OGP in the News – Week of January 22, 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.
Delving into the open government record of Georgia, New Zealand, the United States, and more, this week’s OGP media coverage was concentrated in the Asia-Pacific and Americas regions.
The latest piece in OGP’s GovInsider partnership series came from Georgian Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani. As Georgia prepares to host the fifth OGP Global Summit, Tsulukiani provides “exclusive insight” into the current OGP co-chair’s co-creation model, or the “success story that everyone loves to tell.” Through the Georgian Open Government Forum, Tsulukiani explained that the responsibility of developing and assessing the country’s open government reforms is evenly distributed among representatives of government, civil society, and business. She also emphasized that the open government spark is catching, with all three branches of government (executive, supreme court, and parliament) involved in the OGP process, and local governments entering increasingly into the fold. Georgian capital Tbilisi is already a participant in the OGP Local program, and five more municipalities were included in the country’s latest action plan. Tsulukiani concluded that Georgia is dedicating its term as OGP government co-chair to “ensuring that citizens have the opportunity to influence the government decisions that affect their daily lives.”
Also in the Asia-Pacific, New Zealand news website Scoop covered the release of the latest draft report on the country’s OGP commitments. Developed by OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM), the report assesses New Zealand’s OGP performance at the mid-term for 2016-18. Compared to past years, Scoop co-editor Joseph Cederwall wrote that this latest report illustrates “significant improvement” by the government in meeting its OGP commitments. He also underscored five recommendations made by the IRM for the country’s next OGP action plan, including greater civil society representation on the Expert Advisory Panel (New Zealand’s multistakeholder forum), reform of current information laws, and anti-corruption commitments providing for whistleblower protection and a beneficial ownership register. The article noted that people can view and comment on the IRM progress report here.
Joining leaders from around the world, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov travelled to Davos, Switzerland to attend the annual World Economic Forum. At a session on Growth and Development, reported Kabar.kg, Isakov discussed issues related to technological, sustainable, and entrepreneurial development alongside high-level officials from the United States, Colombia, India, and South Africa. Weighing in the potential of modern technologies to combat corruption, Isakov mentioned OGP, of which the Kyrgyz Republic recently became a partner. He said, “Open data projects within the framework of the Open Government Partnership will make most of the data open, which will allow the business to develop its companies, increase the level of openness and transparency.” The Kyrgyz Prime Minister also encouraged more active participation from the private sector on digital development, noting that the “state should not implement all projects independently.”
Turning to the United States, the Sunlight Foundation evaluated the open government state of affairs under the Trump administration. Acknowledging that former president Barack Obama left the White House with a “mixed record on open government,” Sunlight found that open government programs, including OGP, are currently being “ignored, neglected or even forgotten in federal agencies.” Bestowing the responsibility of developing the United States’ fourth OGP action plan upon the General Services Administration, the White House Office of Management and Budget proceeded to delay the action plan’s publication until August 31, 2018. Summarizing its open government findings on both the former and current administrations, Sunlight writes, “[O]ur reporting found a demonstrable shift in the importance of open government plans, initiatives and public disclosure from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration.”
Writing about the open government experience of OGP Local participant Jalisco, Rubén Alonso called for a creating a norm of open government throughout Mexico. In an opinion piece for Grupo Milenio, Rubén emphasized that the strength of open government lies in social momentum and a bottom-up approach. For this reason, he said Mexico must do everything to guarantee and strengthen citizen participation.
Elsewhere in the Americas, La Patria conducted an interview with the new president of Colombia’s Council of State (Consejo de Estado, or CE), Germán Bula. With more cases expected to come before the tribunal, Bula said the Council is prioritizing decongestion. Another challenge for the year ahead, he said, was continuing the Council’s transparency program, which was launched in 2015 as a commitment in Colombia’s second OGP action plan to deliver more effective, transparent, and efficient justice services. Speaking about justice reform more broadly, Bula said all efforts must be “oriented primarily towards what interests the people.”
In Nigeria, Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, noted that the reported improvements to Nigeria’s economy have yet to be reflected in citizens’ everyday lives. At a press briefing covered by Daily Trust, Rafsanjani pointed to high unemployment rates, particularly among youth, as well as unpaid salaries and the recent petrol crisis as evidence of poor economic management. To remedy this, Rafsanjani called on the government to fulfill its OGP commitments for a “more open, transparent and result-oriented” national budget process.
Last but not least, the newly released 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer confirms record distrust in many public institutions. Providing invaluable insights to counter this trend and help #RenewTrust, OGP’s collection of essays titled Trust: The Fight to Win It Back is well worth a (second) read!
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.