Divide, rant and conquer: Addressing the difficulty of 2016 and the future of open government at #OGP16

Mor Rubinstein reports on one of the Civil Society Morning workshop sessions during the Open Government Partnership Summit. The structure of the session involved ‘ranting’ in turns with fellow attendees. As 2016 draws to a close and a new year begins, the session serves as a useful reminder of the cathartic and productive processes of ranting and listening as necessary steps toward progress.

About a month ago, I got an exciting email from the Open Government Partnership support unit in which I was invited to host a workshop during the civil society morning of the OGP Summit in Paris with Zuzana Wienk about the future of the open government movement.

img_20161207_121154401Session in action!

To be honest, 2016 was a very challenging year for open government, and in many ways, this movement often feels just unrealistic. Maybe citizens don’t really care about the facts anymore, but about their emotions. And those emotions are usually a combination of fear and hate of the other, the unknown and change. I was really upset and started to rant about it. A LOT. So when I got the opportunity to actually host a session, I thought – What if I could actually take other people’s rants into a productive space? How can we get all of the negative out, look it in the eye without being afraid of it, and then move from there to somewhere better?

What if I could actually take other people’s rants into a productive space? How can we get all of the negativity out, look it in the eye without being afraid of it, and then move from there to somewhere better?

Thanks to Google, I found the method of “Rant for a productive meeting”. Briefly, the principals are simple – divide the room into pairs, allow the couples to meet with one another for a minute. After that let the pairs rant in turns. For three minutes one person speaks and rants and the other person will listen and will prompt for reactions. In the next three minutes, the partners swap roles. After this rant period, a new question is raised into the room: “Now what?” Allow the participants to write (on a post-it of course) their thoughts and ideas on how to move forward. As the last step – share!

So we had around 16 participants from different regions in the session. You can find their thoughts just below. If you think any of ideas worth pursuing or discussing, just start a discussion about it on our forum here.

img_20161207_123820014Here they are in raw – ideas from our session

Here are the Open Government Future ideas that came out from the rant session (to make it an easier read, we divided them into themes):

Civil society

  • Linking and leveraging with other initiatives to achieve greater results.
  • Now, what? Civic monitoring not only related to National Actions Plans, sustained with a small percentage of funding.
  • We need to call out Open Washing
  • Be proactive to share data CSOs
  • More educational programs – Civic educations
  • Better coordination of national society.
  • How to sustain in the long term a municipal civil society monitoring ecosystem?
    • Solution: Every local context has project funded with public money.
    • Every (almost) project funded have correction issues.
    • Use a little part of the budget to the project to fund civic monitoring actions.


  • Empowering individuals legislatures / elected officials.
  • Dependencies of politicians & businesses
  • Government to engage the youth to support government openness.
  • Share knowledge within government institutions to avoid duplication – reinventing the wheel.
  • Engagement of the EU institutions

Relationships between government and citizens

  • Rebirth of the Socratic dialogue
  • Democratic participation digital tools (e.g.,. Parliament hackathons)


  • Opinions != Facts
  • We need fact checking

Process of OGP

  • For OGP, the first five years have been about quantity, next five years should be about quality.
  • Now, what? Locally based processes. Cities involved in subnational OGP is not enough.
  • OGP needs to connect more deliberately with international processes (SDG, FFD, etc.)
  • Use innovative ways to share data
  • Clarify engagement and action opportunities for civil society with OGP and for opposition parties.
  • OGP needs to “Speak” to the citizens, adapting its communications tools and vocabulary / bridging the civil society and citizens gap.
  • A strategic planning event with CSO steering committee participation in a near future OGP, what’s next?
  • Learn from other’s experience and build on lessons learnt.
  • We need to make OGP sexier! (Link with other related agendas, better comms, better citizen language).
  • Clear and coordinate M&E framework to track changes over time
  • Integrating OGP into the national development agenda.
  • OGP agenda should transcend political transitions or change of government or agenda of a country e.g. – Brexit, Trump.

I hope that out of these ideas, we can get a better and vibrant open government community in 2017!


Credit: Open Government Partnership/Photograph by Evan Abramson