On Open Government
Maria Otero, United States Under Secretary for State for Democracy and Global Affairs
“And when we gather back here next year, we should bring specific commitments to promote transparency, energize civic engagement, fight corruption, and to leverage new technologies so that we strengthen the foundation of freedom in our own countries, while living up to ideals that can light the world.”
--President Barack Obama, Address to the UN General Assembly, September 2010
Having listened to President Obama set out that challenge one year ago this week, I am proud that today we make that vision a reality through the launch of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
The work has not been easy. OGP seeks to address issues that have been challenging governments for years—corruption, lack of transparency, lagging public faith and civic engagement. But we decided that by looking at these problems in a fresh way and with new tools, we could find better solutions.
Solutions like those of the Brazilian government which is publishing all officials’ expenditures online within 24 hours therefore improving transparency. Or Norway, which is launching an effort to have more women apply for top posts in the private sector; and undertaking an initiative to strengthen the role of women in local democracy and develop a gender equality program with all municipalities. Or in Kenya, Haduma is a new platform that enables people to submit reports on the performance of services in their district by text, e-mail or Twitter. The reports are then mapped on the Huduma site for public viewing and help improve government service delivery and track international aid. These are just a few of the examples of what governments, civil society and citizens are doing as part of each country’s commitment to OGP.
Because OGP is truly a partnership. We partnered with a diverse set of countries representing every region of the world -- Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa and UK -- to be part of the Steering Committee and get this done. Civil society partners are also critical -- Africa Center for Open Governance (Kenya), Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Brazil), Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (Mexico), International Budget Partnership (international), MKSS (India), National Security Archive (U.S.), Revenue Watch Institute (international), Transparency and Accountability Initiative (international), and Twaweza (Tanzania) are all members of the Steering Committee. These organizations are helping direct the work of OGP and are playing a key role in evaluating national action plans.
Other countries are excited to join. When we told the world about our idea, the world responded. Today, I watched President Obama and President Rousseff welcome 37 new countries to the partnership. In the coming months these countries will develop their own country action plans. I look forward to seeing where their creativity, energy and enthusiasm can take us in making government more open, effective and accountable.