News

2 April 2018

OGP in the News - Week of March 26, 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.

March closed with a lot of open government excitement out of Africa, as well as OGP updates in New Zealand and France.  

The Nigerian government is developing an Electronic Document Management System to make public services more effective and efficient, reported Vanguard. Announced at Nigeria’s third National OGP Steering Committee Meeting in Abuja, Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu described a lot of government information as being “hidden in files and bookshelves.” Highlighting the link between Information and Communication Technology (ICT)—a “new phenomenon in Nigeria”—and the goals of open government, Minister Shittu explained, “The whole idea is to make governance a transparent system where citizens have confidence that they will have access to to whatever information they need on how government is run.” In another article by Vanguard, Minister Shittu pointed out that e-government has already produced economic benefits in Nigeria, noting that ICT has increased Foreign Direct Investments, while its contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose from 6.9% in 2012 to 9.8% in 2016. Also mentioned in the article, Nigerian Attorney General and co-chair of the National OGP Steering Committee, Abubakar Malami, called on all ministers and heads of government agencies to “assist President Muhammadu Buhari in achieving the goals set out in the [OGP] National Action Plan.”   

Elsewhere on the continent, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s annual Mo Ibrahim Governance Weekend will be held in Kigali, Rwanda from April 27-29. Publicized by AllAfrica.com, the event will bring together a “powerful coalition of organisations and individuals,” including representatives from OGP! Day one will open with the Leadership Ceremony, dedicated this year to the former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Other keynote speakers will include the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and the Chair of the African Union. The second day, the Ibrahim Forum will feature both high-level and youth discussions on the theme of “Public Service in 21st Century Africa.”   

On the other side of the world, OGP made its way into a conversation about federalism in the United States. An article in Stanford News summarized the work of two professors at Stanford University, David Freeman Engstrom and Jeremy M. Weinstein, who authored a paper exploring the recent show of sub-federal activism in global foreign affairs, namely from “progressive” states like California. They cited a partnership to reduce carbon emissions negotiated between California Governor Jerry Brown and President of China Xi Jinping in 2017. Weinstein, who also served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under former President Obama, explained that this surge of state authority runs counter to the “one-voice doctrine” that generally governs foreign affairs. While the “one-voice doctrine” stems from the idea that the “federal government must speak as a cohesive unit,” Weinstein argued that it is “out of sync with reality.” To prove his point, he described how OGP (an initiative on which he worked while serving under the Obama administration) collaborates with both national and local governments to promote transparency, effectively illustrating that the one-voice doctrine “does not match up with what is taking place.”          

In New Zealand, Scoop reported on the latest OGP Mid-Term Progress Report of the country’s OGP commitments. Scoop reporter Joseph Cederwall deemed the report less damaging than previous assessments. OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) researcher in the country, Keitha Booth, identified room for improvement, particularly around “access to information, whistleblower protection, [and] company beneficial ownership for all legal entities.” Aside from reviewing the country’s current OGP commitments, the report also offered five specific recommendations for New Zealand’s future open government efforts. These include reforms to the country’s information and open data laws to “publish social, environmental, and budget expenditure data,” anti-corruption commitments in the next OGP Action Plan, and public consultation standards for policy initiatives. The Scoop author concluded that “substantive change in these areas will be required or New Zealand’s reputation in the OGP community will be tarnished further.”     

Etalab announced that various administrations, actors, and civil society representatives will soon have the opportunity to weigh in on France’s 2018-2020 OGP Action Plan. On April 3, 2018, Mounir Mahjoubi, Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs, and François de Rugy, President of the National Assembly, will present the next round of France’s OGP commitments, followed by a collaborative discussion. The article notes that eleven ministries made commitments in line with France’s 2015-2017 OGP Action Plan, demonstrating the country’s continued commitment to open government and OGP.      

Last but not least, April showers mark the dawn of a new OGP era. Founded in 2011 under a fiscal sponsor—the Tides Center—OGP is becoming its own independent entity. Learn what lies ahead 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.