The IOPD Presidency and the Technical Secretariat are the two basic bodies that have existed since the IOPD network was constituted. Both offices are held by associate members of the network, i.e. by cities or local governments that belong to the IOPD.
The internal regulations affecting the operations of both offices were drawn up in 2006 to provide the network with a clear, objective structure. The relevant protocols establish the responsibilities of the Presidency and the Technical Secretariat and the procedures for electing them to office:
- The Presidency is held by the city which, after submitting its candidacy, is elected to host the annual IOPD conference by consensus of the internal annual assembly of associate members of the network. Following the principle of alternating conference sites, the conference is hosted by a city on a different continent each year. IOPD Presidency is held for one year. The following cities have held the Presidency since 2001: Barcelona (Spain), Quezaltenango (Guatemala), Lille (France), Buenos Aires (Argentina), San Sebastián-Donostia (Basque Country-Spain), Nanterre (France), La Paz (Bolivia), Reggio Emilia (Italy), Mexico City (Mexico), Lleida ( Catalonia - Spain), Porto Alegre (Brazil), Cascais (Portugal), Canoas (Brazil), Madrid (Spain), Matola (Mozambique) and Montreal (Canada).
- The General or Technical Secretariat is held by a city or local government for a renewable period of 3 years. As with the Presidency, the decision to appoint a candidate city to hold this post is reached by consensus at the annual assembly. Barcelona City Council has held the office of IOPD Technical Secretariat since the network was created.
The Technical Secretariat is responsible for carrying out the daily work of the network, managing the website and the media library, issuing publications, preparing, organizing and promoting the IOPD's own initiatives, and helping to organize the annual international conference, as well as representing the IOPD before the different institutions with which the organization maintains relations.
A further body was created in 2004 to improve network efficiency. Its internal regulation was updated in 2009:
- The Coordinating Committee. This committee is made up of the most active, committed associate and collaborating members of the network. It meets several times a year and takes advantage of the framework of the annual conference and other events to follow up projects and initiatives and to contribute proposals and suggestions for the improvement and development of the IOPD.
In view of the need to decentralise the organisation's structure and in order to improve its efficiency, in November 2011 a collaboration agreement was reached with the city of Porto Alegre to become the seat of the regional office of the OIDP for Latin America. This agreement will be based on the following points:
- The city of Porto Alegre, with the support of the Technical Secretariat, will lead the production of OIDP knowledge in Latin America and, in particular, in Brazil.
- The city of Porto Alegre will take charge of disseminating the activities of the OIDP in Latin America and assuming the tasks of representation of the organisation when agreed.
In line with this need, the International Observatory for Participatory Democracy Platform for Africa was launched in Dakar on December 2012. The initiative is coordinated by ENDA-Ecopop and at present is accessible online at www.democratieafricaine.org or www.odp-afrique.org.
It is focused on the following 4 sections:
- The section Local Communities presents the Panorama of decentralization in individual countries, documents the experiences of participatory democracy of municipalities and the self-assessment/monitoring of PB processes. In Collaboration with UN Habitat11 Draft International Guidelines on decentralization and Access to Basic Services has helped to kick-start the studies on decentralization and access to basic services in Senegal and Burkina Faso.
- The section of Resources is about skills and resource people (experts, advisors and facilitators in participatory governance), documents (guides, manuals and various tools, products), photographic and video library (documentaries are available now), etc.;
- The section Forum facilitates topical discussions, alerts and news on democratic practices; good practices;
- The Section Collaborative is the portal dedicated to training (distance learning), video and web conferences and participatory democracy events.