Strengthening Open government Partnership in Kenya: The Launch of National Action Plan III

It has been seven years since Kenya joined Open Government Partnership. It remains one of the 12 member states in Africa. The Kenyan constitution and the institutions it enshrines recognize a parliament and government that is open to the public and the public that is involved in the government’s work. The constitution elaborates on transparency, accountability and public participation in service delivery as principles that ensure good governance. The government needs to be opened up for public scrutiny to ensure that public participation thrives. Citizen participation is crucial because democratic accountability does not only occur within the confines of the periodicity of elections.

The National Action Plan III for the country’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) participation entrenches openness, accountability, inclusive governance and other good governance ideals already gained from the other two National Action Plans. Article 35 of the Kenya constitution on access to information together with article 38 on political rights provides foundation on which transparency and accountability are the core principles of good governance. OGP presents an opportunity for the government to ensure transparency and accountability of the Big 4 Agenda, ensure citizen participation, facilitate cost-efficient delivery and use of digital solutions to achieve outcome (Singoei, 2019)

So, what are the commitments of the NAP III
•To publish a central public register of company beneficial ownership information operating in the Republic of Kenya.
•To implement the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS), to improve transparency and reduce opportunities for corruption by enhancing openness and accessibility of the Public Procurement Information Portal
•To lower the barrier and increase access to geospatial data to support Health, Disaster Management, Food and Nutrition Security
•To improve public participation in development decision making for better and responsive service delivery
•To provide a comparative analysis of five key governance indices for their veracity and reliability to allow the society to evaluate and possibly redefine its perception towards performance of public sector and its specific institutions
•To build political support across National, County Government, Civil Society, Private sector, Pan African Institutions and other OGP participating Countries in Africa to share skills, knowledge, resources and expertise.

The President in June 2018 through Executive Order 2 of 2018 had further directed that all entities wishing to provide goods, works and services across all National and County Governments must disclose Beneficial Ownership Information online for public scrutiny. To ensure efficient and transparent public spending through its contracts, governments need to make strong commitments to open contracting. Through Usajili Portal, InfoNET transforms public procurement and beneficial ownership in kenya. The portal holds data on the past and existing tenders awarded for infrastructure development in counties and linking the same to the respective company awarded. The information is made open to public scrutiny.Technological innovations can contribute to identify and reduce corruption in Governments. We should use Big and Open Data to build better public accountability models that would enable us to tackle corruption with higher precision. In accordance to NAP III, InfoNET (through Uasajili) will ensure that it reduces corruption by making beneficial ownership information available to the public

Another commitment of the NAP III is to improve public participation. The basis of Citizen Participation ranges from freedom of expression to access of important information. Citizens need to understand their right to participate in governance issues. There is also little capacity building on the citizens to enable them engage in the process from an informed, structured and meaningful way. Citizens are often ill informed when participating in public forums, thereby compromising the quality of their participation. Public participation in budget sector hearings by the National Government will be more open and inclusive. NAP III is committed towards operationalizing the Constitutional requirement of public participation on all matters of policy, decision making and service delivery in Kenya. Sauti-Yetu a platform by InfoNET gives citizens a voice to amplify their suggestions, concerns and complaints directly to the responsible service provider. It also allows automatic escalation of non-responsive providers for action.It is developed as a tool to improve the ecosystems of public service delivery.

With the Launch of the National Action Plan (NAP III), InfoNET is committed to support the government in ensuring that we have an open government which is open to public scrutiny. A government that embraces citizen participation within all counties. A government that is based on openness, transparency, civic participation and technological innovations as key principles of achieving Vision 20130 and also the realization of the Big 4 Agenda.