Mexico faces urgent problems (e.g., poverty relief, rampant corruption and impunity, systematic human rights violations, inequality, environmental concerns, and low competitiveness). In this context, the country has launched a series of initiatives and implemented actions intended to “open the government.” This raises the question of how effective these efforts have been; that is, the extent to which changes have been put into practice beyond intent and rhetoric.
The aim of this case study is to examine Mexico’s open government journey between 2011 and 2015. We focus on the adoption and implementation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), whether and how stakeholders learned to leverage OGP inputs to advance their agendas, and how, in doing so, they altered the characteristics of an incipient open government agenda.
We study the (process of) institutionalization of the open government agenda via OGP at the country level. In addition, because the adoption and completion of OGP commitments has been far from homogenous, we analyze sectorial differences in the adoption and implementation of OGP commitments to gain further insight and reveal potential lessons for policy-making.
Our research was conducted in Mexico City between July and October 2015. Five key findings result from our investigations.
- Mexican OGP became a start-up platform, which gives specific civil society organizations (CSOs) a voice and opportunity to incorporate some of their priorities into federal policy;
- The model of joint decision-making allowed CSOs and government to collaborate in a way that had not been possible before; yet, OGP did not reduced antagonism or mistrust among partners. OGP in Mexico has had limited impact on broader institutional reform and the involvement of civil society at large (i.e., beyond a limited number of CSOs) in federal policymaking;
- Although OGP “joint decision-making” procedures improved coordination and the quality of commitments (e.g. first versus second Action Plan) they also forced government and CSOs to limit the scope and ambition of demands. In particular, the two-year cycles set a strong restriction for broader reform;
- Not all commitments or sectors are made the same: some were more prone to open governance and agreement, while others were not. Low profile technical commitments were advanced most successfully; and
- Evidence shows that variation across sectors helps explain the feasibility of ii studied open government commitments.