A number of PMOs will be arriving in Poland tomorrow for the Personal Democracy Forum conference. I’ve been working with a number of PMO colleagues to do some pre-unconference coordination (is that an oxymoron?) in the hope of maximizing our use of time. As I mentioned last week, one potential idea for discussion is sharing lessons learned from PMO efforts to engage citizens in parliamentary processes online. This brief presentation forwarded by one participant, Iveta Kazoka of Providus (Latvia), has me really excited for the discussion. Alina Ostling, author of this working paper on the impacts of PMO tech projects, has also agreed to join in.
The other topic that has generated some interest is designing a process and methodology for the PMO community to monitor parliamentary compliance with the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness. Matej Kurian of TI Slovakia and Karolis Granickas of TI Lithuania, who have been doing some thinking around this issue, have offered to facilitate the discussion and lend their perspectives. Agustina De Luca of Directorio Legislativo, representing the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency (LALT Network), will be Skyping in to share their experience.
In the hope of stimulating this conversation in the broader PMO community, I’m offering the following outline of a proposal. All ideas and feedback are welcome. A summary of points made at the conference and on email will be made available in the wake of the conference.
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Discussion Document: Monitoring Parliamentary Compliance with the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness
PMOs worldwide have expressed interest in monitoring parliamentary compliance with the Declaration, given its potential to strengthen leverage in advocating for greater parliamentary openness and accountability at the country-level. The initial success of the LALT Network in stirring reform discussions through its Index of Legislative Transparency demonstrates the potential for regional monitoring of parliamentary performance on openness. A global tool (based upon this index and other PMO tools) for monitoring openness would stimulate global PMO cooperation, provide access to valuable information on parliamentary openness policies and practices worldwide, and enable increased accountability and competition among parliaments. The information gathered by PMOs would be delivered through a flexible platform (as well as through API and bulk download) that enables ad hoc comparison and customized data visualization, and facilitates knowledge sharing and collaborative analysis. The knowledge created would serve as a valuable resource to PMOs, transparency advocates and reformist members of parliament (MPs) in formulating reform recommendations and in advocating for their adoption.
- “[Enable] citizens to be informed about the work of parliament, [empower] citizens to engage in the legislative process, [and allow] citizens to hold parliamentarians to account and [ensure] that citizens’ interests are represented” (Declaration on Parliamentary Openness, Preamble).
- Strengthen the visibility of the PMO community and bolster the ability of PMOs, activists and MPs to foster parliamentary reforms that lead to increased inclusion and participation by the public.
- Harness collaboration among the global PMO community to increase public awareness and pressure on parliaments to comply with the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness.
- Facilitate knowledge creation and sharing among PMOs on parliamentary openness and citizen engagement policies and practices.
Interested members of the global PMO community would conduct monitoring of parliamentary compliance with the Declaration, including collecting information on openness policies and their implementation, through the following steps:
- Foster consensus on an approach to monitoring parliamentary compliance with the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness, February-April 2013. PMOs would agree upon goals and objectives; a process for ensuring broad inclusion and cooperation in the development of a monitoring methodology; an approach to monitoring; and the organization and design of results presentation and technology tools.
- Implement a collaborative process to develop a common monitoring methodology and select technology tools to facilitate data collection, data visualization, and knowledge sharing, February-July, 2013. Using the PMO Network Google Group, collaborative editing tools (e.g. Etherpad), the OpeningParliament blog, webinars and other technologies, PMOs would develop a common methodology for monitoring parliamentary compliance with the Declaration worldwide. An ad hoc working group would be formed to review prior methodologies used to monitor parliamentary and government openness; advise on data collection, presentation, and knowledge sharing issues; and explore potential technologies for undertaking these activities. To ensure that consultations are broad based, PMO leads from a variety of regions or participating in multiple networks would be tasked with leading webinars and discussions aimed at ensuring the participation of interested groups.
- Collect data on compliance with the Declaration, including relevant policies and practices, July 2013-September 2014. Recognizing differences in parliamentary calendars, PMO workflows and other considerations, initial data collection would take place over one calendar year (although results would begin to be posted once a sufficient number have been completed). One PMO per parliament would be responsible for uploading data into the data collection tool (e.g. Indaba) and rating parliamentary compliance within the framework of the adopted methodology. However, where multiple PMOs exist in a given country, a process would be developed for the other groups would have an opportunity to add, review and dispute the results prior to publication.
- Analyze, visualize and share collected data, January-September 2014. Once results are released, PMOs would be encouraged to conduct analyses, develop recommendations and create visualizations using the variety of tools available. This knowledge would be shared through the PMO Network Google Group, the OpeningParliament blog, and other tools, to facilitate collaboration and knowledge reuse.
- Publicize the results, September 2014. The compliance project would be officially launched on the International Day of Democracy, September 15, 2014. A global event would be convened where PMOs can demonstrate their work to parliamentary and open data community members. In addition, PMOs would be encouraged to host their own in-country events to maximize publicity received.
- Continued monitoring, sharing and engagement, September 2014-Ongoing. In the wake of the project’s official launch, PMOs would continue to monitor parliamentary compliance with the Declaration, create shared knowledge and engage parliaments using the resulting information.
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