OGP in the News – Week of April 10, 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.
This week’s OGP news roundup includes skepticism about political engagement in Brazil, doubts for the future of the United States’ transparency agenda, and signs of #opengov success in Australia and Buenos Aires.
Three years after the Lavo Jato (Car Wash) scandal incited massive protests across Brazil, concerns are being raised about declining civic engagement among citizens , who are said to be suffering from “corruption fatigue.” An article in The Christian Science Monitor and republished by Yahoo! News explored this phenomenon, noting that a rise in investigative journalism and increasing support for international transparency standards, such as OGP, have resulted in greater public awareness of corruption in Brazil. The former vice president of Costa Rica Kevin Casas Zamora, quoted in the article, said that he is “very persuaded by the notion that these [acts of corruption] have been happening for a long, long time . . . The big difference now is that we know about it. Because there’s more transparency and the information that gets out there circulates much faster than before.” And while Casas credited transparency with fueling initial social momentum around anti-corruption efforts, he also recognized that it can have a “devastating effect” on public trust in the short run.
Meanwhile, some foreign officials are starting to cast doubt on the United States’ commitment to transparency and anti-corruption, particularly as the Trump administration faces continued accusations of conflicts of interest. In a piece for Mother Jones, reporters Andy Kroll and Russ Choma highlighted the contrast concerning issues of transparency between former President Obama’s administration, which helped champion OGP’s creation, and that of President Trump, which “has yet to say whether it will continue working with OGP.”
On a brighter note, business technology news website ZDNet reported open government progress in Australia, where the country’s 2016-2018 OGP action plan commitments are addressing widespread public concerns over access to data and privacy, as well as corporate transparency and accountability. Among the 15 total commitments are initiatives to create access to information laws “appropriate for the digital age,” increase public trust around data sharing, and establish a permanent dialogue mechanism for civil society and government that “will include people from beyond the usual-suspect non-government players.”
In Africa, several articles in pan-African news aggregator AllAfrica.com covered OGP CEO Sanjay Pradhan’s recent visit to Liberia. In a meeting with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Pradhan applauded the Liberian President’s commitment to OGP: “The quality of leadership of you Madam President in the OGP Process and overall governance in Liberia truly makes you an OGP Champion. Access to information is also a strong pillar of Liberia’s Open Government process.”
In Italy, the city of Turin is gearing up to participate in the 2017 International Space Apps Challenge from April 29 to 30. Born out of an OGP commitment in the first United States action plan, this annual 48-hour hackathon is sponsored by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and includes events around the world. According to an article in Diariodelweb.it, Turin is one of 170 cities participating in this year’s “Earth” Space Apps challenge, which aims to enlighten people about the world we live in and pave the way for planet’s future.
And what will the upcoming presidential elections in neighboring France mean for the country’s technological future? In an opinion piece for L’Obs, the co-founder of the French investment firm The Family, and associate professor at University Paris-Dauphine, Nicolas Colin, described France as being slow to adapt to the “digital economy,” with a history marked by periods of technological advancement only to be paused by political indifference. He noted that President François Hollande, for example, did not recognize the importance of digitization until later on in his presidential term, when he oversaw France’s joining of OGP. The author, however, feels hopeful that France is on the cusp of change, due in part to the vacuum that will likely be created by U.S. President Trump’s own indifference toward technology, a burgeoning ecosystem of French entrepreneurs, and presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s longtime enthusiasm for start-ups.
Finally, Argentina’s El Economista announced that the Government of Buenos Aires – one of OGP’s 15 subnational pioneers – gave presentations on its open data and open budget portals. As reiterated by the city’s Minister of Modernization, Innovation and Technology, Andy Freire, both of these open government initiatives represent an “opportunity to foster innovative participation in order to collectively work on improving the city.” Searchable, user-friendly, and complete with data visualization systems, the portals allow the citizens of Buenos Aires to use public data to more closely monitor the city’s spending and tap into their own ingenuity to develop applications that can solve everyday problems.
And last but not least, our friends at Sin Corrupción, an Argentinian news portal devoted entirely to corruption, put together a short video of OGP CEO Sanjay Pradhan speaking about the growing number of OGP commitments around anti-corruption.
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.