OGP in the News – March 2017
A series providing a round-up of media attention received by the Open Government Partnership throughout the world. Want to receive OGP in the News directly in your email inbox every Monday morning? Subscribe here.
Between Open Data Day, OGP Steering Committee Elections, and Global Co-Creation Week, March was packed with OGP headlines.
The month started off with a swell of open government excitement as people from around the world celebrated International Open Data Day on March 4. The Guardian commemorated the day with an article highlighting six different countries—all OGP countries—whose “open data and openness principles are gaining momentum to inspire progress and success in 2017.” And in Italy, Open Data Day was just the start of Open Government Week (#SAA2017), a series of hackathons, webinars, and discussions organized by the Department of Public Administration to encourage greater participation in OGP. According to Italian news sources Il Sole 24 Ore and Tiscali, Italy’s open data portal and lobbying regulation were hot topics of discussion throughout the week. While Italy has not had a national regulatory lobbying framework since 1976, some progress was reportedly made when the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) fulfilled a key commitment in Italy’s third OGP action plan in September 2016 by successfully implementing a lobby registry.
On March 17, OGP issued a press release announcing that Canada, Italy, South Africa and South Korea were elected to join seven other governments and eleven civil society organizations in leading the Open Government Partnership. Yahoo! Finance, Canada’s Digital Journal, Germany’s FinanzNachrichten.de, South Korea’s Naver, and India’s Business Standard were among the dozens of news sources worldwide to publicize the 2017 Steering Committee Election results. The new Steering Committee members will begin their three-year term on October 1, 2017.
In Europe, El Confidencial announced that government officials from Spain’s Ministry of Finance and Public Function are working to establish an open government commission to draft the country’s 2017-2019 National Action Plan (NAP). Germany is also among the 30 OGP countries currently developing an action plan to be presented before the OGP Steering Committee in June. In preparation for the country’s first ever NAP, Heise Online reported that German civil society presented the federal government with a 100-page list of commitment recommendations, covering a gamut of themes from freedom of information to open science.
Further east, Ukrainian ambassador to France, Oleg Shamshur, authored a piece in France’s oldest daily, Le Figaro, reflecting on Ukraine’s rapid transition toward transparency following the Maidan Revolution of February 2014. Crediting the strength of Ukrainian civil society with this “internal metamorphosis,” Shamshur highlighted recent successes like government procurement platform and 2016 Open Government award winner ProZorro.
Does joining OGP pay off… literally? A recent meeting covered by Pakistan’s The Express Tribune between Italian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Benedetto Della Vedova and Paskistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar would suggest yes! While discussing economic cooperation between the countries, Vedova commended Pakistan’s commitment both to OGP and to the OECD Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.
Across the Atlantic, Mexico’s National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information, and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) and the Center for Research and Teaching Economics (CIDE) publicized the results of their joint 2017 Open Government Report. Picked up by El Universal and a number of other national news sources, the report gave Mexico an overall transparency score of 0.39 on a scale of 0 (closed) to 1 (open), revealing that unions and trusts were the most opaque government bodies, while decentralized institutions, such the Executive and Legislative branches, were more open in terms of decision-making. Elsewhere in Mexico, El Economista analyzed a study by telecommunications trade organization 5G Americas on the increasing role of e-government in closing the gap between citizens and government in Latin America. Both the article and study underscored that this trend toward greater openness is reflected in OGP’s strong representation in the region – there are 15 OGP countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In North America, Alyssa Canobbio of The Washington Free Beacon shed doubt on former United States president Barack Obama’s supposed legacy of openness. Noting that the Obama administration spent $36 million on lawsuits defending denied access to certain federal documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the author also cited discrepancies between the government’s 2013 self-assessment and the 2011-2013 OGP Progress Report.
And last but not least, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, or rather his controversial portrayal in the film The Social Network, has inspired an OGP youth reformer in South Africa. National newspaper The Times profiled Matriculant Moses Mhlwana, a highschool student from Pretoria who, after watching The Social Network, became interested in IT and went on to participate in the Hack4Water competition run by the Department of Water and Sanitation and OGP South Africa. Mhlwana and three friends wowed the judges with their high-tech water tank prototype which saves water by allowing “water users to digitally select the amount of water they need” and recycling any water that may be spilled.
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.