OGP in the News – Week of August 15, 2016

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

This week, OGP was featured in news items around the globe. The biggest source of coverage  was Mexico, where open government issues made headlines in a variety of outlets.

The main story concerned access to information as a critical means for combating poverty. Appearing in Yahoo News en Español, Terra and other sources, an article entitled “Importance of information highlighted in fight against inequality” described statements by the commissioner of Mexico’s chief transparency agency, ahead of next month’s National Transparency Week. The article reported:

Participating in the third working group for the development of the OGP National Action Plan for 2016-2018, whose theme was “Poverty and Inequality,” [commissioner Joel] Salas Suárez highlighted that vulnerable communities and groups can help fight inequality through information…. Similarly, the director of Citizen Action against Poverty, Rogelio Gómez Hermosillo, stated that information on social programs should come in the form of open data for the use of beneficiaries and the directing public agencies. He added that, with Open Government tools, which include transparency, access to information and accountability, as well as schemes for citizen participation, it is possible to make progress in reducing poverty and closing the inequality gaps.

Mexican outlet Mugs Noticias also discussed the issue of gender equality in the context of OGP. Luces del Siglo was critical of a Mexican governor for not committing his state to an open government plan, as the majority of the states in the country have recently done. Juárez Noticias ran an op-ed on OGP and open government, which it referred to as “a new way of governing for and with the people.” And CIO México published an analysis of the country’s advances in e-government.

Europe also generated important news items related to OGP. In Germany, about twenty sources – including Finanzen.net, wallstreet:online, Presse Portal and Der Tagesspiegel – mentioned OGP while reporting on a ‘Digital Innovation’ conference to be held this December in Stuttgart. And from the United Kingdom, an article on ‘Apps for Democracy’ from The Guardian spoke of new initiatives to proactively engage citizens – particularly young people – in political decision-making through open data.  

In the UK, open data is used mainly for fact-checking and other inputs into the political debate. However, Tim Davies, co-founder of the Open Data Services co-operative, believes open data can play a role in opening up participatory and democratic discourse in new spaces. For example, in the 2016 Open Government Partnership national action plan the UK committed to open up more data on public contracting using the open contracting data standard.

Meanwhile, in Africa, the subject of open data also received media attention in Tanzania. Articles from the country’s The Daily News and The Citizen, which were also featured in AllAfrica.com, reported on the government’s plan to launch a new open data policy “to enhance access government data in the friendliest way,” as just one in a series of good practices adopted since the nation joined OGP in 2011. The Citizen also ran a more critical op-ed – also reproduced in AllAfrica.com – which argued that the government must do more to live up to its commitments on good governance and openness made in international fora like OGP. And in Ghana, following the release of a statement (which was also featured in FreedomInfo.org) calling for a ‘right to information’ bill to be passed by parliament in the next year, PEACE FM reported that “the RTI Coalition” presented a petition to President John Mahama urging him to expedite the process and citing commitments made in the country’s OGP National Action Plans in support of their case.

Finally, in the Pacific region, CIO New Zealand publicized the current call for proposals for the development of the country’s second National Action Plan. The article quoted Martin Rodgers, director of Engaging NZ, who said: "This is your opportunity to influence what government commits to doing over the next two years to be more open." And in nearby Australia, The Mandarin reported on a similar call for applications to join a working group to draft the country’s first National Action Plan – a group that will be composed of six individuals from government and six from civil society.

And last but not least, in case you haven’t had a chance already, now might be a good time to explore the open landscape!

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, we’re happy to take requests! And since this was my last week on the job, these can be sent to our new Communications Intern Jacqueline McGraw at jacqueline.mcgraw@opengovpartnership.org.

 
Authors: Alex Vedovi
Filed Under: OGP News