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OGP in the News – Week of September 25, 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.

This week, OGP’s press coverage went local, with many media hits highlighting participants in OGP’s Subnational Pilot Program.

Horacio Rodríguez Larreta’s “Proximity to Citizens is Key,” from Trust – the Fight to Win it Back, an OGP collection of essays launched during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, was featured on the Buenos Aires City website. Larreta, the mayor of Buenos Aires (one of OGP’s subnational pioneers), emphasizes the importance of engaging citizens in government decisions, not only to uphold core open government values, but also because citizen input often results in a “better, more legitimate public policy.” He went on to explain what Argentina’s capital city is doing to further collaboration with citizens, including working with fellow OGP subnational pioneer Madrid to create Buenos Aires Elige, a portal on which Buenos Aires residents have already proposed some 26,000 ideas to improve their neighborhoods.  

Across the Atlantic, OGP Subnational Pioneer Madrid, Spain is inspiring countries in the Pacific with its innovative open government and direct democracy initiatives. An article in the Europa Press announced that South Korea has become the first Asian country to join the city’s open source citizen participation platform, Decide Madrid. Madrid City Council member Pablo Soto Bravo showcased Madrid’s citizen participation model before global political and civil society leaders at OGP’s United Nations General Assembly event, explaining that Decide Madrid was born out of mass demonstrations in 2011, with citizens demanding “Direct Democracy Now” in some 50 Spanish cities. According to Soto, only Facebook currently has more users than Decide Madrid.    

More subnational news came out of Austin, Texas, where StateScoop reported that the city’s mayor, Steve Adler, and Chief Innovation Officer, Kerry O’Connor, view the OGP pilot program as an “opportunity to institutionalize the city’s open government efforts.” Austin has five OGP commitments aimed at ensuring equal resource distribution, mapping homelessness, establishing a resident-centric Open and Smart Advisory Group, and tracking city projects. To achieve this last commitment—and in true OGP fashion—Austin is collaborating with Ontario, Canada (another participant in the Subnational Program) and the Mexican government, both of which have launched project trackers. Quoted in the article, OGP’s Subnational Pilot Program Manager Brittany Lane announced that the program will continue in 2018, expanding to include 15 new localities in addition to the current pioneers.

Shifting the OGP lens back to the national level, “Tunisia is at a crossroads,” claims Vivek Ramkumar in an opinion piece for US News. The country has made considerable progress toward democratic reform since December 2010, when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire, sparking a series of political revolutions across Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Morocco, and Jordan. Among its achievements, Tunisia has passed a “very progressive” access to information law and is now considered one of the “top performers in the Arab world” according to the 2015 Open Budget Index. Corruption nevertheless persists, points out the author. And while Tunisia joined OGP in 2014, civil society reformers have criticized its OGP commitments for lacking both ambition and effective implementation. Calling for further change, the author writes, “It is imperative that the government and all stakeholders recognize this moment and undertake further reforms that can truly realize the potential unleashed in this country five years ago.”

Colombia, meanwhile, released its third OGP National Action Plan (NAP). Covered by HSB Noticias and some 20 other national news sources, the new action plan contains commitments that charge not only the national government, but local governments as well, with engaging citizens in government decision-making. According to the article, the government of Colombian department Boyacá will uphold the principle of citizen participation via citizen trainings and publishing information in open data format.  

In other news, September 28 was International Right to Know day. For the occasion, journalist Fabiola P. Canedo authored an opinion piece for El Siglo de Torreón, saying, “There is not much to celebrate in this regard” in the Mexican city of Coahuila. Despite measures enacted under OGP and the State Anti-Corruption System, Moisés Picazo of the civil society association Information and Citizen Participation (IPAC), claims that city’s public officials refuse to release important information related to federal debt.

Last but not least, do you have ten minutes to spare for #opengov? Help us improve the OGP process in your country by participating in a quick survey 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 jacqueline.mcgraw@opengovpartnership.org.

 

 
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