The Hub Pilots Its First OpenGov-Themed Study Visit for an International Delegation.
The Open Gov Hub have organised a unique study visit for an international delegation of 13 representatives/ Mayor’s, Deputy Mayor’s, Directors from different Municipalities across Albania, to learn about how to make their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to their citizens. The visit is co-organized and co-planned with the Association of Albanian Municipalities, the association which represents all 61 municipalities in the country and offers their leaders opportunities for training, networking and development. the Albanian Local Authority Delegation have attend a series of events, meetings and a training related to open government reforms in Washington, D.C. from March 21st-25th, 2018.
- Facilitate exposure to global open government good practices and peer learning between the Albanian mayors to improve their governing and citizen engagement;
- Connect mayors of municipalities to successful business leaders and others from the Albanian diaspora in the US to help attract diaspora investment and partnerships to support their municipal economic development projects;
- Help mayors learn from Washington, D.C. and neighboring municipalities in Virginia and Maryland Virginia) about how they offer public services efficiently and effectively to their communities, transparency and anti-corruption practices, and explore international cooperation;
- Pilot a new Introduction to Open Government training curriculum that the Open Gov Hub is developing based on the many visiting international delegations it has hosted for visits over the last few years;
Explore if it will be possible to replicate this Mayors Study Visit model (bring several mayors from across municipalities in one country) to possibly replicate with other countries in the future – building on the Open Gov Hub’s existing collaborations around bringing more open government to the local level.
Target audiences to meet with:
- US officials – both national level and municipal counterparts, interested in US-Balkan cooperation or in exchanging good practices on open government
- US civil society
- Albanian diaspora representatives
This rich study visit have provided an immense number of opportunities for the delegation to participate in dialogue and exchange with a wide variety of US and international organisations. This series of events has been filled with exchanging ideas, building skills, and learning from diverse counterparts.
During this visit we have arrange several meetings for this delegation as follow:
First Day Arrival: Wednesday – 03/21
Second Day : Thursday – 03/22
A highlight of some of the first day of meetings included:
- Arlington County, Virginia, Dept of Environmental Services, Director- Richard Best
- Washington, Open Gov Office, Director – Traci L. Hughes
- Library of Congress visit
Third Day: Friday – 03/23, Training 101 at OpenGovHub Second Part
Their second day focused on a practical Introduction to Open Government training, along with numerous additional meetings both with some government representatives (including from the State Department) as well as numerous member NGOs from the Open Gov Hub network.
As part of their training, each mayor completed their own “Open Government Action Plan,” outlining concrete goals and steps they will take in the next 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year to implement open government reforms in their municipality, with some ongoing support from the Open Gov Hub.
- OpenGov Hub, Director – Nada ZOHDY
- Feed Back Labs, Research and Learning Senior Manager – Megan Campbell
- Development Gateway, CEO – Jean-Louis Sarbib
- State Department – ECA Collaboratory, Usra Ghazi and 6 of her Colleagues
- NDI – Sarah Welsh, Robert Benjamin, Director of Central & Eastern Europe Programs
- action plans/commitments; sign pledges and distribute certificates; with follow up conversation in 4 months , 6 Months and 1 Year
- IRI – Lucas Jensen, Carrie Schenkel
- Partnership for Transparency- Lar Jeurling
- Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo in United States of America- H.E. Vlora ÇITAKU
- Albanian Diaspora – Washington Plaza
Fourth Day: Saturday – 03/24, Meeting
The final day of the program focused on building bridges of cooperation between the mayors and the large Albanian American diaspora community.
- Embassy of the Republic of Albania in United States of America – H.E. Floreta FABER
Fifth Day – Departure : Sunday – 03/25
The mayors received valuable advice about how to improve open government and public services in their home cities
They also established connections with a wide variety of partners for ongoing partnership – for example, for future study visits, virtual exchanges for ongoing learning.
Some highlights included visits to their counterparts in Arlington County government, where they heard about Arlington’s evolution over the last 50 years from a typical post-WWII American city/suburb to a leading model of smart growth that integrates multiple transportation modes for its citizens, reducing traffic and reliance on cars and increasing quality of life and property values for residents, which has translated into a growing population for Arlington (which also means a growing tax base).
In preparation for this program Open Gov Hub developed a signature Introduction to Open Government (“OpenGov 101” training)
Mayors openly shared about their challenges and eagerly participated and listen to ideas and advice and suggestions from all those they met with.
Another highly productive outcome was the interactions with USG. In fact, this meeting was the first time ever in which US State Department representatives directly met with a group of Albanian mayors, to explore how to improve bilateral cooperation. In the meetings they discussed continuing the relationship through the Albanian Association of Municipalities.
Explored partnerships with diaspora as well, bridge of cooperation. Diaspora including Albanian American businessmen expressed their interest in economically investing back home, however their number concern being worried that some of their funds would be wasted through corruption. This provided an additional incentive for the mayors to continue to tackle corruption in their own municipalities back home, (because of the opportunity for greater investments. )
OGH trained them in global open government good practices and offered a wide variety of case studies to inspire (from citizen monitoring to ensure the delivery of textbooks in the Philippines to open data portals used to help stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship and more) and instruct them in becoming more transparent, accountable, participatory, government.
This was a great activity involving allot of different organisation and institutions thanks to the support of OpenGovHub Team