Challenges for Open Government implementation in Mexico

Tomorrow Mexico will become lead Co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The concept of Open Government has gained worldwide importance. This concept combines transparency, access to information, and citizen participation principles, policies and actions oriented to increase government openness and collaboration with civil society in order to attain collective benefits. I am talking about a new organizational culture that produces positive effects and enhances public institution performance.

The OGP is a platform that allows its 64 member countries to build action plans and ambitious commitments together with civil society. However, OGP is not a complacent or opaque initiative; an Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) periodically evaluates processes and results in publicly available reports. 

Mexico’s leadership of OGP comes at a good time. We will be at the global center stage at the same time that our new transparency legal framework, based upon an ambitious constitutional reform, will be discussed. This new legislation will be the cornerstone of the National Transparency System (NTS) to regulate access to information and improve accountability and openness of public institutions. It is a time to decide on key issues, not only about access to information, but about the democracy we want to build. We have an opportunity to establish unprecedented spaces for dialogue and to change the way in which citizens and public servants talk to each other.

The discussion around the secondary legislation and the construction of NST is an opportunity to expand the democratic conversation and take it beyond the election day. Public life and democracy will only be possible if citizens take part in public decisions. Why should they participate? If they do not do so, there must be reasons. Cornelius Castoriadis said, “people should be confident that there participation is making a difference and they should have the opportunity to verify this continuously. And this is possible only if people participate in effective decisions that affect favourably their lives.” We must allow citizens to participate in decision making processes, but we must go beyond in order that these decisions have a positive impact on their daily lives.

We have the opportunity to engage citizens in the implementation of public policies, so we must expand time and spaces for democracy. Let us not overlook the gap between policy design and its actual results. If policies are not implemented effectively, society become disappointed or, as Merilee S. Grindle noted, this can "lead to a general cynicism towards democracy." Improving the implementability of policy involving society at this stage "can strengthen the credibility of the government, increase the welfare of citizens and improve overall satisfaction with democracy."

Circumstances allow us to create unprecedented opportunities for dialogue, as well as to change the rules of the conversation between government and citizens to continue building Mexican democracy on a day to day basis and, thus, establish new parameters and practices for access to information, accountability and transparency that we can share with our OGP partners.

Photo credit: Flickr. Author: Alejandro Tejada