News

20 February 2018

OGP in the News - Week of February 12, 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.

In true OGP fashion, this week’s global OGP coverage covered a wide array of themes, from public-private partnerships in the Americas, to transparency wins in Ghana’s oil and gas sector, to Morocco’s new OGP eligibility status.

How can businesses partner with governments to promote open government? In a piece for El País, Integrity and Reputation Director at Governance Latam, Gabriel Cecchini, drew upon discussions from the OGP Americas Regional Meeting last November to outline concrete ways the private sector can be part of the solution to fighting corruption, opaque procurement processes, and conflicts of interest. First, he encouraged businesses to work with governments on shaping OGP action plans. Many countries in Latin America, he noted, are already leading the way on this. In Brazil, Microsoft weighed in on Commitment 10 of the country’s latest OGP action plan, which aims to develop methodologies and tools to better evaluate public services. Often at the forefront of cutting edge technology, the private sector can also “provide spaces for the creation of innovative solutions,” with last year’s Tech for Integrity (T4I) competition being a prime example. Finally, wrote the author, businesses can contribute to the open government cause by measuring how their own operations impact environmental, social, and governmental sustainability. Again, Latin America has already paved the way on this front, publishing the results from some 100 companies in the 2017 IndexAmericas.   

A recent review of Indonesia’s national citizen complaint handling system LAPOR! shows some decline in activity. Writing for Sindo News, lecturer of communications at the University of Paramadina, Ika Karlina Idris, noted that the response rate to citizen complaints submitted via LAPOR! has dropped considerably in recent years. 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.”          

Hoping to bring greater transparency and accountability to its oil and gas sector, Ghana launched a public register of “petroleum contracts, agreements, authorizations and permits.” Publicized by the Daily Trust and AllAfrica.com, author Daniel Adugbo posited that this open government victory positioned Ghana ahead of Nigeria in terms of transparency. He wrote that “Nigeria has been trying to set up an open accessible register of oil contracts for years now,” and was ranked far below Ghana in the 2017 Resource Governance Index. Spokesman for the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, reported, however, that Nigeria is using the NEITI and OGP frameworks to move toward implementing an open register of national oil contracts.     

Not far away, in Côte d’Ivoire, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly reviewed the government’s performance for 2017. Covered by Abidjan.net, the Prime Minister summarized some of the steps the government has taken to combat corruption. Among other successes, he noted that the government established the Court of Auditors and the High Authority of Good Governance, charged with monitoring public spending and ensuring that government officials declare their assets. He explained that these reforms have helped the country improve its standing in a number of international initiatives, including OGP, the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and the World Bank’s annual Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA). Prime Minister Coulibaly nonetheless recognized that the government “must strengthen its efforts on this front, constantly seeking to improve the effectiveness of implemented institutional and operational measures.”     

More details on the second installment of Italy’s Open Government Week (SAA2018) came in this week. Authoring a piece for Agenda Digitale, lawyer and member of the OGP team within Italy’s Department of Public Administration, Ernesto Belisario, explained that this week—“in which open government rises to the spotlight”—was a commitment in the country’s most recent OGP action plan. Pioneered in 2017, this year’s edition resulted in over 320 initiatives, all aiming to “improve community life and the quality of our democracies.” Underscoring the importance of open government leadership, Belisario wrote, “Trying to be an example of open administration is not simple in the era of populism, but it is probably the only solution to curb the problems of our institutions and our democracies.”     

Finally, OGP made news in non-OGP country Morocco. Following the passage of its long-awaited Right of Access to Information Bill bill earlier this month, the local news agency Lematin.ma announced that, as per OGP guidelines, the country is now eligible to join OGP. Head of the Ministry of Administration and Civil Service Reform, Mohamed Ben Abdelkader, signed an agreement of cooperation with UNESCO director Irina Bokova to set up training programs and support the new bill’s implementation. When presenting the bill before the House of Representatives for final approval, Ben Abdelkader emphasized the importance of access to information in bolstering the principles of openness and transparency. [Editor’s Note: As of February 2017, Morocco is not eligible to join OGP. The Support Unit updates the Eligibility Index once a year, in March, so please check back for updates next month.]

Last but not least, February 20, 2018 is International World Day of Social Justice! What can you do to celebrate? Join OGP partner Namati’s Justice for All campaign and pledge your support for greater access to justice around the world.     

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.