News

16 March 2018

OGP in the News - February 2018

A weekly round-up of Open Government Partnership (OGP) media coverage around the world. Want to receive OGP in the News directly in your email inbox? Subscribe here.

Featured in close to five hundred news stories, OGP was trending on almost every continent in the month of February.  

During the OGP Americas Regional Meeting held last November in Buenos Aires, one of the emerging topics was the role the private sector can play in promoting open government. Extrapolating on some of these discussions and using examples in Latin America, Integrity and Reputation Director at Governance Latam, Gabriel Cecchini, authored a piece for El País outlining concrete ways businesses can increase transparency and accountability. First, he encouraged businesses to work with governments on shaping OGP action plans. He provided the example of Brazil, where Microsoft helped develop Commitment 10 of the country’s latest OGP action plan, aiming to develop methodologies and tools to better evaluate public services. He also highlighted the Tech for Integrity (T4I) competition as an illustration of ways in which the private sector can “provide spaces for the creation of innovative solutions.” Finally, the author wrote that businesses can put open government into practice by measuring the impact of their own operations on environmental, social, and governmental sustainability. Again, he applauded the progress Latin America has made on this front by publishing results of some 100 companies in the 2017 IndexAmericas.      

Shifting the spotlight to Brazil, Eduardo Gussem, Attorney General of Rio de Janeiro, wrote that “we are experiencing a moment of great legislative progress” in a piece for Journal O Globo. Both celebrating recent efforts toward greater transparency and acknowledging that “much still needs to be done,” Gussem credited Brazil’s membership in OGP with a surge of open government initiatives. Some of these, he noted, have helped equip civil society with more publically available data and new technologies to monitor public officials. With both national and local elections coming up in October, the author calls on citizens to use these new tools and information to act as a “true prosecutor of state powers.”  

Elsewhere in the Americas, The Business Journals reported that Canada joined six other “leading digital nations” in signing the Digital (D7) charter. Formerly known as the D5, Canada and Uruguay are the latest additions to the coalition of countries committed to promoting the “core principles of digital development,” including open government. As noted in the article, all D7 members must also be participants of OGP. As it stands, the D7 members include Estonia, Canada, Israel, South Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.    

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) published a new transparency agenda, “Open Aid, Open Societies.” Promoted on the Gov.uk website, the report recognizes DFID as a leader in global transparency for its efforts to make “governments, company ownership and the oil and mining sectors more accountable, more responsive and more open.” Quoted in the article, Minister of State for International Development Harriett Baldwin applauded some of DFID’s major transparency accomplishments, including driving the UK to adopt the Open Contracting Standard and help found OGP in 2011. She underscored the overall positive impact of open government, saying, “Transparency transforms people’s lives for the better by enabling countries to collect taxes, improve public services, and ensure a level-playing field in which businesses can flourish.”

One of the big events of the month was Italy’s Open Government Week, which débuted with the European Leaders’ Forum on February 5th and fed into a week of #opengov fun through February 11th. In the lead-up to the Forum, Chief Executive Officer of ItaliaCamp, Fabrizio Sammarco, authored a blog on the event for Italy’s L’Huffington Post. Writing that the “theme of open government is not new,” Sammarco presented the European Leaders’ Forum as the perfect opportunity for governments and civil society to look beyond national borders for open government inspiration. Varese News and Vita.it covered the event itself, reporting that the Forum welcomed delegations from nineteen European countries, including representatives from fourteen governments and twenty-five civil society organizations.

At the local level, Madrid’s online citizen participation platform, Decide Madrid, continues to garner international acclaim. The platform’s open source software Consul has been replicated and/or adapted in over fifty cities and institutions around the world, according to El Confidencial.  Quoted in the article, Madrid City Council member Pablo Soto Bravo explained that joining the pioneer tier of the OGP Local program allowed the Spanish capital was able to connect with fourteen other governments involved in the OGP Local program. This sparked the global uptake of Decide Madrid’s software—Paris has used Consul to launch participatory budgets on social housing, Turin began conducting public debates, and Buenos Aires developed a massive public works program.  

Moving on to the Asia-Pacific, lecturer of communications at the University of Paramadina, Ika Karlina Idris, observed a decline in activity from Indonesia’s national citizen complaint handling system LAPOR! in a piece for Sindo News. Heralded as being at the forefront of transparency, citizen participation, and innovation, LAPOR! was nominated as a Bright Spot at the 2013 OGP Global Summit and has been included in each of the country’s consecutive action plans. As the author pointed out, however, the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report revealed that the majority of complaints are not fielded to the proper government agency for resolution. Acknowledging some of challenges to maintaining LAPOR!, the author nonetheless emphasized the potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) for deepening government interaction with citizens. She concluded that improving government performance starts with initiatives like LAPOR!, and “must begin by abandoning old patterns of communication.”

And in Africa, several news outlets ran articles on Nigeria’s “poor” performance in natural resource management, according to the 2017 Benchmarking Exercise Report conducted by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), as well as the most recent Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Diving deeper into these results for Sahara Reporters, researcher at the Sussex Centre of the Study of Corruption, Uche Igwe, stressed that “CPI remains what it is – a perception” and should not be confused with reality. While acknowledging that the “screaming headlines” following the results are warranted and that “a lot still remains to be done,” Igwe also pointed out that “Nigeria has made quiet but considerable progress in implementing her commitment under initiatives like the Open Government Partnership (OGP).”   

Last but not least, February saw the launch of the new OGP Trust Fund, designed to provide support to government and civil society reformers in OGP participating countries - learn more here.

Of course, we can’t catch everything in our news round-ups, so if you see we’ve missed something or think a particular story ought to be featured, please send it to jacqueline.mcgraw@opengovpartnership.org.