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OGP in the News – Week of March 13, 2017

Jacqueline McGraw |

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

This was a week of exciting #opengov results, with news of the 2017 OGP Steering Committee Elections spanning the globe, the winners of the #opengovgram contest popping up on Instagram, and the findings of an Open Government Report making headlines in Mexico.

The results of the 2017 OGP Steering Committee Government Elections are in and the international press has taken note! Of the twelve countries that applied, Canada, Italy, South Africa and South Korea were elected to join seven other governments and eleven civil society organizations in leading the Open Government Partnership. Following an OGP press release, the election results appeared in Yahoo! Finance, Canada’s Digital Journal, Germany’s FinanzNachrichten.de, and even India’s Business Standard. The new Steering Committee members will begin their three-year term on October 1, 2017.

Mexico had a check-up on its transparency this week after the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information, and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) and the Center for Research and Teaching Economics (CIDE) publicized the results of their joint 2017 Open Government Report. Measuring to what extent Mexican citizens can participate in the decision-making process within various government institutions, the report’s results appeared in over a dozen national news sources, including two articles in El Universal, Milenio, and Terra. Giving Mexico an overall transparency score of 0.39 on a scale of 0 (closed) to 1 (open), the report revealed that unions and trusts were the most opaque government bodies, while decentralized institutions, such the Executive and Legislative branches, were more open in terms of decision-making. Cristina Ruelas, director of Article 19 Mexico, and OGP Deputy Director Alonso Cerdan encouraged continued open government efforts, with Alonso saying:

 

[Citizen participation] is the most critical matter. If we do not strengthen the mechanisms for participation, it is unlikely that we will be able to show that open government is an alternative to populism, authoritarianism and the drivers of marginalization, racism and hate.

 

Elsewhere in Mexico, El Economista analyzed a study by telecommunications trade organization 5G Americas on the increasing role of e-government in closing the gap between citizens and government in Latin America. Both the article and study underscored that this trend toward greater openness is reflected in OGP’s strong representation in the region – there are 15 OGP countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

And while some people have expressed concern about the future of open government in the United States under the Trump administration, Alyssa Canobbio of The Washington Free Beacon  reflected on issues of  transparency under former president Barack Obama. The author noted that the Obama administration spent $36 million on lawsuits defending denied access to certain federal documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). She also cited the discrepancies between the government’s 2013 self-assessment and the 2011-2013 OGP Progress Report to suggest that, at times, the Obama administration overstated its level of openness.

In Nigeria, an article in Vanguard quoted Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami recounting Nigeria’s progress since joining OGP in 2016. Among other measures, Malami pointed to the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill sent to Parliament in 2016, ongoing development of a register of beneficial owners with help from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Nigeria Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), and increasing application of the Freedom of Information Act.

Moving to Asia, the regency of Bojonegoro in Indonesia, one of 15 pioneers selected to participate in the OGP Subnational Pilot Program, continues to work towards innovations in open government. In an article for Okezone.com, current Bojonegoro Regent Suyoto Ngartep Mustajab, also known as Kang Yoto, described the value of extending the OGP model to the local level:

 

There are about 15 program priorities established by the central government, but not all of the programs meet the needs of our community. So we slightly changed the financial management approach based on the problems we face in Bojonegoro.

 

Finally, just a few months after joining OGP at the 2016 OGP Global Summit, Innovation.mfg.de reported that Germany is hard at work developing its first National Action Plan (NAP). Among the country’s opengov priorities is open data. As stated in the article, the government is already attempting to add an open data article to its e-government law. But are new laws enough to ensure transformative change? German open data experts cited in the article argued that the country must also establish an open data culture. Luckily, they offer their recommendations (in German) for doing so here!

Last but not least, are you feeling nostalgic for the days of 2016? Why not delve into the recent past by revisiting a momentous year of growth and reflection for OGP in our 2016 Annual Report?!

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 jacqueline.mcgraw@opengovpartnership.org.