News

14 August 2017

OGP in the News - Week of August 7, 2017

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.

This week’s OGP coverage explored both OGP successes in Indonesia and Uruguay, as well as the challenges of implementing OGP reforms in Mexico and Tanzania.

Mexico’s government portal, gob.mx (the government’s one-stop shop of federal data, visited by 1-1.5 million people every day), was hacked for 45 minutes in June of last year. According to El Economista, this kind of breach is commonplace among governments. In Mexico, however, a lot of these cyberattacks go unpublicized in part, the article claims, because Mexico lacks a National Cybersecurity Strategy. New light was shed on this issue when several civil society organizations, including those formerly belonging to Mexico’s Tripartite OGP Secretariat, made allegations of federal espionage against activists and journalists. Responding to civil society complaints about government spying, Víctor Lagunes who heads  Mexico’s Innovation and Technological Strategy Unit emphasized that “cooperation among all stakeholders is essential“ and welcomed input on developing cybersecurity policy from the organizations that withdrew from Mexico’s OGP framework.

A second El Economista article speculated that the government purchase of electronic spying tools by the Mexican government, such as the NSO Group’s Pegasus Software, will increase as long as governments suffer from limited capacity and resources in developing cybersecurity infrastructures. Attacks to energy businesses and organizations may also increase.

Over to Asia, OGP Subnational Pioneer Bojonegoro is leading the way in transparency in Indonesia, according to national news portal Kumparan. After the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested 11 officials for corruption charges in the Pamekasan Regency, the national government decided to crack down on monitoring public spending. Bojonegoro, however, has already championed budget transparency by using large billboards and village websites to publicize how local budgets are broken down in 430 villages spread across the regency’s 28 sub-districts. Bojonegoro Regent Kang Yoto (as he is commonly known) said, “The goal is for the public to know and participate in controlling the funds managed by the village.” He also noted that the implementation of OGP commitments has “grown significantly” since the Regency launched its OGP Subnational Action Plan at the OGP Global Summit in December 2016.

In Nigeria, Vanguard reported that civil society organizations are calling on the government to support beneficial ownership practices. Following a multi-stakeholder meeting in Abuja, hosted by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Uche Igwe, a consultant to Nigeria’s OGP Secretariat, noted that greater transparency around company ownership will not only help tackle fraud among public officials, it will also strengthen the country’s economy by exposing “tax evasion, money laundering, and terrorism financing.” Underscoring the importance of transparency in general, Igwe said, “Openness is the biggest antidote to opacity; we need to open our system as to do away with corruption.”

Elsewhere in Nigeria, The Punch ran an editorial condemning a bill currently under review in the House of Representatives, which proposes the establishment of a federal regulatory commission with the authority to supervise, terminate, approve, and regulate all NGO funding and project activities. The article pointed out that the bill violates the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits prosecuting NGOs for receiving external funding without sufficient evidence that such funding constitutes a national threat. Furthermore, the editorial claimed that such legislation would undermine Nigeria’s OGP efforts, which require collaboration between government and civil society.   

Also in Africa, a piece in The Citizen examined the extent to which OGP has “enabled a deepening of the open government agenda” in Tanzania. Authored by Faraja Kristomus, the piece assesses the country’s OGP reform on access to information. A few of the barriers to successfully passing a freedom of information law included resistance among some politicians in the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Legal Affairs, as well as the fact that neither of these ministries was formally connected to the implementation of Tanzania’s first and second National Action Plans (NAP). Despite challenges in the OGP process, however, the author concluded that “Tanzania still needs OGP, because transparency in government, and maintaining ownership of our natural resources, is more important than ever.”     

Another analysis of OGP work, this time in Uruguay, was conducted by Making All Voices Count. Focusing on the degree to which “information and communication technology (ICT)-supported citizen engagement processes underpinning OGP-NAPs” have transformed governance in Uruguay, the case study concluded that OGP’s co-creation processes used to develop and implement NAPs “do not merely reproduce the patterns of the system, but are gradually modifying it, creating adaptations and small transformations in its structure.”

Last but not least, what is a “well-rounded IEP”? More than just another OGP acronym, IEP stands for the International Experts Panel and refers to the oversight body of the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism. We are currently seeking two new candidates to join this group of experts, so if you know of potential candidate for a “well-rounded IEP,” let us know! More info 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.