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OGP in the News – Month of January 2017

OGP en las Noticias - enero de 2017

Jacqueline McGraw|

The content of this month’s OGP news coverage spanned a vast array of topics from shifting political orders, to open source debates in Taiwan and France, and renewed support for open government policies in Latin America.

January saw the swearing in of a new president of the United States. In preparation for the administration change, two prominent members of outgoing President Barack Obama’s staff left exit memos mentioning OGP. News portals such as Medium in the United States, Publicnow in Canada, and Military Technologies News in Poland republished John Kerry’s exit memo, in which the former U.S. Secretary of State praised Barack Obama’s leadership in OGP. Technology and analysis site, along with Network World, PC World Australia, ran an article summarizing the cabinet exit memo left by the former Office of Science and Technology Director, John P. Holdren, and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. Among the ten technology priorities listed in the memo, Action 9—”Promote Open Government through Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration”—spoke primarily of the U.S.’s role in OGP and called for implementation of further open government reforms under President Trump.

Following the strong showing of civic tech groups at the 2016 OGP Global Summit, OGP has figured increasingly in discussions about IT transparency. The leading e-commerce site in Taiwan, PC Home Online, as well as Taiwan’s  IT Home Online, ran an article on the “global wave” of open source that was addressed at the OGP Summit. The article highlighted Taiwan’s Digital Political Commissioner and Summit participant Tang Feng’s push for the next phase of open information: Open Application program interface (API). French computer and technology news site NextINpact also covered open source demands by the Association for the Promotion of Open-Source Software (Association de promotion du logiciel libre, or April) along with a coalition of other French civic tech NGOs. These staunch open source defenders have gone so far as to denounce a number of startups represented at the 2016 OGP Global Summit who do not use open source platforms.

Offering a counter perspective, OGP press coverage this month touched on the complications of establishing openness as an “ordre du jour.” An opinion piece by Andy Oram of the technology development company and website, O’Reilly Media, referenced OGP and its growing membership to suggest that “transparency is the great rallying cry of our time.” Republished by several major Chinese publications, the article explored potential risks of too much transparency, particularly within the open source movement. An opinion piece in France’s La Tribune recognized the opportunities the “digital revolution” represents for civic space within the framework of open government models such as that of OGP. The authors—Alexandre Malafaye, President of French think tank SYNOPIA and Fabrice Lorvo—nonetheless offered similar warnings about technology undermining public opinion.

Andrew Clarke of the Omidyar Network authored a Medium blog in which he hailed OGP as one of the “globally significant milestones” of the open government movement, and challenged open government reformers with the following question: “Is getting to ‘open’ good enough, or do we need to tear down our outdated institutions and start again?”

A concrete example of transparency controversy came out of Brazil where Brazilian weekly Época covered a debate between Renato Morgado, an employee of the forest conservation NGO, Imaflora, and participant at the 2016 OGP Global Summit in Paris, and the National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA) about whether or not data from the country’s Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) should be made public.

In other news, Yahoo! Noticias and Terra in the U.S. and Grupo Fórmula in Mexico reported that Secretary of Civil Service (SFP) Arely Gomez González is attempting to fulfill commitments made at the 3rd OGP Global Summit and curb corruption in Mexico by signing an agreement requiring public procurement contract information to be incorporated into the government’s electronic information system, CompraNet. Also in Mexico, the government’s official website published a new bill that establishes regulation guidelines for the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), including open government processes and the coordination and participation in OGP.

In Colombia, W Radio reported that President Juan Manuel Santos signed an “Open State Declaration” during a high-level meeting convened by members of OGP. Furthermore, El Heraldo covered a “historic day for transparency” in Honduras as President Juan Orlando Hernández approved the Law on Financing of Political Parties to prevent “bad” funding to political parties. The publication also recognized Honduras’ Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST), which earned the country a prestigious third place prize in the 2016 Open Government Awards.

Coverage of #OGP16 continued across the globe. The widely viewed European Commission platform, Joinup, featured several articles highlighting key Summit events and achievements, including the official launch of the Contracting 5 initiative, Hungary’s withdrawal from the partnership, and the 21 collective actions outlined in the Paris Declaration. The German legal news platform, JuraForum, along with several other specialized news sites, ran an article about the country joining OGP. Finally, a number of news stories spotlighting Tanzania at the OGP Global Summit can be found on OGP’s YouTube channel while a series of interviews conducted by France’s CFImedias is also available.

And last but not least, good news came for OGP partner BudgIT, which received a $1.5 million grant from the Omidyar Network to advance Nigeria’s transparency agenda. A PR Newswire article picked up by over 130 publications around the world quoted BudgIT co-founder Oluseun Onigbind emphasizing the “crucial” role OGP plays in supporting BudgIT’s advocacy work for responsible and transparent public spending.

Open Government Partnership