News

12 September 2017

OGP in the News - Week of September 4, 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.

While most of this week’s OGP media coverage came out of the Americas, OGP also made news in Nigeria, South Korea, and even in non-OGP country Nepal.

In an opinion piece for La Nacion, Executive Director of the Legislative Directory Foundation and OGP Steering Committee member, María Baron, called for greater transparency and information disclosure from Argentina’s legislative branch. Pointing out that both chambers joined the OGP framework earlier this year, Baron critiqued Congress for not exercising “active transparency,” or proactively publicizing certain government information and responding to civil society requests in a timely manner. She also said that the OGP commitments drafted by Congress lacked ambition compared to those signed by the executive branch as part of Argentina's third OGP National Action Plan (NAP). Baron ended with a stark reminder underscoring the importance of openness: “It is not possible to build a serious country or increase trust in our institutions when they operate under a cloak of secrecy.”    

According to Perfil.com, the issue of insufficient access to information in Argentina extends to the local level. The province of Cordoba, which contributed to Argentina’s third National Action Plan (NAP), has yet to publish important information on government contracts to build new gas pipelines, and is one of few Argentine provinces without an open data portal. Commenting on why such transparency is essential to meeting the overarching goals of open government, Agustina Palencia of the Foundation for the Development of Sustainable Policies (Fundeps) explained, “It is about opening up the State and achieving an interactive relationship with the citizens.” Elsewhere in Argentina, the Buenos Aires government website recapped key takeaways from the third class of a training workshop titled “Urban strategists, towards a metropolitan institutionalism,” including a presentation by the city’s Under Secretary for Strategic Management and Institutional Quality, Alvaro Herrero, on Buenos Aires’ participation in the OGP Subnational Pilot Program.

In Mexico, Animal Politico reported that while the open government values of transparency, accountability, and citizen participation are taking hold in 25 of the country’s states, seven have yet to sign the open government declaration. Acknowledging that ten civil society organizations withdrew from Mexico’s OGP Secretariat earlier this year, the article quoted OGP Steering Committee member Alejandro González Arreola advocating for continued progress on open government in Mexico: “We want to prevent the national conflict from limiting governments and entities where there are conditions for it.”   

Further north, the Trump administration released a draft framework to develop the United States’s fourth NAP during a public meeting convened by the General Services Administration (GSA). Open government watchdog The Sunlight Foundation weighed in on the pros and cons of the United States’ continued involvement in OGP. Citing some of President Trump’s actions to-date that might cast doubt on the administration’s commitment to open government principles, the Sunlight Foundation nonetheless encouraged the American public “to review the Trump administration’s record on open government and then propose commitments that would make a substantial difference in public corruption, ethics, disclosure, and, perhaps above all, trust in government.” Furthermore, CoinDesk covered an OGP workshop hosted by the GSA’s Emerging Citizen Technology (ECT) program, which brought together representatives from government and the private sector to propose commitments for the new NAP on “how blockchain, artificial intelligence and smart automation can be leveraged to improve bureaucracies and bring antiquated IT systems up to speed.”         

Both Naij.com and Daily Post reported exciting OGP developments in Nigeria after several government ministries resolved to move forward with the creation of a public beneficial ownership register. A commitment in Nigeria’s first OGP NAP, the register also marks an important step in the country’s ongoing fight against corruption. According to Nigeria’s national OGP coordinator Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, “By the time the beneficial ownership register is made public, there will be no hiding place for those who wish to conceal dirty money.”

On to Asia, OGP continued to make news in South Korea following the OGP Korea Forum, which was attended by several members of the OGP Support Unit. Several national news sources publicized the Memorandum of Understanding signed between OGP Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Pradhan and Nam Yeong-sook, Secretary General of WeGo, an international organization of cities committed to using e-government and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to promote sustainable urban development. According to the agreement, OGP and WeGo will share experience, expertise, and resources, as well as identify collaborative projects, to further advance government transparency and sustainable development.  

Finally, OGP once again made news in a non-OGP country, this time Nepal. During an interactive workshop organized by the Good Governance Committee of the Legislature-Parliament with support from UNDP, Nepalese publication My República announced that “various speakers” pushed for Nepal to join OGP. Highlighting the Partnership’s emphasis on collaboration between the government and civil society, the article quoted Nepal’s Chief Information Commissioner Krishna Hari Baskota saying that the government “should not make any delay to brace up the values of OGP to give people effective governance.”

Last but not least, join civil society members of the OGP Steering Committee for a webinar on September 14 and say what you hope to see them pass on to their government counterparts using the hashtag #OGPcivilsociety. More details 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.