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OGP in the News – Week of August 1, 2017

Jacqueline McGraw|

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.

Touching each region of the world, this week’s OGP media coverage was particularly strong in the Americas and several of OGP’s subnational participants.

Daily Record reported growing concern about a “creeping tide of state secrecy” from Scotland’s current government. Joining some two dozen media organizations in calling for reform to the country’s current freedom of information laws, members of the Open Government Network for Scotland penned a letter to the government emphasizing that “freedom of information is a cornerstone of democracy” and proposing an independent inquiry into Scotland’s transparency infrastructure. In response to these critiques, a government spokesperson said, “Scotland has the most open and far-reaching freedom of information laws in the UK. We work closely with the Open Government Network as part of the Open Government partnership.”

Discussion around access to information was also a topic in Mexico where OGP Steering Committee member and Executive Director of GESOC, Alejandro González, charged Mexico’s Oil Workers Union (STPRM) of violating the General Law on Transparency after it refused to publicize agreements made with Pemex, as well as resources received under union leader Carlos Romero Deschamps. Quoted by, González explained how one of the goals of the General Law on Transparency was to bring greater accountability to unions by disclosing all public resources they receive. He is now calling on the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) to ensure the union’s compliance with the law.

Still in Mexico, Commissioner of INAI Joel Salas Suarez underscored the link between transparency and efficient service delivery in an opinion piece for Beyond publishing contract information, Suarez encouraged public institutions to be transparent throughout the entire hiring process. He pointed out that, in partnership with OGP, the Mexican government agreed to adopt the Data Standard for Open Hiring when it joined four other nations (France, the United Kingdom, Colombia, and Ukraine) in launching the Contracting 5 (C5) initiative.

Elsewhere in the Americas, The Guardian of Trinidad and Tobago called OGP a “global movement towards open disclosure” and credited the Partnership with encouraging governments to “standardise data and grant citizens more access to information on everything from oil and gas production to job losses.” Citing The Natural Resource Governance Institute’s (NRGI) assessment of Trinidad and Tobago in its latest Resource Governance Index, the article concluded that the island nation still has work to do on open data. To remedy this, the Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI) is attempting to increase transparency around and public awareness of natural resource revenue by publishing EITI reports on open data portals, which can be accessed free of charge.

An article in Tanzanian news outlet The Citizen underscored the importance of OGP in bringing about reform in Tanzania. Citing a Global Integrity Report published in 2016, the article outlined some of the benefits Tanzania has reaped from participating in OGP, notably a formal space of collaboration between government and civil society. With more civil society organizations joining Tanzania’s OGP Steering Committee, consultation has improved and has led to “broadening participation and voice in the open government agenda.” Ongoing challenges to implementing OGP commitments in Tanzania include limited resources and political tensions within the current administration.

And in Nigeria, identified five areas on which the Nigerian government plans to focus in 2018 to help fulfill the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Under the fifth category—Transparency and Anti-Corruption Programme—the government committed to continue its work on OGP, as well as create a register of business owners and publish monthly financial reports.

Several news outlets followed up on the workshop that took place in Washington, D.C. for participants of the OGP Subnational Pilot Program. In attendance, reported Infromasi Harian, was Bojonegoro’s Chief of Police representing OGP’s Indonesian subnational pioneer. During the workshop, he explained how the regency’s police department has adopted some of the principles of OGP by conducting weekly door-to-door meetings to engage the larger community. Using radio broadcasting, the department also keeps Bojonegoro residents informed of traffic flow and responds to citizen complaints.    

In other OGP subnational news, the UCLG Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy & Human Rights conducted an interview with Miguel Arana, Director of the Participation Area of the City Council of Madrid, on the city’s Decide Madrid platform. Designed to help implement “mechanisms of direct democracy,” Decide Madrid factors prominently into Madrid’s OGP commitments on participatory budgeting and collaborative legislative systems.    

Finally, Brazil’s Jornal GGN announced the dismantling of the Municipal Council for Participative Planning and Budgeting (CPOP) of OGP subantional pioneer city São Paulo. In a featured note, executive secretary of the Nossa São Paulo Network criticized the decision, reportedly made without public consultation. The author pointed out this “setback” may undermine São Paulo’s OGP commitments, one of which promises to “to increase the power of intervention of the Municipal Participatory Councils in their respective Regional City Halls.”

Last but not least, do you have an outstanding OGP success story? We are creating the second iteration of our “Early Results from OGP Initiatives” and could use your input! More details here.

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