OGP in the News – Week of March 12, 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.
This week’s global OGP media coverage followed conversations about anti-corruption measures in Mexico, the next #ArgentinaAbierta forum, the history of open government in Indonesian regency Bojonegoro, and more.
Describing the “devastating” effect of corruption on countries’ economic and social landscape, Commissioner of Mexico’s National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), Ximena Puente de la Mora, outlined steps Mexico has taken to tackle corruption. Writing for El Financiero, she explained that the government created a National Transparency System and the National Anti-Corruption Commission to promote various open government initiatives, including those at the local level. More recently, INAI participated in a forum organized by the Global Alliance for Social Accountability (GPSA) to foster accountability in education. Commissioner Puente referenced Mexico’s third OGP Action Plan, which contains a number of commitments devoted to increasing transparency and accountability. She called on all citizens to further this mission, pointing out that the “issue of education, like so many others, will not be solved with public policies alone. The voices of citizens must be heard and citizens need to be more involved in following up on tasks carried out by the authorities.”
Further south, 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 earned a reputation for being a space where experts, government officials, students, and any 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 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. The Minister also encouraged a cultural change to embrace open government, pointing out that it can “improve our democracy, legitimize public policies through citizen participation, minimize the chances of corruption, and restore trust in public institutions.”
While advocates of Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation and open government initiatives are often thought to champion a similar mission, a few academics claimed, this week, that open government is a “potential threat” to FOI progress. Originally featured on The Conversation and republished by WTOP.com, the piece was written by three professors from Rutgers University (United States), Tilburg University (Netherlands), and the London School of Economics (United Kingdom). The authors claimed to have observed a “different kind of challenge” to FOI laws in the last decade: the open government movement, or what they call the “new kid on the block.” Acknowledging that the FOI and open government movements share a “fundamental goal” of government transparency, the authors also wrote that the “open government movement threatens to harm FOI by cornering the already limited public and private funding and government staffing available for transparency work.” The authors highlighted overlap between the two transparency movements, including participation in OGP, and recognized that open government can bolster FOI by encouraging more publically available data and the passage of FOI laws. However, they warned against substituting work on FOI with open data measures. The authors called for a “commitment by government to have any new or merged systems reflect the goals of both FOI and open government.”
In Nigeria, governors from the country’s South East states committed to improving fiscal policies at the South East Governors’ Forum (SEGF), organized in partnership with the Department for International Development (DfID). In an article run by Vanguard, SEGF Director-General Simon Ortuanya explained that the forum was intended to help Nigeria’s South East states benefit from the peer learning opportunities built into both the country’s Fiscal Sustainability Plan and OGP platform. In order to make “align the budgets with the aims, aspirations, and direction of the people,” Ortuanya said that the budget process must be “open and transparent.”
Increased cooperation between Serbia and Georgia was the main topic of discussion during a high-level meeting between Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze. Covered by Serbian news outlets Alo! and N1info Serbia, the two leaders recognized similarities between their countries’ culture, tradition, and history. Minister Janelidze of Georgia stressed potential economic partnerships between Georgia and Serbia, while Prime Minister Brnabić pointed to the Public Administration Reform Treaty, which commits both countries to building more efficient and transparent administrations, as an important step to increased cooperation. Minister Janelidze invited Serbia’s Prime Minister Brnabić to attend the fifth OGP Global Summit in Tbilisi from July 17-19, explaining that representatives from all over the world will collaborate to further the principles of open government.
At the local level, Jawapos.com documented the open government journey of Indonesian regency Bojonegoro. Since coming to power in 2008, Regent Suyoto Ngartep Mustajab—or Kang Yoto—committed to restoring public trust in the regency government by encouraging greater involvement from the community. He began what is known as the Public Dialogue, held each Friday in the Pendapa Malawapati and broadcasted live on the radio. Bojonegoro has also taken full advantage of the country’s national complaint mechanism, LAPOR, to receive and respond to complaints from Bojonegoro residents. And in 2016, the regency became one of 15 local governments selected to participate in the pilot tier of the OGP Local Program. Head of Bojonegoro’s Office of Communications and Information Technology, Kusnandaka Tjatur, said that fulfilling all of the regency’s OGP commitments is not easy. He noted, for example, that only 73% of the government’s data has been made public.
Last but not least, our friends at Results for Development (R4D) on will be presenting the the Open Government Costing Initiatives’ Priceless report on March 23, 2018. Register for the webinar 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.