This blog post is a summary of a $68,385.50 grant from Omidyar Network to the National Democratic Institute to support the convening of global parliamentary monitoring organizations (PMOs) in Washington DC from April 30 to May 2 to share learnings, tactics, and challenges around monitoring parliaments around the world. This information is also available in IATI-compliant XML.
Amount of grant: USD $68,385.50
Date that grant agreement was signed: April 10, 2012
- National Democratic Institute
- Sunlight Foundation
- Latin America Network for Legislative Transparency
In April 2012, the National Democratic Institute, the Sunlight Foundation, and the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency co-hosted a two-and-a-half-day conference for leading parliamentary monitoring organizations (PMOs) worldwide. The conference, which immediately followed Transparency Camp (Apr 28 – 29), sought to establish a framework and community to advocate for global legislative transparency norms. The grant also covered the cost for 10 international participants to attend Sunlight Foundation’s Transparency Camp.
The impetus for this convening came from a series of research reports examining the field of parliamentary monitoring, especially Andrew Mandelbaum’s comprehensive 2011 Global Survey of Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations which found over 191 PMOs that monitor more than 80 national parliaments worldwide. (The majority of which, interestingly, are in Latin America.) Greg Michener then published “Parliamentary Power to the People: Analyzing Online and Offline Strategies in Latin America.” (See my summary of Greg’s research here.) A couple weeks later and Daniel Dietrich of the German Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation published a report on “Re-use of Parliamentary Data.”
All of a sudden there was wealth of research, findings, and suggestions related to the parliamentary monitoring community — especially in terms of its use of technology and data — but there was not yet a global network in the same way that budget monitoring groups have the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency or extractive industry monitoring groups have the “Bridging Transparency and Technology” network.
The Parliamentary Monitoring Leaders Conference, therefore, had two major goals: 1) facilitate an international network of civil society organizations and civic hackers focused on legislative transparency and 2) develop common standards and expectations around what parliamentary openness means.
- Declaration on parliamentary openness
- Post-event press release
- Participant list
- Agenda and presentations
- How Open is Your Parliament survey
- Establish a network made up of geographically diverse and innovative parliamentary monitoring organizations to advance legislative data global norm setting.
- Facilitate consensus around a legislative transparency pledge that sets minimum legislative data transparency standards.
- Facilitate increased code sharing among legislative monitoring platforms.
Conclusions and findings:
All impact metrics have been met. The conversations that took place at the event continued at the Open Legislative Data conference in Paris earlier this month (see this great review post from Indigo Trust) and will also continue at the World e-Parliament Conference and Open Knowledge & Data Festival in September.
Looking forward it seems to me that there are some key challenges to push for more open legislative bodies and better analysis of their work:
- Developing national-level policy recommendations to govern those open data principles that are described in the declaration.
- Getting parliaments to adopt an agreed-upon global open data standard, perhaps Akomo Ntoso.
- More partnerships between PMOs and media companies such as CongresoVisble’s collaboration with El Espectador in Colombia so that the content gets to a wider public.
This is a super interesting project–particularly since much of the time civil society is dependent on national governments for the necessary data. As someone who previously worked at NDI, I am excited to see where this goes. Please keep the blog updated!