News

6 November 2017

OGP in the News - Week of October 30, 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.

An inspiring week in #opengov, this week's OGP international media coverage highlighted innovation in Buenos Aires and Bojonegoro plus big OGP strides in Afghanistan and Chile.

Imagine if you could see and monitor the progress of the all the public works projects in your city. OGP Subnational Pioneer Buenos Aires is doing just that with the launch of BA Obras (“Works”). Announced on the Argentine city's municipal website, this new platform uses visualizations, photos, and videos to illustrate the breakdown of Buenos Aires' public works budget across all 838 projects, as well as each project's completion status. Mayor of Buenos Aires Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said that “More public works projects means a better quality of life for the residents of Buenos Aires.” BA Obras is also part of the city's OGP commitment to improve information transparency and citizen participation. Fernando Straface, the city's General Secretary for International Relations and OGP Envoy, elaborated on this, saying, “This initiative represents a key step in our commitment to open up the government and make available information so that, together, we can co-create better policies.”

Open government news also came out of the Regency of Bojonegoro, Indonesia—another participant in OGP's Subnational Pilot Program. Vice Regent Setyo Hartono is advocating greater transparency among all regional organizations for the benefit of their communities, reported Bisnis.com. He pointed out that many of Bojonegoro's residents are farmers in “desperate need of information.” Conducted within the framework of OGP, a series of education and training activities aim to address this need and increase transparency by helping some 80 Bojonegoro civil servants master the regency's public information management system.

Afghanistan's National Procurement Authority (NPA) was named the top performer among 19 other directorates and 63 teams evaluated in the Ministry of Finance's 2016 Annual Performance Assessment Report. An article by the World Bank quoted Deputy Finance Minister Khalid Payenda and NPA Director for strategic communication and integrity, Sohail Kaakar, attributing the NPA's success to “great teamwork” and focusing on results. Maintaining a precedent of transparency, the NPA has an online tracking mechanism that allows the public and media alike to follow the progress of all projects under procurement review. And the NPA's anti-corruption efforts are paying off! Not only have these initiatives saved the government a reported $270 million, they were “critical in helping Afghanistan become a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP)” by allowing the country to achieve OGP's 75% eligibility threshold.

In Chile, an open government milestone came in the form of the very first Open Government Round Table (in Spanish, Mesa de Gobierno Abierto or MGA). Penning an opinion piece for La Tercera, a representative of Chile's Open Government Academic Network, Álvaro Ramírez-Alujas, described the “historic opportunity” that this roundtable discussion (launched on November 3) represents. The MGA, a space of “dialogue and coordination” bringing together representatives from government, ten universities, and over 30 civil society organizations, will be tasked with co-creating Chile's fourth OGP National Action Plan and furthering the country's open government agenda. Speaking on behalf of Chilean civil society, the author writes, “We hope that the government will act in accordance and take advantage of an unbeatable opportunity to get closer to the citizenry.”

In other news, the 2017 Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) Partners' Forum took place in Washington, D.C., co-convened this year with Making All Voices Count (MAVC) and OGP. Covered by the Institute of Development Studies, this year's forum spotlighted the role “citizen action” can play in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which strives to build “effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.” One of the panels specifically addressed ways to strengthen civic engagement within OGP.

Finally, Nigeria continues its attempts to recover federal funds stolen by former government officials and stored away in foreign bank accounts...with some success! Vanguard reported that Switzerland has agreed to hand over $321 million looted by Nigeria's late military head of state, General Sani Abacha. At the Pre-Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR), a media spokesperson for Attorney General Abubakar Malami explained that these efforts feed into the nation's larger anti-corruption agenda. Testifying to the government's commitment to tackle corruption, he noted that Nigeria has sought international support by submitting its first OGP National Action Plan and implementing the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

Last but not least, learn about the making of “Food From This Soil,” a short documentary on OGP land commitments in Liberia and their impact on the Jogbahn community - blog 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.