The Path to Openness: AGESIC
Since the creation of AGESIC, we have understood that democracy involves structures that change and should adapt – though no longer according to the schemes of projects or isolated policies, but to the evolution which is determined by the demands of citizens.
In our agency, our mission is to lead an implementation strategy for Digital Government with a public administration centered on citizens. We aim to change the relationship between citizens and the State based on the possibilities that information technologies open to us. In this regard, new technologies are for us not ends in themselves, but rather tools that allow us to achieve truly meaningful changes in people’s lives.
We understand that in order to do this we must discover a form of government with inclusive policies which foster participation, equity and capacity development – always with an eye toward improving the quality of life of all people in our country.
In our work, citizens are not a passive receiver of government measures, but rather builders of democracy, self-assured actors in the decisions of the State. A government should be open by default and it should establish clear lines of action and goals which to make this a natural thing.
Before the formation of the Open Government Partnership, in Uruguay we had already begun to put the principles of transparency, accountability and collaboration into practice. This was through policies designed to reduce breaches, foster equity and democratize access to public services.
In this regard, in 2008 Uruguay approved two fundamental laws which guaranteed citizen rights and were the foundation of the openness policies that the country would adopt later: the Personal Information Protection Law and the Access to Public Information Law.
To formalize our commitment to government openness policies, in 2011 we joined the Open Government Partnership. This was to carry forward an integrated strategy which incorporates actors from government, academia and civil society, and which includes: concrete objectives and actions, working groups, public consultations, approved laws, the promotion of open data in the government, and capacity building through datacamps, hackathons and competitions. These actions reflect objectives and goals that form part of a strategy that we not only consider necessary, but fundamental to giving citizens power with regard to government accountability and to making them influential actors in government decisions.
Since the development of the first Action Plan until now, Uruguay has been at the forefront of Open Government in Latin America. It has achieved a good balance between the various lines of action of Open Government and concrete steps taken to consolidate its fundamental precepts.
It is expected with social evolution that a line of continuity be maintained to give a basis to the ideals of every government project, but at the same time, that we remain adaptable to change and are attentive to forms of governance that put citizens at the center – making him or her an important actor in government decisions. By following the path to openness, we will achieve the tangible goal of strengthening the pillars of democracy in our countries.