OGP in the News - Week of April 17, 2017

A series providing a round-up of media attention received by the Open Government Partnership throughout the world. Want to receive OGP in the News directly in your email inbox every Monday morning? Subscribe here.

What does openness look like in an increasingly digital world? And what are people saying about the White House visitor logs? This week’s top OGP stories explore both these questions, OGP commitments in Argentina and the Philippines, and more!

Challenging the 17th century state-centered worldview born out of the historic Peace of Westphalia, well-known foreign policy analyst Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote a piece for Foreign Affairs in which she describes today’s international order as one that looks less like a “chessboard,” whose boundaries are neatly defined by sovereign states, and more like a “web” of inter(net)connected communities. Citing OGP, Slaughter observes a growing cultural shift away from traditional notions of representative democracy toward greater international partnership: “Nations willing to join the Open Government Partnership are embracing values and developing structures that will allow them to knit their societies and economies closely together.” Furthermore, she suggests that a strategy geared toward openness and cooperation is ultimately the recipe for success in the modern world:

Open societies, open governments, and an open international system are risky propositions. But they are humankind’s best hope for harnessing the power not only of states but also of businesses, universities, civic organizations, and citizens to address the planetary problems that now touch us all.

Among staunch transparency advocates, meanwhile, the Trump administration’s decision to discontinue the the Obama-era legacy of publishing the White House visitor logs has been met with outrage and protest. Deputy Director of the Sunlight Foundation, Alex Howard, authored a blog berating this choice of “secrecy over sunshine.” And yet, in a piece for The Atlantic, author and senior political fellow at New America, Lee Drutman, argues the decision was neither surprising nor crisis-worthy, pointing out that “publicly available visitor logs don’t give the full picture of who’s influencing the president.” Drutman goes on to highlight the contrasts between Trump and his predecessor in regards to transparency. He notes that while former President Barack Obama “won praise” by supporting open government initiatives like OGP, “Trump has made a bet that voters ultimately don’t care about transparency and openness in government.”

Elsewhere in the Americas, a series of roundtable discussions took place throughout the Santa Fe Province of Argentina to crowdsource commitment ideas from members of government, civil society and academia as the country drafts its third OGP National Action Plan (NAP). In an article for Unosantafe.com.ar, the province’s undersecretary of public innovation, Diego Gismondi, explained that while OGP generally works with national governments, the process was opened up to Argentina’s municipal governments to create open government reforms whose impact will also be felt at the local level: “The idea is to identify goals that society, together with local authorities and citizens, think are appropriate for an open government in the places they inhabit.”

The Philippine Information Agency announced that the national government, in keeping with commitments made in its 2015-2017 OGP NAP, provided financial assistance in the sum of P8.15-billion to 547 disadvantaged municipalities. Granted in recognition of the municipalities’ Good Financial Housekeeping (GFH) by the Department of the Interior and of Local Government (DILG), the funding covers wide range of projects, from water systems and evacuation facilities to local access roads. Civil society organizations in each of the municipalities are encouraged to monitor and provide feedback on the projects, the details of which can be found on the DILG website.

Financial responsibility was also a topic of discussion in Nigeria, where commitments in the country’s first OGP NAP are attempting to “[mainstream] transparency into the management of public funds across all sectors including private sector and civil society.” In a BusinessDay article, Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami expressed optimism about the recently implemented Whisteblower policy in achieving these ends. Next on the anti-corruption and transparency agenda is a beneficial ownership register, which the Ministry of Justice is reportedly working to establish “as soon as possible.”

Last but not least, OGP held two “meet and greet” webinars on April 13 and 18 to introduce the shortlisted civil society candidates vying for a spot on the OGP Steering Committee. Were you walking your dog at the exact moment the webinars aired? Luckily, modern technology has made it so can still get to know these #opengov visionaries by watching them here...and here!

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.

 

Filed Under: OGP News