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OGP in the News – Week of June 27, 2016

Alex Vedovi |

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

This week, as eight countries submitted their new National Action Plans, there was news coverage related to OGP on all continents. It was perhaps strongest in Africa – particularly in Nigeria, where OGP’s seventieth and newest member continued to make headlines in connection with its efforts to combat corruption.

An article in Abuja’s Daily Trust, reproduced in AllAfrica.com, spoke of the size of Nigeria’s challenges as the current administration pursues its “anti-graft” agenda. Following an announcement by the Nigerian government that it has recovered more than $10 billion in looted cash and assets, the Africa regional director for Transparency International urged the government to take further steps to improve public trust, and encouraged it to follow through on its pledge to participate in OGP. These sentiments were echoed in an article in Naija247News, which asserted that the battle could not be fought by the president alone and that a “public buy-in” was necessary.

In addition, YNaija featured a piece entitled “5 things to know about Open Government Partnership,” to mark the “confirmation of Nigeria’s membership of the initiative.” And an article on civil society participation in reform efforts by Nigerian open government campaigner Stanley Achonu ran in Naija247News, The ScoopNG and NewsWireNGR. It began with the following words:

“It is that tangible leap from saying ‘this is the problem’ to adding: ‘these are the exact steps we could take together to eradicate it’ that puts the action into collaboration.”

Elsewhere in Africa, South African Deputy Minister and OGP Steering Committee co-chair Ayanda Dlodlo co-hosted a youth dialogue on open government, land reform and economic development in the province of Mpumalanga – an event that was picked up by AllAfrica.com, The New Age and Pretoria East RekordWinnie Kamau of Kenya prepared this op-ed for Talk Africa, which outlined her reflections on the OGP Africa Regional Meeting in Cape Town and open data developments across Africa. L’Opinion of Tunisia cited OGP in a string of pieces on corruption, media and open government.

Latin America, meanwhile, also offered plenty of OGP news. An op-ed in Prensa Libre of Guatemala spoke on open government and the development of the country’s new National Action Plan. In Mexico, OGP was discussed in La Jornada, La Reforma and a number of other sources as the country’s public procurator announced that, after taking steps to involve citizens more directly, the number of sanctions successfully leveled against corrupt officials had gone up markedly. She added that her Transparency Unit would be participating in the development of the Mexico’s next Action Plan. Moreover, La Opinión of Argentina ran an op-ed on “digital freedom” which referenced OGP, and news of last weekend’s IRM Jamboree in Madrid made its way into a variety of outlets in the Dominican Republic.

Just north, in the United States, OGP was given a starring role in Thursday’s White House fact sheet on President Obama’s signature of the FOIA Improvement Act: the organization was hailed as a notable step in the “drive to increase transparency and openness in government.” Elsewhere in the (former) Cabinet, a picture of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 2011 OGP pre-launch event at the State Department accompanied a well-syndicated piece on the questions surrounding her use of a private email server. In the legislative branch, the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony on the subject of corruption and failing governance, during which Gayle Smith of USAID praised OGP’s efforts and spoke of USAID’s support for our work. (A video of her testimony can be seen here.)

Finally, in the Asia-Pacific region, civil society input in the development of Sri Lanka’s next National Action Plan was discussed in Ceylon Today; the subnational pilot project in Bojonegoro, Indonesia was featured in Moneter.co.id; and on InnovationAus.com OGP was referenced in an op-ed on technology and innovation in the context of Australia’s current elections.

And last but not least, as they re-commit their countries to OGP values, don’t these North American leaders look like they’re just having fun?