OGP in the News: 29 April 2016

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

This week the theme of budget and funding disclosure continued to be a major focus of press on open governance, and the most significant news items related to OGP were a pair of thoughtful opinion pieces published in the Huffington Post and the U.S. News & World Report.

In the Huffington Post piece, authors David Bloomgarden and Georg Neumann reflect on the benefits of open contracting for successful public-private partnerships and reference “Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto [announcement] at last year’s Open Government Partnership meeting in Mexico City that the country will use open contracting in building its newest airport.”

And in the U.S. News & World Report piece, following our reporting last week on the ongoing headline-grabbing news out of Brazil, Vivek Ramkumar offers a unique and considered recasting of the corruption scandal in the country. While the majority of the press coverage of the events has energetically focused on political implications, Ramkumar’s article frames the current situation as something of a coup for the country’s long-standing fiscal transparency efforts. In this connection, he states:

Brazil is a founding member of the Open Government Partnership – a global multistakeholder initiative for open and accountable governance – and has championed fiscal transparency globally, including through a resolution adopted by the United Nations. Brazilian civil society organizations are widely respected for their deep roots in society and for nurturing social movements on a host of progressive human rights and social issues.

Why is it that all of these important advances did not help prevent the current crisis?

First, corruption and mismanagement of public funds is rife in the country despite Brazil's widely publicized efforts at fostering greater fiscal transparency.... In fact, Brazil's high levels of fiscal transparency of the recent years were a major reason why a local civil society organization was able to go deep on the analysis of the Treasury's accounting and identify the country's true fiscal position. While fiscal transparency can help shine the light on the questionable use of public funds, it cannot by itself eradicate the problem.

Just eastward of Brazil, Africa’s 2016 OGP Regional Meeting in Cape Town is set to kick off next Thursday, and there seemed to be heightened attention on issues of open government around the continent. A press release on the event itself from the host nation, for example, was featured in the influential AllAfrica.com. And in a piece published this week by the World Bank, Kenyan Robert Hunja speaks with optimism on Africa’s prospects for changing “the legacy of opaqueness, fraud and lack of effectiveness in public contracting” in many of its countries, and he cites the Regional Meeting as opportunity to continue discussing reform.

And in Ghana, an article on GhanaWeb reported a recent meeting in the country concerning the increasingly conspicuous topic of beneficial ownership. The piece noted that the “revelations from the Panama Papers provided a timely and important backdrop for this meeting of politicians, company executives, government officials and civil society representatives,” which was convened by the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative and the Ministry of Finance, and “supported by [the Natural Resource Governance Institute] and Ghana Open Government Partnership.”

News of promising deliberations also came out of Sri Lanka, where the process of the country joining OGP is advancing on sound footing. The Daily Financial Times and the Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka both did stories on a gathering earlier in this month in which senior government officials and leaders from civil society came together to consult about and launch the country’s association with OGP.

And the online newspaper ColomboPage reported on comments of praise made by U.S. diplomat Samantha Power for Sri Lankan President Maithripala. In her remarks, she stated: “Sri Lanka is in the midst of joining the Open Government Partnership, which will help it put in place some of the best practices that have been learned around the world in improving transparency, enhancing democratic accountability, and, critically, fighting corruption.”

And last but not least, from the world of social media, just when you thought that OGP couldn’t possibly be any more fun… Twitter presents us with more!

Authors: Alex Vedovi
Filed Under: OGP News