The Mexican Government, the Secretariat General of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Development Bank (TBC), and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) hosted a discussion in Mexico City this week on the progress, challenges, and opportunities around transparency, accountability, and citizen participation as elements of an open government.
We were there to help moderate a panel of government representatives from Latin American countries that will be presenting their OGP Action Plans in April in Brasilia for the first time.
Here are some of our major takeaways from the meeting:
- The rhetoric of open government in Latin America is highly focused on ‘anti-corruption’ as an end goal. Although this makes sense, drawing the link from transparency to improved public service delivery (as opposed to, or at least in addition to anti-corruption) may be one way to promote the open government agenda in an impactful way.
- Smaller countries seem to struggle with the issue of Trust in their civil society organizations. The assumption based on past experience is that civil society is politicized and often critical of the government because they are aligned with the opposition party. The question is how can these countries use OGP as a tool to promote two-way, depoliticized citizen engagement?
- Dialogue/consultation/collaboration between governments and civil society must be permanent, ongoing and consistent. The OGP Action Plans are living documents and should be adjusted as priorities change over time.
- There is a general consensus that ‘open government’ (as opposed to earlier lines of discourse) is a strong platform for good governance because it is flexible.
- Strong models of fiscal transparency: 1) Public Spending Observatories in Brazil. 2) Citizen Budgets in Mexico – in particular, their use and online display of performance indicators.
— Nicole Anand
— Image: Nicole Anand