OGP in the News – Week of July 17, 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.
Never short of variety, this week’s OGP coverage highlighted ways citizens can use OGP to take action, including water management in New Zealand, changes to government ethics guidelines in Norway, renewed OGP commitment from Ghana, and an analysis of the Trump administration’s open government record in the United States.
At a time when citizen trust in government may seem at an alltime low, OGP Director of Civil Society Engagement Paul Maassen offers a silver lining. In a piece for The Guardian, he shares six examples of OGP and open government initiatives that are empowering citizens around the world. Whether it be via a whistleblower portal in Nigeria, legislative consultation platforms in Croatia and Brazil, or community scorecards in Mongolia, initiatives like OGP are creating opportunities for everyday citizens to shape their government and improve their lives.
On the topic of citizen participation, South Korean news portal Naver announced that the country’s Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs is recruiting civil society organizations to participate in an OGP Forum at the end of August. During the forum, civil society representatives will work with the government to carry out OGP commitments in South Korea’s 2016-2018 National Action Plan (NAP), including establishing an information disclosure law and implementing the OECD data open index.
Elsewhere in the Pacific, news site Scoop is calling on New Zealand citizens to brainstorm healthy and sustainable solutions that will allow the country to better manage its water resources. In a background article, Scoop Co-Editor Joseph Cederwall outlined numerous reasons for preserving the “overall health and future existence of this finite and depletable system and all the life that relies upon it.” So what is the first step to achieving such a goal? OGP! Cederwall encouraged the government and all of New Zealand’s political parties to “take seriously their Open Government Partnership commitments by undertaking to provide more accurate and detailed information to citizens on water quality policies proposals, research and plans.”
Good news came out of Ghana, where President Akufo Addo delivered an address affirming his commitment to transparency and “revamping” the country’s open data initiative. Citi Business News quoted President Addo speaking about Ghana’s participation in OGP and its positive implications for the future of his government: “For us in Ghana, we signed onto the open government partnership in 2011 which has declared open data as a focus area in order to achieve transparent and accountable governance.”
In nearby Côte d’Ivoire, meanwhile, national news publication Abidjan.net reported that the president of country’s technical OGP committee, Angoua Ehouman Chantal, checked up on status of an OGP commitment spearheaded by the Ministry of Industry and Minerals. Aimed at implicating communities located near resource-rich areas in socioeconomic decisions concerning the exploitation of such resources, the commitment is working to set up local mineral development committees. According to Angoua, this is just one example of how OGP promotes a more collaborative form of governance.
In Norway, two changes to the ethical guidelines for government employees, intended to “safeguard transparency and trust in the state,” were publicized in a press release on the government portal Regjeringen.no. Following the recommendations of Norway’s Civilian Ombudsman, the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization revised the ethical guidelines in order to afford government employees the same freedom of speech protections as “everyone else.” And making good on one of its OGP commitments, the Ministry also announced that it is working to prevent conflicts of interest among government employees by clarifying when state agencies have a “legal basis for requiring information or restricting the ownership and securities trading of the individual.”
Finally, seven months after taking office, what is the Trump administration’s record on open government? The Sunlight Foundation conducted a report to answer this very question. Citing numerous secret meetings, Trump’s refusal to fully divest from his businesses, restricted press briefings, and ambiguity surrounding the government’s involvement in OGP along with a host of other not so open actions and policies, the Sunlight Foundation concluded that the current White House is “allergic to transparency.” To address many of these transparency breaches in the months ahead, the Sunlight Foundation announced its intention to participate in drafting the United States’ fourth OGP action plan. The opengov watchdog also promised to “continue to take stock of the state of our union and what is needed to strengthen the foundations of American democracy.”
Last but not least, representatives from the 15 cities, states, counties and regencies involved in OGP’s Subnational Pilot Program gathered this week in Washington, D.C. for a workshop. Learn more about these pioneers and their inspiring #opengov work by reading our new subnational publication, as well as the subnational-themed July newsletter!
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.