Challenges to Vietnam in participating in and complying with OGP’s principles and possibility of overcoming

The article below here includes expert ideas and additional analyses on challenges to Vietnam from participation in and compliance with OGP’s principles. The content is extracted from the Study on the Prospect of Vietnam’s Participation in the Open Government Partnership Initiative (OGP) which was conducted by Vietnam OGP research team in 2016.

The culture of secrecy in governance

This problem can be seen as the biggest and most serious hindrance to the participation and implementation of OGP in Vietnam. The culture of secrecy makes negative impacts on earning the points and implementing criteria for Fiscal Transparency. Access to Information and Asset Disclosure criteria are impacted directly while Citizen Engagement criterion is impacted indirectly.

Although since Doi Moi (1986) the Vietnamese State apparatus has operated toward the direction of more openness, transparency in order to follow the general world trend, influence of culture of secrecy appears to be dominant. Ordinance No.30/2000/PL-UBTVQH10 dated on 28/12/2000 of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Protection of State Secrets emphasizes that “protection of state secrets is an essential task of the Socialist Republic State of Vietnam”. Law on Access to Information, meanwhile, does not have any similar regulations to underline the importance of implementation of the right to access to information enshrined in the Constitution. Compared with other countries, scope defined as “state secrets” in the Vietnamese Law is still broad. For example, Law on Protection of State Secrets of Japan specifies only four areas needed to be protected as secrecy, namely defence, foreign affairs, anti-terrorism and counter-intelligence. In Vietnam, there are at least 15 categories of information defined as state secrets and classified as strictly confidential and top secret, including:

  • The domestic and foreign lines and policies of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which are not or have not yet been publicized.
  • The national strategic reserves; data on State budget proposals and settlement regarding domains not yet publicized; plans on money issuance, safety lock of each money sample and papers with monetary value; unpublicized schemes or plans for money recovery and change;
  • The volume of money printed, issued; reserve money in Vietnam Dong and foreign currencies; data on cash overspending and inflation, not yet publicized; plans on prices of strategic commodities under the State management, which have not yet been publicized;
  • Scientific works, inventions, patents, utility solutions, professional know-hows of special importance for national defence, security, economy, sciences, technologies, which have not yet been publicized by the State;
  • Plans for export, import of special commodities which occupy important position in the national development and defence, which are not or have not yet been publicized;

The scope of information classified above is rather extensive, including information vitally necessary for enterprises and people. Furthermore, many terminologies are very vague and ambiguous in the existing legal documents on state secrets, such as “special importance for national defence, security, economy, sciences, technology” or “commodities which occupy important position in the national development and defence”. Such terminologies are likely to be arbitrarily utilized by authorities to intensify and maintain the culture of secrecy within the public agencies.

In relation to OGP, some existing regulations on protection of state secrets in financial area have become barriers against the greater fiscal transparency. For instance, Circular No.56/2013/TT-BCA-A81 dated 13/11/2013 of Ministry of Public Security stipulated that draft of state budget proposals submitted to competent administrative authorities before submitting to the National Assembly for approval constitute state secrets at level 1 (Article1). Hence, the executive’s budget proposals to the National Assembly shall be considered as secret documents because such documents contain budget proposals that have not yet been approved by the National Assembly. The regulation, in fact, is not compatible with the 2015 Law on State Budget which provides that state budget proposals, including figures and explanatory report, have to be publicized within 5 days after the date on which the Government submits state budget proposals to the National Assembly. Therefore, it is important to observe whether the aforementioned regulation will be revised in Law on State Secrets (preparation of which has been proposed)
In accordance with existing regulations of the law, information classified in the list of state secrets is protected by the Penal Code. According to Articles 263, 264 of the 1999 Penal Code (amended in 2009), those who deliberately disclose State secrets or appropriate, trade in and/or destroy State secret documents shall be sentenced to between two and seven years of imprisonment; committing the crime and causing serious consequences, the offenders shall be sentenced to between five and ten years of imprisonment; committing the crime and causing very serious or particularly serious consequences, the offenders shall be sentenced to between ten and fifteen years of imprisonment. Those who unintentionally disclose State secrets or lose State secret documents shall be sentenced to between six months and three years of imprisonment depending on seriousness of the committed acts.

The culture of state secrets was established and consolidated within the Vietnamese political system as a prerequisite to guarantee the victory in the struggle for country’s independence and the wars against the French and American invasion. The current system of legal regulations on state secrets, including Ordinance on Protection of State Secrets, various decisions of the Prime Minister and Minister of Public Security, severe sanctions of the Penal Code, which were established and have been implemented consistently, have shaped culture and mindset of cadres, public servants. Meanwhile, the system of legal regulations ensuring the right to access to information was germinated in 1998 by the Government Decree No.29/1998/NĐ-CP dated 11/05/1998 on Regulations of Implementation of Democracy in Communes. Afterwards, other Laws passed by the National Assembly started to stipulate openness, transparency such as the 2002 Law on State Budget, the 2005 Law on Anti-Corruption, and the 2005 Law on State Audit. According to a research titled “Press with the Right to Access to Information” sponsored by the World Bank, Vietnam has now had 50 Laws, Ordinances containing regulations regarding the right to access to information “but they only regulate responsibility for openness, transparency and information provision of a specific domain, and are in the absence of a concrete legal mechanism for effectively protecting this right. The legal documents contain inconsistencies, overlaps and have yet to meet the practical demands in Vietnam as well as other needs of a legal system operating in a continually developing society”.

Law on Access to Information passed by the National Assembly on 6/4/2016 is a step forward guaranteeing people’s right to information. The Law provides for principles in ensuring the right to access to information, subjects that implement the right, scope of and responsibility for information provision, information to be publicized, forms and time for publication, information provision on request, and measures for implementation of citizen’s right to information and responsibilities of the state agencies. The Law will facilitate people’s demand of information access and implementation of openness, transparency performed by cadres, public servants. For the first time, instead of seeking different texts of laws and by-laws on access to information, people, enterprises and cadres, public servants may search all related basic regulations in only one text of law. Concurrently, for the first time in Vietnam a criminal sanction is to be imposed, by the 2015 Penal Code (whose effect is pending), on the crime of infringing the right to freedom of speech, freedom of press, and access to information. Accordingly, “The persons, who use force, threaten to use force or other expedients to obstruct citizens from exercising the right to freedom of speech, freedom of press, to access information and to demonstrate; have been disciplined or administratively sanctioned for one of such acts but continue to violate, shall be sentenced to non-custodial rehabilitation for up to 2 years or imprisonment of between 3 months and 2 years.”

However, the 2016 Law on Access to Information also specifies that categories of information belonging to state secrets are inaccessible for citizens (Article 6). As a result, the level of “openness” of the Law on Access to Information essentially depends on contents of the Law on State Secrets which is being proposed. At present, current regulations giving competence to only the executive agencies, namely heads of central agencies and Public Security Minister to set up the list of state secrets are creating formidable barriers to people’s right to information. If these regulations are not amended by the Law on State Secrets, it will be likely to hinder the realization of the first three principles of OGP, namely Access to Information, Fiscal Transparency and Asset Disclosure.

In short, the Law on Access to Information is not enough. Vietnam must introduce a law on protection of state secrets, improving the existing Ordinance to make sure that agencies, cadres, public servants serving in the executive branch are unable to decide on the list of state secrets and arbitrarily use the secret stamp. The forthcoming Law on Protection of State Secrets “ needs to legalize regulations towards: classifying information into secret, highly secret and top secrets; needs to clearly define content belonging to secrecy of ministries, agencies; provides for serious sanctions on the acts taken by the state agencies abusing the Secret Stamp; stipulates that restrictions imposed on information has to be compatible with international standards and Constitution, not to restrict the right to information and has to be decided by the National Assembly rather than the executive agencies in order to avoid the arbitrariness in affixing the secret stamp on documents, making difficult for state agencies when defining their responsibilities on classifying published information, form of publication and time; and specify the time limitation of declassifying information in conformity with Law on Archives.”

The culture of secrecy therefore seems to be the biggest and most essential hindrance not only to the campaign of participation in but also to the implementation of OGP commitments in case Vietnam decides to join this institution. Nevertheless, there are some prospects to overcome this hindrance in the coming time, although it’s hard to foresee the degree and progress of those prospects.

The first prospect is based on the fact that the promulgation of the Law on Access to Information binds the state agencies, cadres, public servants by statutory and constitutional obligations to perform all their activities with openness and transparency, while people are entitled to the statutory and constitutional right to demand and supervise the state agencies and cadres, public servants respecting and fulfilling their obligations.

Concretization of a constitutional right by the law is vitally important to ensure that right to be respected and implemented in Vietnam. For human rights and citizen’s rights, the state often invokes the unavailability of relevant laws to refuse its own obligation to guarantee these rights, despite the recognition of constitution. In other words, when the rights are in statutory status, the state has no reason to “delay”, “prevent” people from enjoying their own rights. People may invoke statutory rules (usually more concrete and detailed than those of the constitution) to demand state agencies to respect and implement their rights.

The second prospect originates from the Implementation Plan of the Law on Access to Information built by the Government. The Implementation Plan, along with amendment of the Law on Anti-corruption, preparation of the Law on Protection of State Secrets (upgraded from Ordinance on Protection of State Secrets) and preparation of the Law on Democracy Implementation at the grassroots level (upgraded from Ordinance on Democracy Implementation in Communes- ideas are being raised), will create a comprehensive legal framework ever to ensure openness, transparency and accountability of Vietnamese state agencies’ activities. In this context, whether the state agencies and cadres, public servants want it or not, they must change their mindset, actions and their attitude towards people. In other words, when substantial changes of the law are brought about, there will be enormous shift from secrecy culture to culture of openness, transparency in governance.

The third prospect comes from the deeper and broader international integration of Vietnam. The more international institutions, human rights treaties and trade agreements Vietnam participates in, the greater the demands, coming from not only people but also from partners and international community, for governance reform towards openness, transparency and accountability that must be responded to. In other words, international integration is one of the substantial driving forces and opportunities to minimize and eliminate secrecy culture from national governance in Vietnam.

“Interest groups” and limited pressure from people and enterprises

Secrecy culture, as discussed above, has been maintained and consolidated within the Vietnamese state apparatus for a long time, while culture of transparency has recently been established. Changing public duty performance from culture of secrecy to culture of transparency cannot take place speedily. Because information means power, thus sharing information means sharing power and accepting external monitoring. The changes do not come automatically, but need a strong commitment from the State, including highest leaders, and pressure, demands from people and enterprises for transparency.

In other words, promoting Open Government needs to have both legal tool and changes of culture, attitude, mindset, and behaviours of cadres, public servants in the public apparatus. Besides, only if the principles of Open Government are applied and implemented will the State be under a constant and sufficiently strong pressure from people and enterprises.

More specifically, in relation to the first aspect, many experts responded that although the trend of institutional reform towards openness, transparency has been dominant in Vietnam, it did and will probably confront the resistance from interest groups within the political system. There are different groups acting with different motivations, including at least the following:

  • Group of those who are loyal to and having interests attached with the one-party-political system (mainly in organizations of the Communist Party and partly in the state and mass social organizations). They may assume that OGP is “so open” that it seriously threatens the highly closed way of operation of the Communist Party, thus threatening the current political regime in Vietnam. According to the group’s assumption, all OGP’s criteria contain potential risks to stability of the existing political system and the criteria of Access to Information and Citizen Engagement may be seen as the riskiest.
  • Group of those who are benefiting from the secrecy culture of the state apparatus (mainly in the state agencies, particularly ones from the executive branch). They are likely to be afraid that OGP will not only take away the privileges they enjoy by concealing information, but also impose obligations on them and put them under likelihood of being petitioned, even falling into legal procedures because their acts of power abuse and corruption would be easily discovered in the context that OGP criteria on openness, transparency, accountability are fully implemented. According to the group’s assumption, all OGP criteria contain potential risks, but the ones on Fiscal Transparency, Asset Disclosure and Access to Information may be seen as the riskiest.

Regarding the second aspect, many experts responded that the expectation in which people and enterprises put persistent pressure and make claim on continual and full transparency seems impossible. Even though such pressure and claim occur frequently and are increasing in Vietnam, it is necessary to understand that people and enterprise only put pressure when they are interested in and / or when their benefits are affected. In other words, pressure and demands for transparency by people and enterprises are “case by case”, associated with interests of each social group and enterprises, unsystematic and unconnected. A typical example can be seen from strikes of workers in Ho Chi Minh City to protest Article 60 of the Law on Social Insurance which rejected one-time payment. The strike had forced the National Assembly to pass a resolution amending the aforementioned Article just before the Law took its effect. In the development of Vietnamese legislative process, this was the first time that a Law had to be revised before being enforced. However, it is noticeable that transparency of Open Government appears to be a broad concept that is not associated with any concrete benefit. Therefore, mobilizing support and constant pressures from people on state apparatus’ transparency will not be easy, particularly in the context that almost all people have yet to attach great importance to democracy, democratic tradition is poor and practicing democracy faces with many hindrances in Vietnam today.

Regarding enterprises, apart from features similar to those of people in general, diverse interests and trends of Vietnamese enterprises render difficult joint pressures and demands for openness, transparency from the state apparatus. According to some interviewed experts, it is incorrect to think that all Vietnamese enterprises will be in favour of OGP. OGP supporting groups would mainly be enterprises with foreign capital (though not all of them). The next ones are medium and small domestic enterprises. These supporting groups are enterprises having business experiences in open and transparent climates (FDI enterprises) and/or enterprises who are victims of harassment from government officials. Meanwhile, groups who do not support or event object OGP would be state owned enterprises (though not all of them) and enterprises who are “backyards” of government officials and State owned enterprises enjoying benefits from the secrecy culture of the state apparatus’ activities.

Regarding prospect of change, it is noticeable that “interest groups” will always exist, ineradicable in any circumstances and any institutions. Thus, it is only possible to curb their negative influences. In short term, one can hardly see a clear prospect of controlling interest groups in Vietnam. The situation may even be worse as the Communist Party itself is naturally an interest group. Besides, the Vietnamese political system has in reality established many other major interest groups, namely the army, pubic security force- which grip tremendous power, nearly absolute power that is untouchable.

Nevertheless, in the past few years, control of interest groups has been discussed more and more widely, even within the Communist Party, forums of the National Assembly and the press. In fact, there have been some positive signals in favour of controlling some interest groups such as state owned enterprises, system of administrative and judicial agencies. Although the progress has been slow and has yet to be sustainable, it is possible that in the long run, effectiveness of controlling interest groups will be increased together with the improvements of institutions on information access and the needs of international integration.

In relation to the second aspect of the pressure from people and enterprises, there have been a number of signals indicating that people and enterprises are more and more courageous in voicing their criticism about bureaucratic and corrupt acts committed by the public agencies and organs. Improvement of legal framework for the right to information and anti-corruption in recent and the coming years will make more favourable conditions for people and enterprises to put pressure on the government. However, due to special features of the Vietnamese political system, people and enterprises’ pressure will be limited both in scope and degree. In the short run, people and enterprises will mainly be allowed to express their claim on minor corruption cases committed by the local governments. High ranking politicians and some parts of the political system, such as Committees of the Party, powerful ministries (defence and public security) will be still “restricted areas” to any criticisms and pressures from inside country.

Weak civil society organizations and difficulties of the domestic press

The third challenge, according to the interviewed experts is the absence of strong civil society organizations and independent press.

Regarding the first aspect, the growth of civil society organizations shall be a vital important condition, if not a prerequisite, for a country to participate in as well as comply with OGP’s principles. As analysed in previous parts, at the beginning of the participation process, OGP requires that the formulation of National Action Plan needs to be in collaboration between the state and civil society organizations. Furthermore, in its organizational structure and operational principles, OGP also requires the involvement of civil society organizations as a companion of the state.

Meanwhile, civil society is still to be treated as a sensitive matter in Vietnam. The term civil society itself has not yet been recognized officially by the Vietnamese Communist Party and the State, while the system of political-social organizations, political-social-occupational organizations, non-governmental organizations, community based organizations, etc. in Vietnam remain quite complex. If these various organizations are defined as civil society organizations, it can be seen that there is a split of opinion on OGP among organizations. Many interviewed experts responded that political-social organizations, political-social-occupational organizations (the “extended arms of the Communist Party’’) would tend to express their opinions about OGP based on the official point of view of the State. Some of these organizations, particularly those benefiting from secrecy culture of the Vietnamese political system, may even react negatively to OGP. Non-governmental organizations and community- based organizations will be likely to have more positive responses to OGP, but their support will not be as strong as that in other countries due to their own limited number, interaction, capacity, professionalism, resources as well as the restricted political-legal climate affecting their activities in Vietnam. Apart from this, a number of civil society organizations in Vietnam, including non-governmental, community-based organizations, have not complied with the principle of openness, transparency, accountability- the reason making them reluctant to support OGP.

In summary, due to various reasons, although the number of civil society organizations in Vietnam is quite large, their activities remain insubstantial and their organizing, mobilizing, monitoring and criticizing capacities remain weak. Within this context, in the short run, civil society organizations will face challenges when they retain positions both as partner and as stakeholders in promoting the state’s openness, transparency and accountability specified by OGP.

Regarding the second aspect, it is recognised that in any countries, including Vietnam, the press is always the pioneer in bolstering the State’s openness, transparency and accountability. The reason is that the more open, transparent and accountable the state apparatus is, the more benefits the press enjoys. In contrary, wherever irrational regulations protecting state secrets are imposed, journalists will confront obstacles and risks when doing their job.

In Vietnam, the voice of the press in requesting changes in regulations on state secrets and promotion of openness, transparency and accountability has so far been limited- because it is the “touch” on the “nerve” of the political system. This situation is rather different from other countries where the press always raises its strong voice on the above matters. For example, on 12 December 2014 the Japanese Times Online published a commentary, by Jeff Kingston, on State Secret Law that had just been passed. The commentary claimed that “On Dec. 10, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new special secrets law took effect despite overwhelming public opposition. The new law gives bureaucrats enormous powers to withhold information produced in the course of their public duties that they deem a secret — entirely at their own discretion — and with no effective oversight mechanism to question or overturn such designations. The law also grants the government powers to imprison whistle-blowers, and prohibits disclosure of classified material even if its intention is to protect the public interest. This Draconian law also gives the government power to imprison journalists merely for soliciting information that is classified a secret”. The Association of Japanese Journalists issued its statement saying that the law “covers the people’s eyes, ears and mouth and seize their freedom of the press and speech.” The Japan Civil Liberties Union, consisting of lawyers and legal scholars, also issued a statement on Dec. 8 protesting the law because “it inappropriately restricts citizens’ right to know.” The statement also criticized the law’s stipulation that citizens can be punished if they abet in the leaking of state secrets.

Although there have been some shortcomings in connection with civil society organizations, potentials for changes are visible. Basically, the existing shortcomings of the civil society organizations are caused by the institutional environment. This cause will be automatically addressed once Vietnam joins OGP. Joining OGP also means that the State will make more favourable institutional conditions for the civil society organizations, NGOs to play their own important roles in implementing commitments for Open Government. In that context, the Vietnamese civil society organizations, with their tradition and available potentialities, will be completely able to undertake the role as a partner of the state to implement OGP’s commitments. In other words, if being facilitated by the State, civil society organizations, NGOs will come together, take part in and make effective contributions not only on OGP but also on other fields.

Prospect of changes has also been expressed through the attitude of the Vietnamese Communist Party and State to civil society organizations. Although still keeping a hesitating attitude as well as tight and authoritative control, it is an undeniable fact that during the last decade the Vietnamese Communist Party and State have introduced ‘more loosened’ policies and laws, facilitating establishment and operation of civil society organizations. This trend is validated by the increase of points for civil liberties, as discussed above.

In relation to the press, prospect of change seems to be more difficult. Improvement of the press in the coming time is feasible but will take time. The most significant improvement that can be expected is associated with progress of the Law on Access to Information. It is visible that the stakeholder who will benefit the most from the progress of this law on will be the press. Promulgation of Law on Access to Information and sub-law documents, will form a favourable legal base for the press to expose to the public the acts of power abuse and corruption within the state apparatus. It will also help minimize the risks that the press, particularly investigating press, always face when doing its job in the areas of public governance.

Nevertheless, one cannot expect a turning point for freedom of the press in Vietnam in the short run because freedom of the press retains the special sensitivity affecting stability of one-party regime. On the contrary, the recent development indicates that the Vietnamese Communist Party and State have tried to tighten its grip on the press. Evidences can be found through the newly promulgated Law on the Press. Although there were some changes of this law, it does not introduce any “breakthrough” regulations for independence and freedom of the press. In this context, the press will use “self-censorship” to avoid discussing OGP or raise its voice with timidity on this topic. The strong oppositions from the Japanese press (as mentioned above) are impossible to appear in Vietnam in the near future.

With the development of information technology and social networks, sharing and disseminating information among citizens becomes easier and inexpensive. In the past time, the traditional press was only the channel to spread information to people and the government could easily control the information on this channel. Today, with one third of the population using Facebook, most of them use on a daily basis, a lot of “self-censored” information is widely shared in social networks. If the number of people who know and discuss a certain matter increases, it will exert pressure on the government and officials, forcing them to express their opinions. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had to express his apology for his convoy entering in the walking street of Hoi An. Most recently, two provincial party’s secretaries have had to address personal matters concerning them shared in social networks. These cases show that it is becoming more difficult for government and authorised persons to control and orient public opinion. As a consequence, the government should be more proactive in publishing information, strengthening transparency and accountability so as to maintain people’s support. Therefore, social networks have a real impact on the positive attitude of the government to the fundamental principle of OGP.

Lack of concrete, substantial support, and assistance from the development partners.

The fourth challenge in process of advocating for Vietnam to join OGP is the absence of concrete, substantial support and assistance from the development partners. Results of the present research and interviews show that, in principle, the development partners are all supporting OGP as they support Vietnam to build good governance based on openness, transparency, accountability and people’s participation. However, at present there have not been any development partners considering making the support for Vietnam to take part in OGP as an objective of its own agenda. In this aspect, OGP does not enjoy as many favourable conditions as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative does (EITI). Commitment from the development partners for Vietnam to join EITI is clear.

For instance, the Norway cooperative strategy clearly defines that “Norway encourages Vietnam to take part in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative”. EITI was mentioned in the Ninth Dialogue on anti-corruption on the theme of “Anti-corruption in management and extraction of mineral resources” held by the Office of Central Steering Committee on Anti-corruption, the Government Inspectorate in cooperation with the Swedish Embassy. At the dialogue, the Swedish Ambassador assured that “EITI is an effective mechanism for Vietnam to transparantize and fight corruption in the field of mineral extraction”. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) also supported the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which is assigned by the government as the lead agency in EITI affairs, to conduct a research on EITI in 2013. Even with the positive supports of different development partners during the past 10 years, Vietnam has yet to decide to join the EITI initiative, though the demands for management on mineral extraction have been urgent. This evidently shows how challenging Vietnam’s participation in OGP will be without real support and assistance from the development partners.

It can be understood that one of the reasons making the development partners rather “indifferent” is that OGP is still a new topic in Vietnam. In fact, the Vietnamese State and other organizations and agencies in Vietnam have never officially requested the development partners’ support in the OGP issues.

Taking into account that the development partners share the same objective to help Vietnam build good governance based on openness, transparency, accountability and people’s participation, it is clear that this fourth challenge can be overcome. If receiving the official request from the State or other credible organizations or agencies, the development partners will undoubtedly support Vietnam in participating in OGP. This situation has actually occurred in other countries. As analysed above, more and more international organizations are using OGP as a tool to persuade and promote efforts for good governance in many countries. Concurrently, more and more multilateral donors are supporting the various countries’ governments in implementing objectives and principles of OGP.

The extensiveness of OGP

The fifth challenge is the extensiveness of OGP which covers various ministries, agencies and organizations. Specifically, the criterion for Fiscal Transparency involves the Ministry of Finance, State Audit and Committee on Finance and Budget of the National Assembly. The criterion for Access to Information involves the Ministry of Justice, the agency assisting the government in implementation of the Law on Access to Information. The criterion for Asset Disclosure involves the Government Inspectorate and other agencies having functions in anti-corruption, such as the Party’ Central Inspection Commission. The criterion for Citizen Engagement involves numerous ministries administering different areas like the press, religion, association, etc.

For this reason, it is relatively difficult to specify an agency being responsible for advising the government and coordinating activities concerning OGP- while specifying such an agency is a crucial requirement in both process of preparation for participation and process of implementation of criteria of Open Government. Some interviewed experts referred to the Office of the Government, the agency offering directly secretarial and advisory services on all aspects of administration to the Government and the Prime Minister. However, how much the Office of the Government can commit itself to the OGP issue is still a pending question.

Nonetheless, the above challenge can be seen as a technical issue that will be addressed if the Vietnamese State decides to take part in OGP. To overcome this technical problem, Vietnam may for example request assistance from other OGP participating countries on how to assign an agency to become a coordinating organization. Because almost all Vietnamese central agencies have experience in taking the lead position in some international institutions, it should not be too difficult to find an agency being able to play a coordinating role in OGP activities.