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Faces of Open Government: Delia Ferreira

OGP Support Unit|

What can we do to retake the anti-corruption agenda, captured by populist leaders?

I don’t think the agenda was captured, what is captured is the narrative. We need to make clear that it is one thing to talk about corruption, but being committed to ending it is completely different. Highlighting the gap between words and actions in public or private service can help citizens assess how coherent campaign promises are and how trustworthy candidates might be. Showing the truth or falseness of their statements can help citizens gain knowledge and take control, ask the necessary questions and demand accountability.  

This is increasingly relevant in a context of fake news, misinformation and “troll” armies that criticize those of us who want to express ourselves in social media and create instability. Because, in the end, you do not know what is true and what is not, and you end up confined to a bubble that only reaffirms your thoughts, where you cannot meet different opinions.

How can we make sure that the high-level commitments established at events such as IACC and #OGPGeorgia actually translate to action?

That is the core issue. The three main anticorruption events, OECD, OGP and now TI, have concurred in acknowledging that now is the time to take action. We have established endless anticorruption commitments, statements and international conventions, regulations, institutions and tools. But it does not mean that we are using them, that they are being enforced, or that they are actually being implemented. I think we need to move to action, implementation, demand accountability and show a red card – in futbol terms – when a given country or private sector entity fails to act correctly.

What would you like to see in the next generation of OGP action plans?

OGP has an advantage over other organizations: the fact that it brings together governments and civil society organizations. This alliance must be completely balanced. In OGP, we are all equal, and civil society does not come after the government. The action plan co-creation mechanism has been useful to maintain that balance, but we must acknowledge that certain government institutions have used it solely to seek legitimacy.

Action plan assessments provide a track record of completion, so we can identify and close implementation gaps. As a Steering Committee Member, I am often faced with the discussion of “What do we do with commitments that were not implemented? Should they be included in the following action plan?” No. We demand those who are responsible to live up to their word.. It is not about repeating or eliminating commitments that were not implemented. We must do something.

Why are local governments crucial for anti-corruption?

Local governments are key. The foundation for democracy depends on the proximity of government to its citizens and the ability of citizens to interact with their local authorities. This is more likely to happen at the local level.

What does open government mean to you?

It means acknowledging that we can no longer make decisions apart from the citizenry. Citizens must be listened to and invited to participate. For that, we need information. This needs to be highlighted. I recently read that certain parliaments were meeting with robots and people were fascinated by that. I would like to tell public officials: before meeting with robots, meet with your citizens.

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