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Panama Design Report 2017-2019

Panama’s third action plan is focused on anticorruption and it was designed through open participatory workshops, with high influence from civil society. The plan was widely distributed through the media, but it did not include participation of organizations from beyond the capital city. The plan’s ambition level is moderate, with only one commitment having potential transformative impact. Going forward, the country could ensure the transparency of the multi-stakeholder forum and promote an inclusive dialogue, as well as develop more ambitious commitments that clearly state their expected outcomes.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2012

Action plan under review: 3 (2017-2019)

Report type: Design

Number of commitments:  9

Action plan development

Is there a multi-stakeholder forum? Yes

Level of public influence: Collaborate

Acted contrary to OGP process: No

Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values:  8 (89%)

Transformative commitments:               1 (11%)

Potentially starred:                                1 (11%)

Action plan implementation

Starred commitments: N/A

Completed commitments: N/A

Commitments with major DIOG*: N/A

Commitments with outstanding DIOG: N/A

*DIOG: Did it Open Government?

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Panama joined OGP and has since implemented two action plans. This report assesses the design of Panama’s third action plan.

General overview of the action plan

Panama’s third action plan is focused on creating tools to prevent and fight corruption and protect the public resources, in response to the high-level corruption cases reported in the last few years.

The Open Government Commission, created to follow up on the implementation and monitoring of the second action plan, was charged with the creation of the third plan. This resulted in higher participation and influence from civil society, as compared to previous action plans. The willingness of the National Transparency and Access to Information Authority (ANTAI in Spanish), agency in charge of advancing the open government agenda, as well as civil society’s positive response, created the enabling conditions to conduct a collaborative process.

However, the outcome was similar to previous action plans in terms of their ambition levels, with one transformative commitment and a balance between moderate and minor ambition. The third action plan covers four themes, i.e. anticorruption, public contracting transparency, public services and education. Unlike the previous plan, it does not include open data efforts. Commitment no. 4 is noteworthy, as it promotes the implementation of mechanisms to prevent corruption in public contracting.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of the implementation cycle
3. Increase transparency and accountability of public infrastructure projects

Enact a regulation that requires public institutions to subject public infrastructure projects to the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST) standards.

This commitment could be included in the following action plan, due to its potential impact to halt Panama’s corruption. In order to achieve transformative potential, the necessary resources will need to be secured to apply the CoST standards to all of the country’s public infrastructure projects, as stated by the commitment. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle
4. Preventing conflicts of interest in the state’s public contracting

Implement instruments and mechanisms to prevent conflicts of interest in public contracting

The following action plan could include this commitment, increasing its potential impact by including activities to strengthen protection to whistleblowers that report conflicts of interest. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle

 

 9. Open Government Schools

Create an online platform that supports students’ civic training so as to incentivize and facilitate their participation in public affairs, including both the creation and monitoring of community projects, and public decision-making.

To ensure the successful implementation of this commitment, it is necessary to clearly identify how it will be funded and whether projects will be monitored. In addition, there should be proper dissemination and strategic training of users. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle

Recommendations

The IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan.

Table 3. Five key IRM recommendations

Formally create and consolidate a permanent dialogue forum for civil society and government to discuss open government initiatives
Design a strategy to prevent abrupt changes that result from political transitions
Identify, as part of the action plan and co-creation process, the methods and workplan that will guide the implementing institutions to engage civil society organizations during the action plan implementation
Follow up on previously implemented commitments that require follow-up, as well as additional initiatives, to increase its impact and reach, such as open data or regulation enactments
Moving forward, include more ambitious commitments, that are relevant to broader societal groups and that effectively address the identified issues

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Filed under: IRM IRM Report

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