The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is launching an exciting new pilot program designed to more proactively involve subnational governments in the initiative. OGP is a 69 country partnership aiming to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. OGP is looking for subnational governments with committed political and working level reformers, and engaged and energetic partners in civil society, to take part in a pilot program designed to advance open government reform.
Buenos Aires, Argentina was one of the subnational governments that successfully applied to engage directly with OGP in a pilot 'pioneer' program. Participants will receive dedicated assistance and advice from the OGP Support Unit and OGP Steering Committee to develop and fulfill independent open government commitments in action plans, in partnership with civil society organisations. They will actively contribute to peer learning and networking activities with other subnational governments. The commitments and short action plans developed by the pioneers will be assessed by OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM). The pilot will give OGP the opportunity to test and assess the IRM’s capacity to act as the accountability mechanism for subnational government participation.
The following text is from Buenos Aires's letter of application, available as an image below.
Buenos Aires, 24th February, 2016
Open Government Partnership Steering Committee
To whom it may concern,
As Mayor of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, I hereby declare our intention of joining the Subnational Government Pilot Program, promoted by the Open Government Partnership.
Open Data and Open Government guarantee accountability and transparency. They are essential for improving the lives of our citizens as we believe only an informed society can help us do our job more efficiently.
In order to encourage high standards of public values, the Buenos Aires City Government has been including these principles as part of its policies for a long time. The results achieved so far place us as a leader in Latin America on this topic. As such, we believe the City of Buenos Aires is an ideal candidate for the program's pioneer tier.
Buenos Aires has clearly implemented policies that follow the standards set by the Open Government Declaration. The promotion of transparency and public accountability is exemplified in Buenos Aires Data, an open platform developed to share governmental information. In a digital, standard and structured format, this platform aggregates information from more than 75 agencies with 170 datasets and 600 resources.
Buenos Aires is committed to developing citizenship initiatives and working in partnership with NGO's. The Undersecretary of Smart City has promoted the co creation of over 40 projects that provide innovative solutions to public issues. In cooperation with the NGO Huésped we co-created #DONDE (#WHERE), an open source application that allows geo-localization of free HIV testing sites and condoms distribution centers. The application "Ayuda me perdí” (Help mel I'm lost) was developed with the NGO DISCAR to help people with intellectual disabilities move through the city with autonomy. In a partnership between Google Inc. and the Ministry of Transport, we developed a dashboard to help users find transportation links. We take online data from more than 1100 virtual sensors and match it with Google Transit API, allowing users to make real time transport decisions.
Furthermore, in collaboration with "Democracia en Red", we developed the website Ciudad Abierta. It is based on DemocracyOS and seeks to connect people, inspire ideas and accelerate projects that create new solutions for the City. In fact, we are now inviting students, entrepreneurs, NGO’s and governmental teams to participate in a hackaton in June. Its four key themes will be: Social Development, Sustainable Development, Transportation and innovation.
These are just some ways the Government of Buenos Aires has incorporated the Open Data and Open Government agenda to improve citizens' experiences and make the decision-making process more open to participation. We should note that this policy follows a long tradition of Buenos Aires as a leading city in terms of transparency. Indeed, Buenos Aires was one of the first states in Argentina to adopt a Freedom of Information Law in 1998 (Ley 104) and its Constitution specifically guarantees the right to access public information through Articles 12 and 16 (1996). Buenos Aires also has in place an authority responsible for receiving and channeling citizens' freedom of information requests.
Buenos Aires is currently developing a reform agenda. Three areas are involved in such process: the Undersecretary for Political Reform, the Undersecretary for Smart City and the Undersecretary for Strategic Management and Institutional Quality. Our goals are to improve the links between citizens and their government, increase the participation of civil society in all stages of government initiatives and develop innovative solutions for entrenched problems. Buenos Aires is also committed to improving and developing new and better ways of encouraging the participation of citizens in its decision-making processes. In this context, we would like to include the legislative and judicial branches of government in the development of these initiatives beyond the executive.
While we have a proven track record of delivering open and transparent initiatives that have improved the lives of its citizens, our Government does not claim to know everything. We expect to learn from civil society by building additional channels of communication and participation and by being open to their oversight.
It is in this context of open and innovative policies that we apply to the Sub-national Government Pilot Program of OGP. It would be a great opportunity to receive counseling and institutional support from the OGP experts, while learning from the experiences of other cities. We hope to strengthen our work with NGO's and other civil society organizations in order to make a qualitative leap forward in our already high standards of transparency and accountability.
We believe Buenos Aires can be a global leader in Open Government. We want to become an innovation hub for other subnational governments - in Argentina and in other cities across Latin America. We hope to inspire governments to replicate these initiatives so they can improve their own experiences. Buenos Aires is committed to sharing its experiences with other cities and sub-national entities throughout the world so they can learn from our experiences in developing open government policies.
Last December, after the mayoral election, I accepted the challenge of leading the Government of Buenos Aires. With this, I committed to enhancing the work that has already been done, while introducing new ideas and projects. Although significant progress has been made, there is always more to achieve. Our promise of an open and responsive government stems from our commitment to create an administration that is close to its citizens. This is the most important principle of my government, and I am personally resolved to see it embodied through innovative reforms launched and implemented during my term in office.
| appreciate your attention in advance and hope this application is taken with good consideration. I look forward to receiving a positive response.
HORACIO RODRIGUEZ LARRETA
City of Buenos Aires
Photo Credit: Buenos Aires By Luis Argerich CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8538509