OGP in the News – Week of August 1, 2016
A series providing a round-up of media attention received by the Open Government Partnership throughout the world.
This week, OGP was featured in stories on all continents, though coverage was strongest in Europe, Africa and Latin America. With regard to the latter, likely the biggest news item came out of Uruguay, as the country came in first in the region in the UN’s most recent E-Government Survey. Articles on the distinction appeared in over 30 Spanish-language outlets, including Terra, Taringa! and El País of Uruguay. They reported on the significance of initiatives such as the OGP Award-winning “ATuServicio.uy,” which the survey report itself highlighted as an illustration of E-government bolstering the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goal 3, “Good health and well-being”:
Another example comes from the Government of Uruguay which won in 2015 an Open Partnership Award for its website “ATuServicio.uy.” This initiative allows direct access to key performance indicators of every health care service in Uruguay, and includes official and updated data on average wait times for treatment, user satisfaction and fee structures by providers, among others. The program’s objective was to drastically increase access to the indicators of 100% of the health care providers in Uruguay.
Mexico was also the source of quite a bit of OGP-related news this week. Terra, national periodicals La Jornada and Proceso, and around a dozen local outlets reported that 23 of the country’s 31 states have now signed on to a national open government initiative. The initiative obliges state governments to create spaces for public scrutiny of government functioning, promote citizen participation in service delivery and generally help “strengthen the Open Government Partnership at the national level.” And on this note, just as countries have open government National Action Plans, in Mexico, some states develop them as well, and this week the State of Coahuila released a new plan. As reported by Milenio and Zócalo Saltillo, the new one-year plan includes six openness commitments in areas such as educational workers’ pensions and information on public debt.
On the African front, an op-ed entitled “Tunisia At a Governing Crossroads” ran in the U.S. News and World Report and was reproduced by Yahoo Finance Canada. In it, Vivek Ramkumar offered an analysis of the country’s development after five years of democratic rule, concluding:
In 2014, amid much international acclaim, Tunisia joined the Open Government Partnership, which provides an international platform to enable domestic reformers to make high-profile commitments to advance openness and responsiveness in government operations. Unfortunately, Tunisia has made commitments that many local civil society organizations believe lack ambition, do not involve important government ministries, and have been poorly implemented…. Tunisia is at a crossroads. On the one hand, the country has made much progress in realizing the desire for political freedom that motivated tens of thousands of Tunisians to risk their lives and take to the streets during the uprising in 2011. On the other hand, the gains achieved so far are just a beginning. It is imperative that the government and all stakeholders recognize this moment and undertake further reforms that can truly realize the potential unleashed in this country five years ago.
To the south, Nigeria’s process of joining OGP was once again publicized in the country in outlets such as THISDAY and Business Day. Business Day additionally ran a piece on the rise of non-oil revenues to the country which spoke of joining the Partnership as a ‘happy’ development, as OGP allows citizens to hold their governments to a “set of voluntary but ambitious commitments.” In Cote d’Ivoire, a French-language press release from a council of ministers, which was featured in AllAfrica.com and Abidjan.net, reaffirmed the country’s commitment to OGP, describing it as a “locomotive” for open government in the region. In Ghana, a variety of outlets – including GhanaWeb, Modern Ghana, Peace FM, The Ghanaian Times and News Ghana – published articles on a coalition led by OGP collaborator Vitus Azeem which is urging the government to pass a Right to Information bill before terms end in January 2017. And as reported by ReliefWeb, in a new report on the Central African Republic, the Enough Project recommends eventual membership in OGP, whose principles “should be used as a guidepost for the government,” as part of its first recommendation to CAR – that is, ‘establishing robust and independent anti-corruption institutions.’
In Europe, meanwhile, a pair of posts from the European Commission website noted how Ireland, Romania, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Georgia and Italy had all been given “star” status by the Independent Reporting Mechanism. In the Czech Republic, the website Parliamentary Sheets documented the government’s release of a self-assessment of its 2014-2016 National Action Plan. And in France, Next Inpact described how, following a 2014 episode in which thousands of volunteers had to retype scanned handwritten forms, a new open data commitment will ensure that all official documents be in an ‘open and usable format.’
Elsewhere in the world, Malaysiakini and Free Malaysia Today reported on praise for a new asset declaration proposal for all state assemblypersons in Selangor, Malaysia’s most populous state; the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) welcomed the proposition and urged the federal government to take similar steps, saying that such policies are a ‘major criteria for inclusion in the Open Government Partnership.’ The World Resources Institute cited OGP in describing how to build strong and inclusive accountability frameworks, one of “6 Lessons on Sustainable Development from the High-Level Political Forum.” Finally, FreedomInfo.org reported the OGP Steering Committee’s decision to undertake a “strategic refresh” to improve the “quality of the national co-creation processes,” the “design and uptake of the independent review mechanism” and the “transparency and accountability” of the Steering Committee; the piece concluded with a link to five years of OGP articles from FreedomInfo.org.
And last but not least, are you ready for an #OpenGov workout?
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.