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Faces of Open Government – Milagros Ortiz Bosch

Rostros de Gobierno Abierto: Milagros Ortiz Bosch

This year, OGP and Abrelatam/ConDatos together with the Dominican Republic organized “América Abierta” in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from September 26 to 29, as a space to reflect on how to build a more open, transparent, participatory, and accountable Latin America.

The Advisor to the Executive Branch on Ethics, Transparency, and Anti-Corruption and Director General of Ethics and Government Integrity of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Milagros Ortiz Bosch, sat down with OGP to share her reflections on the open government process in the country and why the government and civil society are co-organizing América Abierta. 

1. What does open government mean, and why is it important? 

It is a paradigm shift in public management based on several fundamental axes: citizen participation and collaboration, access to information, accountability, integrity, and the use of new technologies, to promote the co-creation of sustainable public policies that foster the development and quality of life, restoring citizen trust in the government.

Open government is relevant because when governments are more open and transparent with their citizens, they inspire greater confidence, provide collaboration and co-creation spaces, and promote quality public policies with a common goal: all their citizens.

2. The Dominican Republic is co-creating its fifth national action plan with civil society organizations, journalists, advocates, activists, and other actors. What initiatives has the country been able to advance through OGP and what issues should be addressed in the next plan?

Through the open government action plans, we have developed significant initiatives: the Transactional Portal for Public Procurement and Contracting in the Dominican Republic and the Single Transparency Portal of the Dominican Republic. This last one aims to make information available to citizens directly from the source, thus launching a process of systems interoperability such as the Financial Management Information System (SIGEF, per its Spanish acronym), the Public Servants Administration System (SASP), the Transactional Portal for Public Purchasing and Contracting and other management systems.

At the legislative level, the Dominican Republic passed the Law on the Protection of Personal Data and the Law on the Sworn Declaration of Patrimony from Public Officials.

Also, the country developed the Single Treasury Account, a financial tool that centralizes all public resources in a single bank account. Now, all the payments made by the institutions will be only channeled through the National Treasury, thus helping increase control and guaranteeing greater transparency in treasury management. The resources are directly incorporated into the budget stream, allowing them to be operated within the programming approach established by the laws of the Public Financial Administration System, permitting a transparent consolidation of public income and expenditure.

Another open government commitment is the disclosure of the institutional transparency evaluation system to monitor compliance with General Law 200-04 on Free Access to Public Information. Likewise, the pilot to implement integrity, transparency, and accountability instruments in Local Governments aims to increase transparency in the territories.

Given the proposals and problems that citizens have expressed in the thematic tables, the V National Plan of Action should include a commitment regarding mental health, a highly relevant issue, especially after COVID-19. This commitment must be enhanced by transparency, information technology and communication, and innovation in the provision of public services.

3. The Dominican Republic will host Open Americas/América Abierta, an event that will bring together reformers from the open government and open data communities to assess successes so far, challenges we still face, and roadmaps to build a more open region. Why did the Dominican Republic agree to co-host this event, and what do you hope will come of it?

The Dominican Republic has shown significant progress in open data and open government: in March 2022, the country created the first National Open Data Policy available to citizens through presidential decree No. 103-22. This decree also instructed the creation of the National Open Data Commission to manage the opening of public information in open formats.

Likewise, before the co-creation of its fifth national action plan, the country issued decrees No. 713-2021 and No. 9-22 to promote the principles of Open Government in the Dominican Public Administration. The public administration should encourage citizen participation and collaboration, innovation, the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and the creation of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum for an Open Government.

 These two milestones, together with the rescue of international commitments, gave way for the Dominican Republic to request the Organization of American States (OAS) to host Abrelatam and Con Datos. The international community welcomed the request. Subsequently, the country was invited to host the Regional Meeting of the Alliance for Open Government. América Abierta brings together these three international events in a single significant space.

The Dominican Republic agreed to host América Abierta to resume the much-needed social and economic recovery for our countries after two years in which we faced great challenges due to the pandemic. 

It is necessary to create spaces for dialogue where civil society, the business sector, experts, and politicians from the Americas can meet with the interest of having an impact in the region. They will have to agree on how to implement the best policies and practices in terms of transparency, participation, open data, integrity, innovation, development and capacities of countries and societies.

3. Now that hundreds of people will be visiting your country at the end of September for Open Americas/América Abierta, what is your message to the participants?

América Abierta has a special significance for us. It will be happening two years after an unexpected health situation forced our continent to cling, as a certain path to survival, to the already unstoppable development of information technology. We were locked up but linked by the company of a computer.

During those days, we finished the fourth open government action plan and started building the fifth; while Open Data policies continued to create a new Right to Know paradigm.

This event is the accountability of the work we put in during those years of confinement and its results. It is a way of highlighting the ability to set a practical course for sustainable, human development, without exclusion. It is a way to show us what we have advanced and what we can learn and undertake. 

That America Abierta takes place in our country gives great satisfaction and gratitude to civil society, the Dominican Government, and all citizens. America Abierta, I repeat, has a special significance for us. It reminds us of another unexpected event on the route of the discoverers, in October 1492, from this land, the Dominican Republic developed a tie with the continent, America, and the Caribbean. This is not an unexpected meeting. it is America building its modernity, its vision of the future. Welcome to the Dominican Republic.

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