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OGP in the News – Week of June 13, 2016

Alex Vedovi|

A series providing a round-up of media attention received by the Open Government Partnership throughout the world.

This week the main theme in OGP-related news and chatter from across the globe was one of OGP’s core values: freedom of information.

Perhaps the most significant article came out of the Philippines, where Benigno Aquino III – who came to office in 2010 and helped the Philippines become a founding member of OGP in 2011 – is in the final month of his presidency. In a vigorous analysis entitled “What happened to FOI under Aquino?” on Filipino news site Rappler, author Raisa Serafica took stock of the president’s accomplishments and disappointments in the area of transparency – particularly with regard to a long-promised freedom of information bill:

While the Aquino administration failed to have the bill passed, it doesn’t mean it did nothing to introduce and encourage citizen participation and open governance. As soon as Aquino assumed the presidency, his administration made big strides and laid the groundwork for promoting transparency in the bureaucracy.

The Aquino administration implemented full disclosure policies, the “seal of good local governance,” a cashless purchase system, and inaugurated its open government data web portal, to name a few. The government’s bottom-up budgeting and citizen participatory audit projects even bagged international awards for two consecutive years from the Open Government Partnership.

Elsewhere in Asia, a pair of articles in South Korea’s Naver and Oh My News mentioned OGP in connection with criticisms about lack of forward movement on President Park Geun-hye’s anti-corruption endeavors. In Chinese media outlets, a number of articles on big data and smart cities cited OGP. Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror and several other outlets announced that OGP Point of Contact Harim Peiris was appointed as an advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. And in Pakistan, an op-ed on the “significance of accountability” from the Daily Times spoke highly of international initiatives, such as OGP, while lamenting Pakistan’s corruption woes.

In France, meanwhile, momentum continues to build for this year’s OGP Global Summit. An opinion piece titled ‘Using Big Data against populism’ appeared in Les Echos, in which writer Yann Coatanlem commended the work of organizations like OGP and France’s Etalab, while arguing that more still needs to be done to ensure public access to information. In a similar vein, an article appeared in the digital rights blog in Germany, where politicians recently expressed interest in OGP. The article covered freedom of information-related developments in several OGP member states, particularly the United States, Italy and Spain.

In Argentina, where consultations on the country’s second National Action Plan recently concluded, a pair of articles in Diario UNO and MDZ Online of the city of Mendoza reported on a ruling by the province’s Supreme Court, which cited the country’s membership in OGP. Declaring that all public officials working under the judiciary would henceforth be obligated to make annual public asset disclosures, the Court stated: “[s]ince October 2012, our country has been a member of the Open Government Partnership and has adhered to the Open Government Declaration… the fight against corruption, through the promotion of transparency policies, is taking on an ever more important place in government agendas, and this is no different for Supreme Courts.”

Across the Atlantic in Tunisia, there was a focus on disclosure and transparency in the hydrocarbons industry. La Presse de Tunisie ran an article about the country’s new open data portal on extractive contracts and production, which referenced OGP. L’Economiste Maghrebin published an interview with Minister Aisha Karafi on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and she opened her comments by citing OGP.

Elsewhere, the European Commission website publicized the ongoing OGP Awards process (registration for which ends June 27), and ran a round-up of freedom of information developments around the world, which included a nod to a recently prepared report by Florencia Guerzovich and Michael Moses of Global Integrity. The report is based on OGP’s impact in Albania, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Philippines and Tanzania.

And last but not least, hot off the presses, this new booklet offers a selection of “starred” OGP reforms… and only the most ambitious and potentially transformative receive stars!

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