OGP in the News – March 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.
Between updates on upcoming OGP Action Plans in South Korea and Mongolia and ongoing efforts toward OGP commitments in Spain, Argentina, and Nigeria, this month’s OGP news covered every part of the globe.
Articles by Naver and several other national news outlets highlighted the South Korean government’s pledge to “set up an exemplary open government national action plan.” The country took to heart recommendations made by OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism to increase citizen participation both in developing and implementing its OGP commitments. In an attempt to attract new stakeholders to the OGP process, the government launched an an online consultation platform, through which Korean citizens can offer input on the country’s fourth OGP Action Plan. Representatives from both government and civil society—quoted in the article—applauded this effort to increase “participation and cooperation with the people.”
More OGP news came out of Mongolia, where OGP staff met with high-level ministers, including Mongolian Chief of Cabinet Secretariat G. Zandanshatar. Covered by national news outlet Montsame, Zandanshatar pointed to the National Program on Combating Corruption, increased transparency in the extractives sector, and the newly formed Public-Private Consultative Subcommittee, as evidence of Mongolia’s open government progress. In another article documenting the OGP visit, Governor of Ulaanbaatar City and Head of Projects on Poverty Alleviation and Employment Issues, D.Enkhtur, described how Mongolia’s 2016-2018 OGP Action Plan helps define and strengthen the country’s work around the Sustainable Development Goals.
And in Indonesia, OGP Local participant Bojonegoro Regency is working to train the public on using the Crime Alarm System (CAS) application, introduced in 2016. Quoted in an editorial by Kumparan, Bojonegoro Chief of Police Wahyu S. Bintoro explained that the application falls very much in line with the “spirit of OGP.” Intended to ease crime reporting, the application is divided into three use cases—one for the regency police staff, one for Bojonegoro’s government agencies, and one for the wider public. According to the article, Bintoro presented the application at a gathering of OGP Local participants, where it “gained appreciation from all OGP Forum representatives.”
Several academics positioned open government initiatives as being at odds with Freedom of Information (FOI) efforts. Originally published by The Conversation and republished on WTOP.com, the piece was authored by three professors from Rutgers University (United States), Tilburg University (Netherlands), and the London School of Economics (United Kingdom). Despite sharing a “fundamental goal” of government transparency, the open government movement, wrote the authors, presents a “different kind of challenge” to FOI initiatives by “cornering the already limited public and private funding and government staffing available for transparency work.” The professors nonetheless acknowledged that advocates of the two transparency movements are often involved in similar initiatives, such as OGP, and recognized that open government can strengthen FOI by encouraging more publically available data and the passage of FOI laws. They called for a “commitment by government to have any new or merged systems reflect the goals of both FOI and open government.”
In Europe, the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, together with the Ministry of Finance and Public Function, launched an online open government training course for interested educators and citizens. According to a press release published on the Ministry website, this was just the start of a series of training sessions that will continue throughout 2019, as part of the country’s OGP commitments. In an attempt to further strengthen Spain’s “strong commitment to the values ??that [OGP] advocates and defends,” the two ministries also published the first edition of the country’s Educational Guidelines on Open Government Education.
Elsewhere in Europe, Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze, invited Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic to attend the fifth OGP Global Summit in Tbilisi from July 17-19. During a high-level meeting covered by Alo! and N1info Serbia, Minister Janelidze emphasized the significance of the OGP Summit to the Serbian Prime Minister, explaining that the event will bring together representatives from all over the world to discuss ways to further the principles of open government. Another main topic of discussion between the two heads of state was increased cooperation between Serbia and Georgia. To achieve this, Minister Janelidze of Georgia proposed economic partnerships between Georgia and Serbia, while Prime Minister Brnabic emphasized the Public Administration Reform Treaty, which commits both countries to building more efficient and transparent administrations.
Moving on to the Americas, the Argentine province of Mendoza will host the third edition of the #ArgentinaAbierta forum on May 31, 2018. According to MDZ Online, the forum has garnered a reputation for being a space where experts, government officials, students, and other interested parties can “exchange experiences about transparency, open government and citizen participation.” Previously hosted in Buenos Aires and Cordoba, this year’s choice of location for the #ArgentinaAbierta forum was “no coincidence,” said Mendoza Minister Dalmiro Garay. He explained that Mendoza has worked hard to become a leader in transparency, highlighting the Province’s open data portal and its contribution to Argentina’s most recent OGP action plan.
Finally, Vanguard reported that Nigeria has committed to making its government services more effective and efficient by developing an Electronic Document Management System. At Nigeria’s third National OGP Steering Committee Meeting in Abuja, Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu described Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a solution to unlocking government information, much of which is “hidden in files and bookshelves.” He explained that ICT can bolster the goals of open government, saying, “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 covering the meeting, 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.”
Last but not least, who will be leading the OGP pack in the year to come? Find out 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 email@example.com.