connor (TASC);
> Nuala Haughey (TASC/TI Ireland); and Vanessa Liston (CiviQ.eu).
> Apologies and emailed comments were also received from Jonathan Victory
> and Mick Byrne.
> The meeting took place on Thursday 30th February 2014, from 5.30pm to
> 7.30pm, in TASC's offices on 14-15 Parliament Street, Dublin 2.
> There was a round of introductions.
> Nat O'Connor gave a potted summary of the OGP process to date, with others
> contributing comments and additional information.
> Vanessa Liston asked about the level of political will across Government
> for OGP. The group discussed how actions will be chosen. Brendan Howlin's
> public statements and lead role was noted. It was noted that DPER will
> naturally lead out on the policy, and seek other Departments to join in.
> Denis Parfenov noted the initial role of Minister for State for Innovation,
> Sean Sherlock, in OGP, but that DPER was the appropriate Department to
> advance an all-of-Government approach. Antoin Ó Lachnain noted that,
> although DPER may not be able to impose actions on other Departments, it
> can impose a 'style'. Donal O'Brolchain noted that the very existence of
> the word Reform as part of DPER's title indicates their mandate.
> Edward Stephenson noted that there was nothing stopping individuals and
> organisations continuing to do work to promote openness and transparency
> actions, in parallel to the formal OGP process.
> Flora Fleischer noted the need for a communication plan for civil society,
> alongside the process (see Annex 6).
> It was suggested that the Forum should meet every two weeks at least, to
> keep up with the Action Plan process.
> In terms of the process from here until the final Action Plan, the
> question came up about how drafting and responding to draft versions of
> Ireland's OGP Action Plan would happen. On the basis of previous
> communication from DPER, it was suggested that the first joint-committee
> might agree headers (i.e. a Contents list) for the Action Plan, with
> discussion of the text to go in each section. It was envisaged that
> officials would draft text and that civil society (including the Forum)
> would get a chance to review them and give feedback, before the next
> committee meeting, discussion, and further revisions.
> It was felt that headers in the plan would be fairly intuitive, based on
> international practice to date and the existing set of OGP action plans.
> Ivan Cooper suggested that the four OGP pillars (transparency;
> accountability; technology; and civic participation) would make appropriate
> headers as 'buckets' into which further detail and actions could be added.
> The group discussed that draft documents should go online for public
> scrutiny as well as to give civil society time to react between meetings of
> the joint committee. The group agreed that there is a need for clarity
> about how this process will work, as well as for Agendas and Minutes to be
> posted online in a timely fashion.
> In terms of choosing actions, Anne Colgan suggested that we create some
> kind of an evaluation framework: e.g. a matrix with 'high impact versus low
> impact', 'doable within two years versus longer-term', etc. This should
> help identify actions that are SMART and suitable for the first action
> plan. Ultimately, our goal has to be actions that are best for the Irish
> people, and the evaluation frame should provide us a way to filter all the
> lists of existing or proposed actions in order to prioritise among them.
> Some discussion was had about whether or not we want to re-prioritise
> actions, which were prioritised during the consultation.
> Vanessa Liston asked whether case studies from other countries provide
> best practice guidelines for choosing actions to put in an OGP Action Plan.
> Denis Parfenov noted that OGP internationally collected and documented such
> experiences. Vanessa also asked about business representation in OGP,
> especially tech start-ups who wish to re-use public data.
> There was a wide-ranging discussion about the likely ambition of the first
> Ireland OGP Action Plan and the risk of too narrow a focus on data to the
> detriment of other democratic reform issues. It was noted that current OGP
> plans tend to be 10-20 pages long, with 9 to 16 commitments, but that there
> are no hard and fast rules. It was also noted that the less than 2 months
> remaining was a tight timeline.
> Nat O'Connor proposed that the group should constitute a Forum and
> continue to meet, to strengthen the role of civil society and help organise
> flows of information. This was discussed and agreed.
> Denis Parfenov suggested using the free platform DGROUPS to replace Google
> email, which some people cannot use. It was agreed to try out this platform
> and Denis undertook to circulate invitations to it. It was acknowledged
> that we need to ensure people can get information about Announcements, even
> if they are not in a position to read all emails discussing OGP issues.
> This may require two email lists in parallel or careful use of subject
> lines for emails.
> It was discussed and agreed that a smaller number of people from civil
> society should attend joint-meetings with the Department to keep these
> manageable. A number of people noted that they were not interested or
> available in this role. It was suggested that a diversity of organisations
> should attend, rather than any one organisation. Initially it was suggested
> that just 3 or 4 people should attend, but there was some suggestion that
> this could be 5 or 6.
> Some volunteers stepped forward to meet with officials to begin the formal
> process of jointly drafting Ireland's OGP Action Plan. The first meeting is
> scheduled for Thursday 6th February at 11.30am. The names put forward
> were: Anne Colgan; Andrew Jackson (An Taisce); Denis Parfenov (Active
> Citizen); Flora Fleischer (OKFN Ireland); and Nuala Haughey (TASC).
> Ivan Cooper (The Wheel) indicated that he would be available if required,
> but was constrained for time. Likewise, Antoin Ó Lachtnain (Digital Rights
> Ireland) noted his availability if required.
> The volunteers agreed to meet together in advance of the meeting with
> DPER, with Nuala Haughey to follow up.
> Nat O'Connor indicated that the DPER had responded favourably to a query
> about resources to support the initiation and development of civil
> society's contribution to the drafting of Ireland's first action plan and
> that money was available for a temporary, part-time assistant and technical
> support (see Annex 4). The group agreed to take up this offer and Nat
> O'Connor agreed to undertake an open process to find someone for this role
> and to provide line management for this role, which is to support all of
> civil society in this process (see Annex 5).
> The meeting concluded.
> *Annex 2: Civil Society OGP Forum*
> *(What follows are my personal reflections, not notes from the meeting -
> Nat)*
> On a number of occasions in 2013 an 'ad hoc group' of civil society
> activists and individuals (in a personal capacity) met to discuss OGP and
> to co-ordinate our response to the Government's announcement that Ireland
> was joining OGP. Members of this group had several meetings with officials
> from DPER's Government Reform Unit. Members also took part in the
> consultations run by Transparency International Ireland, which led to the
> report submitted to DPER towards the end of 2013.
> At our meetings with officials, DPER has often asked for a point of
> contact in order to be able to efficiently pass information to organised
> civil society active on issues relevant to OGP. There has been
> dissatisfaction expressed when information gets passed to chosen
> individuals (including me) rather than circulated more widely. I hope that
> the Forum will provide a more suitable, transparent way of sharing
> information. I also believe that it will strengthen the hand of civil
> society and individual activists who are interested in promoting openness
> and transparency in Government and public administration.
> The Forum will provide a space for discussion, where disagreements can be
> aired and thrashed out, before present a perhaps more united face to the
> wider world.
> The Forum will provide a way to quickly share information and knowledge
> among people who are (or become) interested in OGP. It should also provide
> a repository of information, so that new people can quickly get up to the
> speed and feel encouraged to get involved.
> The Forum will provide a way to hold accountable the small number of
> volunteers who are involved in the more detailed process of jointly
> drafting Ireland's OGP Action Plan. Just as officials will have to bring
> draft material to Government for final approval, the Forum will provide a
> space for civil society to consider and discuss draft actions before
> endorsing them. The Government would obviously like many, diverse
> organisations and individuals to endorse the final version of Ireland's
> first OGP Action Plan. If this is going to happen, the Forum needs a chance
> to see draft material and should see some of its concerns and suggestions
> reflected in the final text. The more our concerns are acknowledged and
> recognised in the Action Plan, the more likely it is that more, diverse
> organisations will endorse the end result. Conversely, if the eventual
> Action Plan is lacking in ambition or is too narrowly focused (and has
> ignored or dismissed the dozens of suggestions already articulated in the
> consultation report and elsewhere) than it should be no surprise if few
> organisations endorse the final product.
> That's it in a nutshell. The international Open Government Partnership
> represents a new way of working between civil society and officials working
> for the Government. In Ireland, it may provide a new basis for developing
> the relationship between the State and the community and voluntary sector,
> as well as between the State and citizens. It is a gamble, but the idea of
> the Forum is to make civil society's contribution as organised as possible,
> given resource constraints, and hopefully this will help bring about a
> better, more ambitious OGP Action Plan.
> *Annex 3: OGP Email Lists*
> In order to address the email issue, Denis Parfenov has kindly set up a
> new email list, using the DGROUPS platform, which is widely used by groups
> and communities in international development. This will work like Google
> groups/email, but it will not have the same technical barriers to use.
> To join, follow this link: https://dgroups.org/?j718mq90x1arcq1
> You will need to give a valid email address and sign up for this platform,
> which is free of charge.
> We discussed the fact that some people don't have time or inclination to
> engage in the full flow of discussion, so we need to have room for
> Announcements, so that no one misses a meeting or a new version of draft
> text to be read. I would suggest that we use the word Announcement in the
> subject line to draw people's attention to major things.
> *Annex 4: Offer of short-term funding from Evelyn O'Connor at DPER,
> Government Reform Unit*
> *From:* Evelyn O'Connor [mailto:Evelyn.O'Connor at per.gov.ie]
> *Sent:* 30 January 2014 15:40
> *To:* Nat O'Connor
> *Subject:* admin and technical support for civil society reps
> Dear Nat,
> I refer to our discussion last week and the request for some form of  a
> bursary (total of EURO 8k) to be provided to give administrative and technical
> support to civil society representatives to enable civil society
> representatives to work in partnership with Government over the coming 3
> months in developing an OGP National Action Plan.  Specifically I
> understand that the money would be used as follows:
> (1)    to employ someone for 3 months to give administrative support to
> the civil society reps - someone who would
> ·         act as a contact point between civil society groups themselves
> and also with us
> ·         organise meetings between the different groups as well as with
> relevant Govt Depts and agencies
> ·         develop contact lists for everyone so that we can be on a
> shared emailing system
> ·         work to support civil society generally - presumably attend
> meetings, take notes, make copies, follow up on issues etc etc
> (2)    In addition someone would need to be employed for the 3 month
> period to provide technical support
> ·         refresh the OGP website
> ·         rewrite parts of it
> ·         keep it up to date
> ·         monitor content
> ·         rebrand if appropriate
> The budget sought is EURO 6k for the admin support and c. EURO 2k for the
> technical support.
> In principle it seems that it will be possible for us to provide some form
> of a grant to provide administrative and technical support to civil society
> representatives for the period of 3 months as requested.
> There will be a number of things to sort out in terms of control
> requirements and governance arrangements.  It may be the case for example
> that we would have to give a monthly payment on foot of receipt of reports
> of the expenditure (activities and outputs delivered) as we will need to be
> satisfied that funds are spent for the purposes intended and that value for
> money obtains.  I appreciate that you would likely need payments to be made
> in advance to engage personnel to provide the supports you outlined.  We
> would also need to be given bank account details.
> We can discuss the matter further in the next few days.  I hope the
> meeting goes well this evening and we look forward to hearing from you.
> Best regards
> Evelyn
> Government Reform Unit
> *Annex 5: Temporary job offer*
> Ireland's Civil Society Open Government Partnership Forum is looking to
> hire a temporary, part-time assistant to help with administrative and
> web-based tasks, to help organise civil society's responses to Ireland's
> first OGP Action Plan, which is currently being drafted.
> TASC has agreed to co-ordinate the recruitment and management of this
> three-month part-time post role.
> *Deadline for expression of interest is Monday 10th February at 5pm. *If
> more than one person applies for this role, TASC will undertake a selection
> process based on work experience, knowledge of OGP and related areas and
> availability to start as soon as possible.
> All inquiries to: Nuala Haughey (nhaughey at tasc.ie)
> Role:
> ·         To provide secretarial/administrative support to the Civil
> Society OGP Forum, including taking Minutes of meetings and posting them
> online;
> ·         To act as a contact point between civil society groups;
> ·         To act as a contact point between civil society groups and the
> Department of Public Expenditure and Reform;
> ·         To refresh, update and manage the OGP Ireland website, working
> with the developer of the site, including repurposing it as the repository
> of information about the Forum and the process of drafting Ireland's first
> OGP Action Plan;
> ·         To co-ordinate diaries and arrange meetings between different
> groups as well as with relevant Government Departments and agencies;
> ·         To develop contact lists for everyone and to assist the
> migration of people from diverse existing email lists to one shared
> emailing system;
> ·         To compile a list of all projects involving civil society that
> are relevant to OGP;
> ·         To work to support civil society generally, including *inter
> alia* attending meetings, taking notes, making copies, following up on
> issues, etc.
> *Annex 6: Forum Communication Plan*
> Flora Fleischer suggested that we should have a Communication Plan, about
> how we share basic information about meetings with officials and the
> evolution of Ireland's OGP Action Plan in the coming weeks.
> What follows are some suggestions, which are open to discussion:
> ·         The initial list of civil society volunteers for the
> joint-committee meetings with DPER provide a 'point of contact' for DPER;
> ·         This will be supplemented by the administrator, when someone is
> appointed to that role, and the DGROUPS email list;
> ·         The administrator will put information on the OGP Ireland
> website, including Agenda, Minutes and other updates, so that the broader
> public can follow what is going on.
> ·         Everyone following OGP to date is invited to give the DGROUPS
> email list a go, to consolidate the various lists that currently exist;
> ·         Please use the word Announcement in the subject line, whenever
> there is a big piece of news, such as a meeting date, new draft material to
> be commented on, etc.
> ·         We will try to hold a Forum meeting every two weeks between now
> and the publication of Ireland's plan at the Europe Regional Meeting to be
> held in Dublin on 8-9 May 2014;
> ·         The volunteers attending the joint-meeting with officials at
> DPER are expected to attend Forum meetings to exchange information and
> ideas with other civil society activities and interested individuals;
> ·         The Forum also provides a space for individuals and groups with
> specific interests to come along and share their views, even if they cannot
> commit to attending all meetings;
> ·         Announcements of Forum meetings, as well as Agendas and
> Minutes, will be circulated by email and posted on the OGP Ireland website.
> *Nat O'Connor *MA PhD
> Director
> *TASC - Think-tank for Action on Social Change*
> *Second Floor, Castleriver House, 14-15 Parliament Street*
> *Dublin 2, Ireland*
> *Tel:     +353 1 6169050 <%2B353%201%206169050>*
> *Email: noconnor at tascnet.ie <noconnor at tascnet.ie>*
> *Web:   www.tascnet.ie <http://www.tascnet.ie>*
> *Blog:   www.progressive-economy.ie <http://www.progressive-economy.ie/>*
> *[image: Description: Description: cid:image001.gif at 01C9F643.59B9A470]*Research
> and Organisation Services Ltd. TA/ TASC. Registered Address: Hill House, 26
> Sion Hill Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9. Company No. 342993. CHY 14778.


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