News

5 February 2018

OGP in the News - Week of January 29, 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.

From demands for greater transparency in Mexico and Greece, to meetings between leaders of OGP countries, this week’s OGP news covered it all.

Grupo Milenio announced that Mexico’s National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) has asked the Attorney General to publicly release the government contract signed with Pegasus software. As noted in the article, this order comes months after civil society organizations withdrew from Mexico’s OGP Secretariat, alleging that the government had used Pegasus software to spy on several social activists. INAI commissioner Areli Cano concluded that the Attorney General’s reservations about publicizing the contract data for reasons of national security were not valid. He explained that the information requested does not “reveal procedures, methods, or useful specifications on how the intelligence was generated.” Acknowledging the “social context” surrounding the government’s use of Pegasus, Cano went on to emphasize the importance of being transparent about some of the contract’s details.         

VouliWatch, a Greek civil society organization specializing in open parliament and open government, voiced concerns about the country’s OGP progress, or the perceived lack thereof, in a letter to the head of Parliament, Nikos Voutsis. Covered by Athens Voice, the letter asked for some explanation on why Parliament has yet to implement many of the commitments outlined in Greece’s third OGP action plan. With provisions to provide greater access to parliamentary information and integrate an electronic document management system, most of these open parliament commitments were scheduled to be implemented by June 2017. As it stands, VouliWatch points out, they remain incomplete while recommendation letters from the Open Government Cooperation, the Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction, and VouliWatch continue to go unanswered. Looking forward, VouliWatch writes, “We would be particularly pleased to receive a response to our letter and start mutually beneficial cooperation on the next National Action Plan for Open Government 2018-2020.”    

An article on Paperblog discussed the European Leaders’ Forum. The opening event of Italy’s Open Government Week, the European Leaders’ Forum will bring together government and civil society experts from all over Europe to discuss the role of citizen participation in improving public policy and governance. Taking place in Milan on February 5, a week of seminars, hackathons, debates, and webinars throughout Italy will follow to promote a culture devoted to greater transparency and accountability. Open Government Week is a commitment in Italy’s third OGP action plan.    

Chairman of the Pakistani Senate, Mian Raza Rabbani, called for greater cooperation among Asian member states of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), an intergovernmental organization aimed at promoting sustainable economic development. Acknowledging that ECO can help overcome cultural, ethnic, and national divides in the region, Raza Rabbani affirmed that “Pakistan [is] willing to play its role in whatever capacity to have robust and strategic relationship amongst ECO membership.” He also highlighted steps the country has already taken to address issues of money laundering and terrorist financing, including joining OGP in 2016 and establishing the Financial Monitoring Unit in 2007. He concluded by saying, “We are aware that 21st century belongs to Asia. We need to have better cooperation and linkages amongst our neighbors and partners in the region.”  

Also in the Asia-Pacific, Kabar.kg reported that Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov met with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Both heads of state expressed interest in deepening relations between their countries, recognizing opportunities for economic growth and cultural exchange. Isakov also congratulated the Prime Minister Kvirikashvili on Georgia’s co-chairmanship of OGP, which the Kyrgyz Republic recently joined. The Kyrgyz Prime Minister stressed that the Kyrgyz Republic is the first country from Central Asia to join the Partnership and outlined “three directions” for moving forward with OGP, including the improvement of public services, transparent public procurement, and open data.    

Moving on to Africa, Ghanaian Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo detailed plans to bolster the legal and regulatory framework for Ghana’s Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in a press release published by AllAfrica.com. Speaking at the launch of the country’s Disclosure Diagnostic Framework—developed by the Ministry of Finance with support from the World Bank— Osafo-Maafo highlighted the importance of transparency and accountability in executing and implementing PPP projects. Osafo-Maafo added that Ghana’s current and upcoming OGP action plans will “further enhance transparency in Government business to boost confidence in the private sector, Development Partners and the general public.” According to the press release, the Disclosure Diagnostic Framework was created to “ensure that all PPP activities were very transparent” and encourage business and government to work together on elevating Ghana’s socio-economic development.       

Last but not least, it’s index season! Take a look at The Economist’s 2017 Democracy Index and the World Justice Project’s latest Rule of Law Index to see where OGP countries fall.

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.