OGP in the News – October 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.
From elections in Liberia to access to information legislation in Pakistan, this month’s OGP media coverage illustrates how open government is making its way into important political conversations all over the world.
With trust in public institutions at an all-time low, OGP recruited thought leaders from government, civil society, and business to author a series of essays shedding light on ways to #RenewTrust and make open government part of the solution. Débuted at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, the essays in Trust: The Fight to Win It Back are becoming part of the larger conversation about trust. Appearing in HuffPost, the publication’s essay from Unilever Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman attributes rising distrust to the “global economic crisis, the vacuum in political leadership, and the effects of pervasive corruption.” In order to achieve the “vision of the world we want” as outlined by the 2030 Global Goals, Polman says business and government must work together to scale up sustainable solutions. This is where, he says, public-private initiatives, such as OGP, can serve as invaluable entry points for system-wide change.
Prior to Liberia’s presidential election on October 10 (a winner has yet to be determined), The Washington Post published an opinion piece by the director of Accountability Lab, Blair Glencorse, and the country director of Accountability Lab Liberia, Lawrence Yealue II, calling for new leadership that will capitalize on this “unique opportunity for change” and break from “Liberia’s bloody past.” Glencorse and Yealue emphasized three priority areas for Liberia’s new Head of State, including decentralization, increased anti-corruption efforts, and judicial reform. To achieve such ends, the authors encourage the new administration to leverage the country’s membership in OGP, noting that “transparency is a useful disinfectant.”
In other news, OGP was thrilled to announce new ranks of leadership prepared to advance the OGP agenda and grow the open government movement. Hailing from every corner of the world, OGP welcomed four new OGP Ambassadors: Alicia Bárcena, Helen Clark, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Mexican news outlet Proceso covered the announcement, noting that these visionary women will play a “critical role” in positioning the Partnership as a “powerful, positive global movement for openness and deeper democracy, and as a countervailing force against the rise of closed government.”
OGP also launched the OGP Envoys Network, composed of 17 former Steering Committee members committed to representing OGP at high-level events and exchanging insight on open government best practices and initiatives. One of the envoys, Fernando Straface, is Secretary General of International Relations for OGP Subnational pioneer Buenos Aires. Featured on the Argentine capital’s website, Straface said, “The invitation to join this network signals the leadership of the City of Buenos Aires in open government at the subnational level and the quality of its open government ecosystem.”
Not so far away, Chile held its very first Open Government Round Table (in Spanish, “Mesa de Gobierno Abierto” or MGA). Álvaro Ramírez-Alujas, a member of Chile’s Open Government Academic Network, reflected on the significance of this “historic opportunity” in an opinion piece for La Tercera. Bringing together representatives from government, ten universities, and over 30 civil society organizations, the author writes that the MGA represents a “space for collaboration and advocacy.” This new body will lead the way on drafting Chile’s fourth OGP National Action Plan and furthering the country’s open government agenda, establishing a foundation for continued co-creation between government and civil society—also a key ingredient in the OGP process.
An article by the World Bank, meanwhile, recognized the progress of Afghanistan’s National Procurement Authority (NPA), which was named the top performer in the Ministry of Finance’s 2016 Annual Performance Assessment Report. Among its commendable initiatives, the NPA has an online tracking mechanism that allows the public and media to monitor all projects under procurement review, as well as a register of company owners. Not only have these anti-corruption measures saved the government $270 million, they have also been “critical in helping Afghanistan become a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP),” reported the article.
In neighboring Pakistan, the Senate unanimously passed the “Right of Access to Information Bill.” Penning an opinion piece for Dawn.com, author and activist Zahid Abdullah applauded the new law’s provisions for proactive information disclosure, the establishment of an independent information commission, and the inclusion of NGOs in the definition of a “public body.” He also noted that Pakistan’s membership in OGP can help ensure the law’s effective implementation. As Pakistan works to set up an OGP Multistakeholder Forum, the author writes that this dialogue between government and civil society “offers great opportunity to civil society and media groups to obtain specific commitments from the government.”
Finally, Norway launched the Statsregnskapet.no web portal as part of its OGP commitment to greater fiscal transparency. Announced in a press release on the government’s website, the portal provides an easy-to-access and understandable overview of government revenues and expenses. Norwegian Finance Minister Siv Jensen called the portal a “step in the right direction,” saying, “Openness is a prerequisite for trust and credibility. As authorities, we have an additional responsibility for openness, because we manage large resources on behalf of the community.”
Last but not least, the OGP Americas Regional is fast approaching! Check out our exciting lineup of of #opengov speakers and panels 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.