Chapter 7. Moving towards an open state in Argentina

This chapter discusses the growing collaboration between branches of power and levels of government in Argentina around the promotion of open government principles. It finds that open government initiatives have started to flourish across the entire Argentinian state and identifies a number of good practices from provinces that could inspire other countries. It discusses the key role of COFEMOD, includes case studies that embody the concepts of an open parliament and open justice, and explores the role of ombudsman institutions in fostering the move towards an open state. Recommendations focus – inter alia – on how a National Open Government Strategy and a National Open Government Steering Committee could complement and strengthen work being done by the branches of power and subnational governments.

    

Introduction

Countries around the world are moving progressively from the open government concept towards that of an open state.

For many years, the global open government movement has focused mainly on strategies and initiatives developed and implemented by the executive branch of the state (OECD, 2018; 2016a). These days, however, countries across the world have started to acknowledge that open government initiatives should not be pursued by the executive branch in isolation. Citizens expect the same level of transparency, accountability and integrity from all branches of the state and levels of government.

In order to meet this expectation, an increasing number of governments have started engaging with actors outside the executive branch through Open Government Partnership (OGP) processes, building commitments that involve multiple institutions from different levels of government or branches of power. Furthermore, some countries have designed independent “open judiciary”, “open parliament” and “open sub-national government” strategies and related initiatives (OECD, 2016a).

Latin American countries have been particularly active in this regard. According to the results of the OECD Survey on Open Government and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle (2015), almost 70% of countries from Latin America and the Caribbean are already pursuing open parliament initiatives and 60% are implementing open government initiatives at the subnational level.

In 2015-16, the OECD conducted an Open Government Review of Costa Rica (OECD, 2016b). Entitled “Towards an Open State”, the Review found that Costa Rica has become one of the first countries in the world to promote the open government principles of transparency, integrity, accountability and citizen participation across all branches of the state. In 2016, the President of the Republic of Costa Rica and the presidents of the other branches signed the first-ever Declaration for the Creation of an Open State. Other LAC countries have also been quite active: Colombia, for instance, has signed an Open State Declaration and is the first country worldwide to elaborate an Open State Policy.

The OECD developed the “open state” concept in 2015 and has been actively supporting countries in their open state agendas ever since. Reflecting this trend, the OECD Recommendation (OECD, 2017) advises countries to move progressively from the concept of open government towards that of an open state. In the Recommendation an open state is defined as the moment:

“When all public institutions of the executive, parliament and the judiciary, independent public institutions, and all levels of government join forces and collaborate with civil society, academia, the media and the private sector to design and implement a reform agenda to make public governance more transparent, accountable and participatory.”

This first-ever global definition of an open state is reflected in the OECD Open State Approach (Figure 7.1).

Figure ‎7.1. The OECD Open State Approach
Figure ‎7.1. The OECD Open State Approach

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

In their efforts to create an open state, branches of power and levels of government can collaborate in different ways.

While it is clear that the different branches of the state are and should be independent from each other, in an open state approach an entire society jointly develops a common understanding of and commitment to more openness. While each actor can and should independently implement its agenda to promote open government principles, it is only by joining forces and through collaboration that an open state approach can develop its full potential. An integrated open state approach, hence, includes collaboration in different dimensions:

  • horizontally between branches of power and independent public institutions (e.g. between the judiciary and the parliament)

  • vertically between levels of government (e.g. between the national government and provinces)

  • internally between institutions that are part of the same branch of government (e.g. all line ministries, and the different chambers of the legislature).

However, collaboration across branches of power and levels of government can be challenging. Stumbling blocks may include:

  • Different administrative cultures within the branches of power and within different levels of government may impede the use of similar terminologies, methodologies and approaches (OECD, 2016a).

  • There may be a lack of tradition to co-ordinate and collaborate between the different branches of power, which are used to interacting under a setting of “checks and balances”.

  • The lack of a supporting legal or administrative framework might represent a feeling of insecurity in such co-operative endeavours.

Despite existing obstacles, different branches and levels of government can interact in several ways. These range from mutual recognition – in which the different institutions recognise each other’s efforts and push their own agendas, to a joined strategy, in which decisions are shared and initiatives are made in constant synergy (Figure 7.2).

Figure ‎7.2. Stages of collaboration of an open state approach
Figure ‎7.2. Stages of collaboration of an open state approach

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

The creation of an open state in a federal country such as Argentina.

In accordance with Argentina’s National Constitution (Argentine Republic, 1994), the provinces retain all powers that they have not delegated to the national government. For instance, in regard to the application of national laws and regulations, norms dictated by the National Congress (e.g. the national Access to Information Law, see Chapter 3 on the Legal Framework) can invite provinces to voluntarily adhere through their local legislative powers. Provinces can also choose to dictate their own norm.

While the limitations of interference between branches of power are clear, both constitutionally and legally, there are no rules in Argentina that prohibit co-operation, collaboration or co-ordination between the various branches of power and the different levels of government. On the contrary, co-operation and co-ordination (such as Federal Agreements in Argentina, as discussed below) are the mechanisms to which a federal state can resort when it aims to promote national public policies across levels of government and branches of the state.

In order to be able assess the environment surrounding the open state at national level in Argentina and to identify existing good practices of collaboration, the OECD sent out a questionnaire to all Argentinian provinces, the different branches of power and to independent public institutions (see Chapter 1 on the Context). The questionnaire asked for information about each actor’s independent strategies and initiatives to foster open government principles as well as their disposition to co-ordinate and collaborate between branches of power and levels of government.

This chapter assesses Argentina against provision 10 of the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Open Government. It first analyses horizontal co-ordination between branches of power and independent state institutions at national level. It then looks at the vertical co-ordination of open government initiatives between the national government and provinces. It concludes with an assessment of the vertical relationship between the national government and municipalities. Finally, the chapter provides recommendations to create a joint commitment by all actors with a view to moving towards an open state and converting the principles of open government into the guiding principles of the entire country.

Box ‎7.1. Provision 10 of the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Open Government

“Promote a progressive move from the concept of open government toward that of open state, while recognising the respective roles, prerogatives and overall independence of all concerned parties.”

OECD (2017), Recommendation of the Council on Open Government, OECD, Paris, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0438 (accessed 30 November 2018).

Enhancing co-ordination and collaboration in the promotion of open government principles at national level

The enabling environment for an open state at national level in Argentina has become more solid.

In recent years, all branches of power and independent public institutions in Argentina have started elaborating and implementing open government initiatives. Those that responded to the OECD Survey (2018) indicated that they had a definition of open government in place and all have either an office or a person in charge of their open government agendas.

According to the results of the Survey, all branches of power and independent public institutions also have their own Open Government Strategy. It should be noted, though, that most actors when answering this question were referring to their commitments within the framework of the third National OGP Action Plan or different scattered initiatives that they are in the process of implementing (rather than an actual Strategy). However, despite the lack of comprehensive strategies, the different institutions implement a wide variety of initiatives to foster open government principles (Figure 7.3). All of them, for instance, work on initiatives to implement the Access to Information Law and to foster digital government. Most of them also implement open data initiatives.

Figure ‎7.3. Open government initiatives that institutions implement or have implemented over the last two years
Figure ‎7.3. Open government initiatives that institutions implement or have implemented over the last two years

Note: There were no limits to the number of existing initiatives that institutions could identify.

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

The main objective that institutions pursue through the implementation of open government initiatives is “improving the transparency of the institution” (71% indicated this as their most important priority), followed by “improving the capacity of the institution to respond to the needs of citizens and businesses” (indicated by the remaining 29%) (Table 7.1). Interestingly, no institution indicated “generate economic growth”.

Survey results also show that institutions face different challenges in the implementation of their open government agendas. The Auditor General saw the lack of mechanisms to co-operate with the other branches of power as its main challenge, while the Chamber of Deputies identified this as its second most important challenge, and indicated “lack of trust of citizens in the institution” as its most important challenge. The Ombudsman saw “lack of financial resources” as particularly challenging, while the Procuraduría highlighted the “lack of incentives for public servants to promote open government principles”. The Council of Magistrates and the Senate noted in their responses that they did not face any particular challenges. The wide range of challenges points to the existence of different institutional realities across branches. Policy dialogue and exchanges of ideas between institutions could help them address some of these challenges.

Table ‎7.1. Improving transparency is the main objectives cited by most institutions in the implementation of open government initiatives

 

Improve the transparency of the institution

Improve the responsibility of the institution

Improve the effectiveness of the institution

Improve the efficiency of the institutions

Improve the institution’s capacity to respond to citizens’ and businesses’ needs

Improve citizen participation in policy formulation

Prevent and fight corruption

Increase citizens’ trust in the institution

Generate economic growth

Auditor General (Independent Public Institution)

1

-

-

-

-

3

-

2

-

Chamber of Deputies (Legislature)

1

-

-

2

-

3

-

-

-

Council of Magistrates (Judiciary)

1

-

-

-

-

-

2

3

-

Ombudsman (Independent Public Institutions)

3

-

2

-

1

-

-

-

-

Penitentiary Attorney

-

-

-

2

1

3

-

-

-

Senate (Legislature)

1

-

-

-

2

-

-

3

-

Supreme Court of the Nation (Judiciary)

1

3

-

-

-

-

-

2

-

Note: Institutions were asked the following question: “What are the main objectives that you pursue in the implementation of initiatives to promote the principles of open government? Please rank the three most important ones in order of priority (with “1” being the most important priority). In the table, “1” indicates the most important objective. The Council of Magistrates did not indicate a weight for the different objectives.

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

The involvement of institutions in the OGP process has raised the profile of their work on open government principles.

In a significant number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the OGP process has been a catalyst for the executive branch to engage with the other branches of power, independent state institutions and local levels of government. Countries have started involving a wide variety of actors in the design of their OGP Action Plans – though it should be noted that most of them did so only in the second or third Action Plan cycles. Others have designed commitments that promote collaboration between different branches and levels of government. Some have even included independent commitments made by other state actors/branches in their OGP Action Plans. Interesting examples of holistic approaches to open government that involve all branches of power and different levels of government can be found across Latin America (Box 7.2).

Box ‎7.2. Towards an open state in OGP Action Plans in Latin America

Evidence gathered by the OECD suggests that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are among the most active worldwide in involving their parliaments, judiciaries and subnational governments in the design of their OGP Action Plan. Interesting examples of OGP Action Plan commitments with an open state vision can be found in different countries (this list is of course not exhaustive):

  • Costa Rica’s second OGP Action Plan includes specific commitments that include collaborative actions between the government and other branches of government, including support for the dissemination and implementation of the recommendations of the Transparency Index of the Ombudsman’s Office, and the government’s collaboration in the dissemination of the Citizen Participation Policy of the judiciary. The country’s third Action Plan (2017-2019) includes commitments assumed by all branches of powers, in alignment with the country’s Open State Agreement, signed on 21 March 2017.

  • Guatemala’s third National Action Plan (2016-2018) includes public institutions of the executive body, the Congress of the Republic, the Comptroller General of Accounts, the University of San Carlos of Guatemala, the Superintendency of Tax Administration and organisations of civil society, among others.

  • The third OGP Action Plan of Paraguay includes, for the first time, goals of entities outside the executive branch, such as the Comptroller General of the Republic.

Source: Government of Paraguay (2016), Plan de Acción 2016-2018 [Action Plan 2016-2018], Open Government Partnership, www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Paraguay_NAP_3_0.pdf.

As mentioned in Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework, the OGP process has also been an important platform to foster co-ordination between the branches of power and levels of government in Argentina. While participation in the country’s first two National Action Plans (NAPs) was limited mostly to the national executive branch (with the exception of one commitment made by the University of Buenos Aires), it is to the credit of the Undersecretariat for Open Government and Public Innovation (UOG) in the then Ministry of Modernisation (MoM) that institutions from all branches of power, and a significant number of independent public institutions and provinces joined the process for the third NAP. In fact, the third NAP includes a number of commitments made by actors outside of the executive branch (Table 7.2).

According to the Survey results, all institutions except for the Supreme Court (which did not participate in the OGP process) found the OGP process useful. The fact that the process allowed them to promote and raise awareness about open government principles within their own institutions was of particular value (Figure 7.4). The participants also appreciated the possibility to make connections and exchange experiences with actors with whom they would not usually interact and that it gave them the opportunity to promote their work across the entire state.

Table ‎7.2. Open state commitments at national level in Argentina’s third OGP Action Plan

Commitment

Lead institution(s)

Other state actors involved

Transparency of information in judge selection processes

National Judicial Council (Judiciary)

Second stage of “datos.jus.gov.ar” portal

Open Justice Programme, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights

Subnational Judiciary, Subnational Public Prosecutor’s Offices, National Judicial Council, Judicial Council for the City of Buenos Aires.

Transparency of data in the Argentine National Congress

Argentine Chamber of Deputies and Argentine Senate

Innovation laboratory for the enforcement of rights and external control authorities

Procuración Penitenciaria de la Nación and Defensoría del Pueblo de la Nación

Proactive publication of reports and audits of the General Comptroller’s Office

General Comptroller’s Office

Note: Provincial commitments in the third NAP are listed further below.

Source: Government of Argentina (2017), III Open Government National Plan of the Argentine Republic, Buenos Aires, www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Argentina_Action-Plan_2017-2019_EN.pdf.

The Government Secretariat of Modernisation must now help institutions sustain the momentum for open government over the medium and long term. The process of designing the fourth OGP Action Plan could be an opportunity to reach out to a small number of actors from the national level, including the Supreme Court, that have not yet been involved in the country’s open government agenda. According to information received from the government, the fourth NAP will, however, include a significantly lower number of commitments (the current plan has 44 commitments, see Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework). It might therefore be advisable to limit participation outside the executive branch to actors that have not already been involved and to continue engaging with actors that have already participated through other means, as discussed further below.

Figure ‎7.4. The usefulness of institutions’ involvement in the OGP process
Figure ‎7.4. The usefulness of institutions’ involvement in the OGP process

Note: This question was only asked to institutions which indicated that they had participated in the OGP process.

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

Regular open state meetings and the creation of Contact Points may benefit the open state agenda.

According to the results of the OECD Survey, all branches of power and independent public institutions have a general predisposition to collaborate and co-ordinate open government strategies and initiatives. All the institutions that participated in the OECD Survey, except for the Supreme Court, reported that they had collaborated with the then Ministry of Modernisation. All institutions, for instance, received orientation/guidance from the then MoM and most have participated in the Ministry’s capacity-building events and exchanged good practices. Survey results and interviews conducted during the fact-finding mission also confirmed that institutions would happily receive additional capacity-building support.

Currently, exchange between branches of power often relies on the informal networks created through the involvement of actors in the OGP process. Only a small number of formal spaces exist in which the branches co-ordinate their policies in the field of open government, such as the Roundtable on Access to Information (see Chapter 3 on the Legal Framework). As anticipated in Chapter 4 on Implementation, in order to create a space that allows for more permanent exchange of good practices and experiences between all branches of power, Argentina could consider organising regular open state meetings within the framework of the National Open Government Steering Committee (CNGA). These meetings would provide an opportunity to harmonise approaches and ensure a more fluid and institutionalised exchange of good practices and experiences.

The SGM could chair and convene these open state meetings. Invited representatives could include the Supreme Court of Justice and the Council of Magistrates, as well as both chambers of the legislative branch and representatives from independent public institutions such as the Ombudsman, the Comptroller and the National Penitentiary Procurator. As discussed further below, the participation of provinces could be managed through the Open Government Commission of the Federal Council for Modernisation and Innovation in Public Management. In order to give the necessary impetus to the open state agenda, Argentina could consider inviting institutions at the highest level. Costa Rica’s open state meetings provide an interesting example that Argentina could consider following (Box 7.3).

Box ‎7.3. Costa Rica’s National Open Government Commission moving towards an open state composition

The National Open Government Commission is Costa Rica’s multi-stakeholder forum with responsibility for following up on the commitments made by the country in the OGP Action Plan and leading the broader open government agenda. The Commission is composed of members of the executive branch (Ministries of Communication, Finance, Science, Technology and Telecommunications and Planning), civil society (ACCESA Foundation and Costa Rica Integra), academia (National Commission of Rectors) and representatives from the private sector (Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector). Ordinary sessions are held once a month, with the possibility of convening an extraordinary session when convenient. Since August 2015 there have been 39 sessions of the Commission.

In 2017, all branches of power signed a Framework Agreement (2017) to promote an open state in Costa Rica. A series of specific actions were then initiated to incorporate other powers into discussions, so as to ensure that the principles of open government were applied to all public institutions of the Costa Rican state. For instance, the National Commission has modified its founding decree to create the National Open State Commission, which will involve representatives of all branches and local governments. This decree is expected to be enacted in February 2019.

In the intervening time, representatives of the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and the Municipal Promotion and Advisory Institute have been invited as non-voting members with a voice to participate in all sessions of the National Open Government Commission.

Source: Author’s own elaboration based on information provided by the Government of Costa Rica.

In order to facilitate the sharing of practices and experiences, those in charge of the open government agendas of all branches of power and interested independent public institutions could also become part of the Network of Open Government Contact Points, which could be initiated and animated by the SGM, as proposed in Chapter 4 on Implementation. Open Government Contact Points from all branches could then be invited to participate in specific sub-commissions of the CNGA. The inclusion of all branches of power and independent public institutions would foster a diversity of approach and enrich the exchange of experiences.

Argentina would benefit from designing a National Open Government Strategy.

Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework recommends the design and implementation of a National Open Government Strategy. In the event that the government decides to move towards such a strategic whole-of-government framework for open government, it could consider involving all branches of power and independent public institutions in its development, in order to ensure that it reflects a shared vision and a common understanding of what open government entails (and does not entail).

In this context, an Open Government Strategy can become an important catalyst for a truly holistic open state approach. Although different levels of government and different branches of power may of course continue/start implementing their own independent strategies for open justice and open parliament, and so on, as discussed in detail in section 2.5, a National Open Government Strategy can open the floor for joint efforts or parallel but coherent actions that contribute to a common vision and shared objectives. The Strategy could also be designed in a flexible way to allow the other branches of power and independent public institutions to adhere to it (or parts of it) through high-level declarations or agreements.

As a first step of cross-branch collaboration, Argentina could elaborate an Open State Declaration, following the examples of Costa Rica and Colombia (see Box 7.4). Given the upcoming presidential elections in Argentina in 2019, a joint Declaration could be an initial step towards deeper collaboration which could then be pursued by the next government. Another interesting examples is provided by Paraguay, where civil society organisations asked presidential candidates to sign a Declaration of Commitment to move towards enhanced openness prior to the 2018 elections.

Box ‎7.4. Costa Rica’s Open State Declaration

On 25 November 2015, the President of the Republic of Costa Rica and the presidents of the three powers of the Republic of Costa Rica (the executive, the legislative Assembly and the Supreme Court) and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal signed a joint declaration committing Costa Rica to moving towards an open state. The declaration states that each branch will elaborate a plan consisting of priority actions to “promote a policy of openness, transparency, accountability, participation and innovation in favour of the citizens”, which will be included in institutional strategic plans and evaluated annually. The powers also agreed to strengthen and develop existing mechanisms of citizen participation to contribute to a closer relationship between civil society and the government, and to provide access to public information through the use of new technologies.

Costa Rica was the first country in the world to sign such a declaration bringing together all the powers of the state. The declaration has significant potential to guide the country’s future open state agenda, but needs to build on its accumulated goodwill with concrete actions. These will include involving sub-national and local governments, decentralised public institutions, independent state institutions, the business sector, media, academia and civil society to join forces to build an open state in Costa Rica.

Source: OECD (2016a), Open Government: The Global Context and the Way Forward, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264268104-en.

Case study: Open Justice in Argentina

The Council of Magistrates has become an active promoter of Open Justice in Argentina.

Open justice in its broadest sense, refers to “the extension of the philosophy and principles of open government to the field of justice and therefore adapted to the characteristic contextual framework of justice, using innovation and the benefits of information and communication technologies as everyday tools” (Jiménez, 2014). Open judiciary has become the modern answer to bringing citizens closer to the judicial system, an area where traditionally there has been a gap between citizens and day-to-day justice practitioners (OECD, 2016). In order to take advantage of open government principles, a number of countries around the world such as Costa Rica have started designing ambitious open justice strategies (Box 7.5).

Box ‎7.5. Open Justice in Costa Rica

In terms of openness and participation, Costa Rica’s judiciary is one of the most advanced worldwide. It is among the first judicial branches to create its own open judiciary and citizen participation strategy. The judiciary is further involved in the country’s Open Government Partnership process and the presidents of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal have signed Costa Rica’s Declaration for the Establishment of an Open State. The Costa Rican judiciary has also started including open government principles in its daily activities. In so doing, it has the following stated objectives:

  • to bring the judiciary closer to citizens through the use of electronic services

  • to promote the exchange of digital information among different institutions to avoid unnecessary procedures and/or simplify procedures for citizens

  • to make justice accessible for the most vulnerable

  • to encourage transparency in managing justice

  • to publish open data through public portals

  • to save the economic resources of citizens and the judicial branch.

The Costa Rican judiciary is also one of the only judicial branches in the world to have designed its own citizen participation policy – the Policy for Citizen Participation in Judicial Power (Política de Participación Ciudadana en el Poder Judicial). The judiciary defines citizen participation as “a democratic process which guarantees responsible, active and sustainable contribution of citizens in the design, decision making and implementation of the policies of the judiciary, in a way that responds to the realities of the population, the common good and compliance with the aims of the judiciary”.

Source: OECD (2016b), Open Government in Costa Rica, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264265424-en.

In Argentina, the Council of Magistrates (Consejo de la Magistratura) is the organ of the judicial branch in charge of appointing judges, presenting charges against them, and making decision regarding their suspension or deposition. The Council has become an active player in promoting a more open, transparent and accountable judicial branch. It has an office responsible for the promotion of open government principles (Unidad de Consejo Abierto y Participación Ciudadana) and has elaborated its own progressive definition of Open Justice:

“Open Justice is an emerging paradigm of public management that corresponds to a model of democracy which aspires to the construction of a system of administration of justice that is more accessible, receptive and inclusive of citizens. This innovative concept of justice encompasses the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration mentioned above”.

The Council of Magistrates is currently pursuing the following initiatives of relevance to open government principles:

  • consolidating the implementation of the Law on Access to Public Information

  • strengthening the filing system for sworn statements of Magistrates and Officials

  • participating in the third OGP Action Plan

  • designing and developing a website on transparency and citizen participation

  • renovating and redesigning the official institutional website of the Judiciary

  • publishing the results of corruption audits.

The Council is also actively reaching out to other key actors that form part of the open government ecosystem in Argentina. For instance, it has concluded a Framework and Specific Co-operation Agreement with the Council of Magistrates of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires to regulate topics of common interest in matters of open government, access to information, open data and access to justice, and collaborated in the co-ordination of joint activities. Colombia provides another interesting example of how the OGP process may be used to foster trust between institutions from the judicial and executive branches (Box 7.6).

Box ‎7.6. Promoting open justice in Colombia

In 2015, Colombia presented its Second OGP Action Plan for the period of 2015-17. Goal 16 of the plan introduced a novel commitment, pledging Colombia to ensure “transparency and accountability in the Council of State for better justice service”.

Together with the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, the Council of State (Consejo del Estado) is one of the most powerful legislative organs in Colombia. Consequently, its actions are sufficiently powerful to produce effects that spill over to other institutions in the country. Through the Action Plan the Council created the Commission of Transparency and Accountability, the purpose of which is “to provide better justice service to the internal and external users through a management of quality in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and transparency”.

This ambitious aim is accompanied by concrete approaches including publishing rulings and making the choice of judicial candidates available to the public to address accusations of partisanship. The Council also aims to implement the Interamerican Code of Judicial Ethics and to draft and publish a document entitled “Accountability of the Judicial Branch”. In summary, the multifaceted commitments of the Council of State constitute an example of concrete initiatives to enforce transparency and accountability, which will contribute to building citizens’ trust in the legitimacy of the state’s judicial branch.

Source: OGP (2015b), Colombia’s 2015-2016 OGP Action Plan, Open Government Partnership, www.opengovpartnership.org/country/colombia/action-plan.

These initiatives are noteworthy and should be pursued. A truly holistic approach to an open state would also involve the judicial branches at the provincial level more actively in the open justice agenda. The initiatives undertaken by tribunals 10 and 13 of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires provide interesting examples on which Argentina could build (Box 7.7).

Box ‎7.7. Open Government initiatives of the Tribunals 10 and 13 of the City of Buenos Aires

The tribunals (Juzgados) number 10 and 13 of the City of Buenos Aires are implementing a series of open government initiatives that aim to restore trust in the justice system and its institutions.

Tribunal number 10

Tribunal 10 has established a working group that aims to use new technologies, create a culture of open data, and promote a higher degree of engagement with citizens. The main initiatives carried out by the working group include:

  • The creation of a Twitter Account of the tribunal which publishes information on the activities of the institution (e.g. agenda of audiences), and introduces staff (i.e. photos, CVs and biographies).

  • An online archive that contains all resolutions and sentences of the tribunal in an editable and open format has been created. The archive also includes statistics on the number, type and duration of audiences held.

  • More than 90% of the records and dossiers of the tribunal have been digitalised.

  • The tribunal uses videoconferences for certain types of audiences, for instance, when there is a disabled person involved. This system presents advantages when connecting with prisons, as it reduces the costs and security risks linked to the displacement of prisoners.

  • The tribunal is making efforts to use clear language that is more accessible to citizens and other stakeholders. In this regard, it led a process to co-create with citizens a new version of the text used for notifications.

Tribunal number 13

Tribunal 13 has been carrying out initiatives focused on the following three elements:

  • Clear and accessible language: the tribunal has developed a manual (Manual de Lenguaje Claro) that contains guidelines for its officials to standardise the way in which they write their texts, in order to make them more accessible to stakeholders that have no legal background. The tribunal has also invited citizens to take part in these initiatives via innovative methods; for instance, legal texts are published online and citizens are invited to make corrections and suggestions of style that could eventually be incorporated into the manual. Finally, the tribunal is developing videos that are published in social media channels in order to explain, for instance, the meaning of legal terms, procedures, or the functioning of the justice system as a whole.

  • Open data and accountability: the tribunal digitalises its resolutions and publishes them online. The tribunal has also created its own Twitter account that includes the following information:

    • Agenda: weekly schedules of audiences.

    • Holidays: who is the acting judge and during what period.

    • Biographies: background and CVs of the officials working in the tribunal.

    • Statistics: total number of audiences held in the tribunal, number of resolutions dictated by type and subject matter, etc.

  • Innovation and use of new technologies: the tribunal is making use of new technologies by, for instance, notifying electronically the parties involved (e.g. the accused receives the notification to appear at trial via Whatsapp) or holding audiences via videoconference.

Source: Interviews held with officials from tribunals and 13 of the City of Buenos Aires and https://guiajudicial.jusbaires.gob.ar/.

The Ministry of Justice is promoting openness in the judicial branch through the Justicia 2020 initiative.

Argentina’s national Ministry of Justice and Human Rights also promotes the adoption of open justice initiatives in the judicial branch. One of these initiatives is Justicia 2020 which was launched in 2016 through a state policy. The goals of Justicia 2020 are linked to open government principles, as the programme aims to create a justice system that is closer to people’s needs and is more transparent. As part of Justicia 2020, the Ministry has also established its own Justicia Abierta initiative, which aims to implement “open government policies in the justice system to improve transparency and citizen participation” (Ministry of Justice, n.d.). The initiative, however, focuses mainly on the ministry’s Open Data portal (http://datos.jus.gob.ar).

Case study: Open Parliament in Argentina

According to data from Latinobarometer (Corporación Latinobarómetro, 2018), trust in parliaments across Latin America, including in Argentina, has decreased in recent years. In 2018, on average only 21% of surveyed citizens trusted their parliamentary institutions. While this number is slightly higher in Argentina (26%), it still remains relatively low. Open parliament initiatives can be a means to counter this prevailing level of mistrust and foster engagement with citizens and stakeholders. According to Topouria (2016), the transparency and accessibility of Parliament constitute a foundation for encouraging citizen participation in the legislative process and for enhancing the democratic performance of the state.

As discussed in the OECD Report on Open Government (2016a), “greater openness of the legislative process enables citizens to engage more effectively in the policy-making process by providing citizens with access to information about the laws and policies under consideration, as well as with opportunities to influence legislative deliberations and more actively participate in the political debate”. Taking advantage of advances in ICTs, an increasing number of parliaments across the world are adopting new tools to open their legislative data and increase citizen participation in the legislative process (OGP, n.d.). Interesting examples of open parliament initiatives can be found in France, Chile and Paraguay (Box 7.8).

Box ‎7.8. Open parliament initiatives in France, Chile and Paraguay

France

France adopted the National Action Plan on Parliamentary Openness within the framework of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) programme in July 2015. The French National Assembly committed itself to strengthening the transparency of the legislative process and increasing the involvement of citizens in the work of the National Assembly. It is important to point out that the National Assembly voluntarily engaged with the government in this process.

Furthermore, in July 2017 the Presidency of the National Assembly launched “Rendez-vous des reforms 2017-2022”, a process designed to “modernise the Assembly by making it more transparent, more efficient and more open in its operation”. The resulting second Parliamentary Action Plan includes 17 commitments which are clustered under four axes:

  1. 1. The Comprehensive Approach to Reforming the National Assembly: “For a New National Assembly: The 2017-2022 Reform Meetings” aims to comprehensively modernise the functioning of the National Assembly through the application of an open, participatory and transparent methodology.

  2. 2. Transparency and openness: Reporting on the functioning of the National Assembly is a fundamental principle that builds trust between citizens and their elected representatives. Commitments essential to the re-establishment of strong links between the institution and civil society are presented, including the open source publication of the National Assembly’s source codes or the publication of new datasets on the open data platform.

  3. 3. Citizen participation: This section presents four commitments that aim to enable citizens to participate more actively in the functioning of the National Assembly, whether at work or using the data it produces and disseminates (open data) via the development of citizen consultations, for example.

  4. 4. Better publicising parliamentary work: Different institutional actors are responsible for bringing parliamentary work to the attention of citizens. Members of Parliament and the National Assembly must also exploit the possibilities offered by digital technology to communicate their actions by offering training in the use of new technologies or by diversifying the institution’s digital communication.

Chile

In Chile, the “Open Congress” website (http://congresoabierto.cl) allows citizens to get in touch with members of Congress and to consult laws and regulations currently being discussed in Parliament. The website is designed in a user-friendly way and also includes contact details of, and initiatives taken by, all members of Congress, as well as studies and a glossary of most commonly used terms. Citizens can search for draft laws, representatives of Congress or any other information. The website offers users an overview of the daily topics of discussion in the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) and the Senate (Senado) with more information on discussion or speeches. The Chilean Congress has further developed an Open Data portal, which records includes data on the processing of bills, information about parliamentarians and laws already published. The format of the data allows free use without barriers or restrictions such as copyright, licenses or other control mechanisms.

Paraguay

Paraguay’s Congress has taken its first steps towards increased openness with the “Alliance for an Open Parliament”, an initiative created in 2016 by Members of Parliament, the administration of Parliament and various civil society organisations to foster “a new relationship between citizens and the Legislative Branch” (Legislative Assembly of Paraguay, 2017a). Its main objective is to “install the Open Parliament Alliance in Paraguay as platform of collaboration between civil society organisations, legislators and citizens in general in order to jointly promote a co-ordinated approach to openness in legislative institutions through the signing of a declaration that signals the commitment to develop a national Open Parliament agenda and that includes the creation of specific action plans through all available participation and dialogue mechanisms” (Legislative Assembly, 2017). The high-level Open Parliament Declaration was signed by Members of Parliament and civil society, and includes the commitment to “summon the other Powers of the State to install a joint working table where strategies are analysed and implemented” (Legislative Assembly of Paraguay, 2017b).

In 2016, a first Open Parliament Action Plan was elaborated. The Plan was drafted jointly with civil society organisations and includes a number of commitments to which the Congress (both Chambers together), the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies and civil society organisations have adhered. In addition, an “Open Parliament Commission” was created in Congress within the framework of the Open Parliament initiative. The Commission includes members of both chambers and has great potential to guide the country’s overall open state process over the next few years.

Source: Congress of Chile (n.d.), “Congreso Abierto”, http://congresoabierto.cl (accessed 28 September 2016); Government of France (n.d.), Gouvernement et Parlement ouverts: la France renouvelle son engagement pour une action publique transparente et collaborative [Open Government and Parliament: France Renews its Commitment to Transparent and Collaborative Public Action], Paris; OECD (2018), Paraguay: Pursuing National Development through Integrated Public Governance, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264301856-en.

Argentina’s Parliament – the Congress of the Argentine Nation – is divided into the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Both chambers responded to the OECD Survey and each provided an insight into their processes to become more open, transparent and accountable. Both chambers have, for instance, elaborated a definition of open parliament and have established offices responsible for their open parliament efforts. For the first time, both Chambers have also assumed a joint commitment to promote openness of data for the Argentine National Congress as part of Argentina’s third OGP Action Plan (see above). A variety of further strategies and initiatives in both Chambers also make reference to open government principles. For example, the Institutional Strategic Plan 2018-2022 of the Chamber of Deputies includes strategic objectives to promote open government principles. In addition, the Chamber of Deputies has approved a participatory planning procedure to promote transparency, accountability and citizen participation.

While the progress made by both chambers is laudable, for the time being, the open parliament agendas of both chambers focus mainly on the opening of data and leave out other open government principles. The chambers could thus consider elaborating a joint open parliament action plan, together with civil society, as has been done in Paraguay (Box ‎7.8). Such an action plan could be based on the proposed National Open Government Strategy.

In the future it will also be important to involve parliaments from the subnational level in an effort to become a truly open state. In this regard, existing good practices such as the open parliament initiative in Mendoza could be promoted more widely (Box 7.9).

Box ‎7.9. The Legislatura Abierta website in Mendoza

Within the framework of the project Legislatura Abierta, which aims to promote open government in the legislative processes of the province, the Legislatura de Mendoza carries out the following initiatives:

  • Oficinas de Atención al Ciudadano: These offices offer personalised attention to citizens in order to respond to their queries, suggestions and/or complaints concerning the activities of the Legislatura. They also serve as contact points between citizens and the respective offices in charge of each area, as they communicate concerns raised by citizens in relation to the different legislative and administrative processes in the province.

  • Oficinas Territoriales: These offices promote and organise activities that aim to facilitate the direct participation of citizens in legislative processes. They take care of all necessary logistics to generate physical spaces where senators can engage with citizens across the province.

  • Legislatura Joven: This initiative promotes forums, workshops, talks, debates and discussions, in order to raise awareness and facilitate youth participation in the legislative processes. As a result of the activities organised in 2016, three main lines of action where identified (rights, integrity and opportunities) to be taken into account in the elaboration of the future Ley de Juventudes.

  • Escuela de Gobierno y Capacitación: This institution facilitates training to civil servants in order to improve the quality of services provided to citizens and increase transparency in government processes.

  • Oficina de Presupesto y Hacienda: This office promotes the participation of citizens in the processes of elaboration, approval, management, modification and control of public finances. Since 2016, budgetary reports are being published periodically including records of expenditure, income and results generated by the activities of the Legislatura in the province.

  • Website www.legislaturabierta.gob.ar: This platform contains the latest news about legislation in the province and includes a section designed to engage with citizens, as it allows them to submit opinions for publication in order to generate debate.

Source: Legislative Branch of Mendoza (n.d.), Legislatura Mendoza, www.legislaturamendoza.gov.ar.

Case study: Strengthening the contribution of Independent Public Institutions to an open state

Independent institutions are in a privileged position to support a country’s open government agenda.

While current open government efforts have mainly been led by the executive branch in co-operation with civil society, independent state institutions also could be strategic partners in reform efforts. In fact, independent institutions, such as anti-corruption agencies, ombudsman institutions or supreme audit institutions, have a wealth of information about the (mal)functioning of the public administration, while equally playing an important role in holding the government to account. This expertise could inform open government reforms; moreover, the oversight functions of these institutions could include monitoring and evaluating their implementation. In addition, these institutions often have privileged relationship with citizens and civil society which could be harnessed to promote a more inclusive process.

Among these institutions, the ombudsman interacts particularly closely with citizens, guarding their rights and acting as a mediator with the public administration. By implementing open government principles into its own functioning and feeding back citizens’ concerns into the policy cycle, the institution is in a unique position to promote open government principles.

Only a small number of ombudsman institutions around the world contribute to their country’s open government agendas.

In 2018, the OECD realised the first-ever Report on The Role of Ombudsman Institutions in Open Government (OECD, 2018b) assessed the policies and practices of 94 ombudsman institutions from 65 countries and territories. Institutions participated from the 35 OECD countries and 6 Latin American countries, including the Argentinian Ombudsman.

The report found that a large majority (90%) of ombudsman institutions (OIs) have contributed to their countries’ public governance reform agenda in one capacity or another. In fact, most institutions contributed to public administration reform (75%) and legislative reform (73%) with far fewer indicating that they had been involved in anti-corruption efforts (38%) and open government initiatives (34%) (OECD, 2018b). This is in spite of the fact that OIs consider improving the accountability and transparency of the public sector to be among their most important contributions to public governance reform.

The 2018 OECD Report found that while an open government culture is part of the DNA of ombudsman institutions (OIs), they could use open government principles and practices more strategically to fulfil their mandate, increase trust in their institution and become a role model for other actors of the public sector. Indeed, transparency and integrity practices are widespread among OIs.

Box ‎7.10. Ombudsman institutions’ strategies on open government principles

The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales (United Kingdom) developed an Outreach Strategy and Work Programme 2016/17 with the following objectives: 1) awareness (about the institution), 2) engagement (through two-way communication) and 3) accessibility (of services for all). The strategy puts particular focus on engaging key actors, such as voluntary/advocacy groups and organisations, as well as marginalised groups (e.g. the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] community, people with disabilities and people in deprived areas), and proposes a variety of tools, both digital (websites, social media, blogs) and non-digital (conferences, meetings, roadshows, training, focus groups, press, advertising, organisational literature). The strategy also includes indicators to measure success.

The Western Australia Ombudsman has an awareness and accessibility programme that aims to strengthen awareness of the institution and access to its services. It also includes a focus on engaging stakeholders, in particular regional and Aboriginal Western Australians, children and young people, and people in prisons and detention centres. The institution engages stakeholders based on a framework that includes the following steps:

  • Identify the type of information (including data) and stakeholder consultation that is required.

  • Identify the relevant stakeholders.

  • Develop a stakeholder consultation strategy that aims to maximise information gathering according to the different stakeholders involved.

  • Identify the timeline for the consultation process.

  • Plan the consultation in view of the available resources and budget.

Other OIs have included open government principles within their overall strategies. The European Ombudsman’s strategy “Towards 2019”, for example, encourages an internal culture of transparency and states that their “mission is to serve democracy by working with the institutions of the European Union to create a more effective, accountable, transparent and ethical administration.”

Source: OECD (2018b), “The role of ombudsman institutions in open government”, OECD Working Paper on Public Governance, No. 29, OECD Publishing, Paris, www.oecd.org/gov/the-role-of-ombudsman-institutions-in-open-government.pdf.

The Argentinian Ombudsman could develop its own strategic policy to foster open government principles, based on contributing to the National Strategy.

The office in charge of open government within the Argentinian Ombudsman institution is the area of “Identity and Citizenship”. The office has 15 permanent employees and reports directly to the Assistant Secretary-General of the institution. According to the results of the OECD Report The Role of Ombudsman Institutions in Open Government, the Argentinian Ombudsman provides a positive example. The institution is among the 13% of OIs that have participated in a co-ordination mechanism on open government,1 the 26% of institutions that affirm playing a role in overseeing open government commitments in their country, and the 15% of institutions participating in the open government agenda.

Indeed, the Ombudsman of Argentina is part of Argentina’s third OGP Action Plan for 2017-2019 through commitment 32, which foresees “the establishment of an innovation laboratory for those organisations responsible for safeguarding rights and in charge of external scrutiny” (jointly with the National Penitentiary Procurator). In order to further its involvement in the country’s open government agenda and to be an actor for an open state, the Argentinian Ombudsman considered lack of expertise and capacity, as well as resistance to change and the culture of secrecy, as challenges that needed to be overcome (responses to the 2017 OECD Ombudsman Survey).

While the Ombudsman – aside from its involvement in the OGP process – has designed and implemented a number of additional open government initiatives (e.g. relating to the implementation of the ATI Law), it does not have a strategy currently in place to promote open government principles within its own institution. Depending on the model Argentina chooses for an eventual Open Government Strategy (see Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework), the Ombudsman could develop its own Open Ombudsman Strategy or incorporate open government objectives into the institution’s strategic plan.

The Argentinian Ombudsman has recognised its strategic role in Argentina’s open government reform agenda through participating in the OGP process and proactively promoting access to information. To strengthen this involvement, it could further participate in the open state meetings of Argentina’s National Open Government Steering Committee. In so doing, the institution could use its expertise to promote an open government culture within the public administration and society at large.

The Argentinian Ombudsman could continue promoting open government principles within the institution.

In its responses to the OECD Ombudsman Survey, the Argentinian Ombudsman considered the lack of human resources, the lack of a comprehensive strategy for the implementation of open government principles, and the lack of expertise and capacity as the main challenges to furthering its open government agenda internally.

The majority of institutions around the world adhere to a code of conduct or ethics, require asset and/or conflict of interest declarations from part or all of their staff, and publish key information about the institution, such as the vision and the financial audit report, as well as recommendations and findings. In this vein, the Argentinian Ombudsman publishes its annual report and has integrity policies in place.

The Argentinian Ombudsman has also started including sessions on open government into (induction) training for staff. In fact, in 2018 six days of training on open government were organised that were attended by all the staff of the agency. This training was provided by the then Ministry of Modernisation together with civil society within the framework of the commitment, assumed by the ombudsman together with the Penitentiary Procurator, in the third NAP. Likewise, the ombudsman’s IT staff was trained on open data in courses provided by the then Ministry of Modernisation.

Improving the multi-level governance of open government in Argentina

Provinces have started consolidating their legal, policy and institutional frameworks for open government.

The results of the OECD Provinces Survey show that open government principles are well entrenched in many provinces of Argentina, most of which have at least a basic understanding of open government. The Constitutions of 80% of provinces refer to open government principles, and the majority of provinces also have some kind of legislation on access to information in place (see Chapter 3 on the Legal Framework). Moreover, approximately 73% of provinces have either a ministry or an office in charge of their open government agenda. In most cases, the name of this office actually includes the words “open government”, which is indicative of a belief in the benefits of a cross-cutting open government agenda. For instance, in the Province of Buenos Aires, the Provincial Office of Evaluation and Open Government, which is part of the Undersecretariat of Co-ordination of Management in the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers, leads the open government agenda. Similarly, the Province of Jujuy has a Provincial Directorate of Transparency and Open Government, which is part of the Secretariat of Communication and Open Government, and in turn depends on the General Secretariat of the Government. Figure 7.5 provides an overview of the main responsibilities of these leading ministries/offices in those provinces where they exist. It shows that all ministries/offices design open government initiatives and co-ordinate and monitor their implementation, while only a small number assign financial resources.

Figure ‎7.5. Responsibilities of the Ministry/co-ordinating office of the open government agenda in provinces
Figure ‎7.5. Responsibilities of the Ministry/co-ordinating office of the open government agenda in provinces

Note: The figure only shows the answers provided by the 11 Provinces which indicated that they had a co-ordinating office for open government.

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

As discussed in Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework, 80% of provinces have their own definition of open government, some of which demonstrate an advanced understanding of open government principles. The province of Salta, for instance, uses the concept of open state and defines it “as a model of governance, which seeks to transform the relationship between government and society, to create and strengthen participatory democracy”. In the government of the province of Salta, “the practice of open government is proposed as a transversal public policy to improve the management of government actions, based on five principles: transparency, access to public information, citizen ethics, technological innovation and citizen participation”. The government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires understands open government as “a new way of governing that makes use of technology and citizen participation to develop a more direct, efficient and transparent democracy. Open government is transparency, innovation, citizen participation, collaboration and accountability”.

On the basis of these definitions, all provinces have gained experience in experimenting with open government initiatives. Open data initiatives are particularly high on the agenda, followed by initiatives to foster digital government and transparency, as well as initiatives to sensitize human resources on open government principles (Figure 7.6).

Figure ‎7.6. Percentage of provinces that are implementing different kinds of open government initiatives
Figure ‎7.6. Percentage of provinces that are implementing different kinds of open government initiatives

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

For most provinces, the most important objective pursued through the implementation of open government initiatives is “improving the transparency of the public sector”. A significant number of provinces also mentioned “improving the accountability of the public sector” and “enhancing citizen participation in the formulation of public policies” (Table 7.3). The strong focus on improving transparency can be seen as an indication that many provinces are still in the early stages of development of their open government agendas. In many cases, it is only once the bases are solidly established that institutions start moving towards objectives such as the generation of economic growth.

Table ‎7.3. Improving transparency is provinces’ main objective in the implementation of open government initiatives

 

Improve the transparency of the public sector

Improve the accountability of the public sector

Improve the effectiveness of the public sector

Improve the efficiency of the public sector

Improve the public sector’s capacity to respond to citizens’ and businesses’ needs

Improve citizen participation in policy formulation

Prevent and fight corruption

Increase citizens’ trust in the public sector of the province

Generate economic growth

Others

Formosa

-

-

-

1

2

-

-

-

3

-

Entre Rios

1

-

2

-

-

3

-

-

-

-

Chaco

-

-

-

-

1

2

-

3

-

-

Buenos Aires

1

2

-

-

-

-

-

3

-

-

Mendoza

1

-

2

-

-

-

-

-

3

-

Salta

1

2

-

-

-

3

-

-

-

-

Río Negro

1

2

-

-

3

-

-

-

-

-

Neuquén

-

3

-

-

1

-

2

-

-

Santa Fe

1

-

-

-

-

2

-

3

-

-

Catamarca

1

2

-

-

-

3

-

-

-

-

Corrientes

-

2

-

-

-

3

-

-

-

1

Jujuy

1

2

-

-

-

-

3

-

-

-

Misiones

1

-

-

-

-

2

3

-

-

-

Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires

-

1

-

-

2

3

-

-

-

-

Córdoba

1

-

-

-

-

3

-

2

-

-

Note: Provinces were asked the following question: “What are the main objectives that you pursue in the implementation of initiatives to promote the principles of open government? Please rank the three most important ones in order of priority”. In the table, “1” indicates the most important objective.

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

When it comes to the main challenges they are facing, most provinces cited “lack of trust of citizens in the institutions” (60%). This was followed by “lack of institutional mechanisms to collaborate with NGOs and the private sector”, “low levels of participation when citizens are invited to participate by the government” and “lack of human resources in the co-ordinating entity (46% for each of these challenges) (Figure 7.7). These numbers indicate that provinces need to continue efforts to gain their citizens’ confidence. Open government reforms that aim to involve citizens in a meaningful way, as discussed in Chapter 6 on Citizen and Stakeholder Participation, can address some of these challenges.

Figure ‎7.7. Main challenges provinces face in the implementation of open government initiatives
Figure ‎7.7. Main challenges provinces face in the implementation of open government initiatives

Note: Provinces were asked the following question: “What are the main challenges in the implementation of open government policies in your province (please select three challenges)?”

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

The OGP process has been a tool to foster trust between the national government and the provinces.

As mentioned above, many countries have used the OGP process as a tool to foster collaboration and co-ordination between national and subnational governments (see also Table 7.4 below). Argentina’s first two OGP Action Plans did not involve the provinces. However, thanks to significant outreach efforts on the part of the national government, the third Action Plan includes for the first time commitments from 11 provinces (Table 7.4). In preparation of the NAP, roundtables were held in each of these provinces. The then MoM’s UOG provided advice and support to provinces that expressed an interest in participating in the process (Government of Argentina, 2017).

Table ‎7.4. Subnational commitments in Argentina’s third OGP Action Plan

Commitment

Province

Promotion and strengthening of open government policies in municipalities of the province

Province of Buenos Aires

Open observatory of urban works: accountability and citizen participation

City of Buenos Aires

Platform to link CSOs and the Provincial Government

Chaco

Strengthening open government policies: boosting citizen participation in Chubut

Chubut

Institutionalisation of open government policies in the province of Córdoba

Córdoba

Collaborative network between civil society organisations and the state

Corrientes

Extension of the information access ecosystem in municipalities

Jujuy

Strengthening of data openness policies in municipalities of the Province of Mendoza

Mendoza

Participatory platform for citizen protection

Neuquén

Participatory elaboration of a bill to create an Open Government Provincial Law

Salta

Openness of information of the Judiciary

Santa Fe

Source: Government of Argentina (2017), III Open Government National Plan of the Argentine Republic, Buenos Aires, www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Argentina_Action-Plan_2017-2019_EN.pdf.

All provinces that participated found the OGP process useful, mostly because it allowed them to position themselves nationally and at the international level (72% indicated this) and because it allowed them to promote open government principles within the province (63% indicated this) Figure 7.8).

Figure ‎7.8. Provinces’ perceptions on the usefulness of their involvement in the OGP process
Figure ‎7.8. Provinces’ perceptions on the usefulness of their involvement in the OGP process

Note: Provinces were asked the following question: “Has the OGP process been useful for your province (please chose as many options as applicable)?” The figure only presents the answers given by the 12 provinces that indicated that they had been involved in the OGP process.

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

The involvement of such a high number of provinces is a good practice; however, this might not be replicable in the future. According to information received from the national government, Argentina’s next NAP will include a significantly lower number of commitments. Such reduced breadth may not allow for a large number of participating subnational entities. The national government will therefore need to find alternative ways to reach out to and work with provinces on their open government agendas (e.g. by providing support in the development of provinces’ own Open Government Strategies and Action Plans). Provinces that participated in the third Plan could also share their experiences with their counterparts within the framework of COFEMOD and its Open .Government Commission (see Box 7.11).

Box 7.11. Colombia’s third OGP Action Plan reaches out to subnational governments

Colombia joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011 and presented its third biannual OGP Action Plan in 2017. The Plan, entitled Colombia – Hacia un Estado Abierto 2017-2019, includes a strong focus on the departmental level, and contains 25 commitments sub-divided according to the different branches of power and levels of government.

Seven of the commitments focus specifically on subnational governments. Particularly noteworthy are commitment 20: Design and implement the policy on open government at the department level, and commitment 23: Promote and strengthen the processes of accountability in the 20 locations of the capital district. This inclusion of an significant number of departments in the process represents a good practice which will be continued in future OGP Action Plans.

Source: Government of Colombia (2017), Colombia – Hacia un Estado Abierto: Tercer Plan de Acción Nacional 2017-2019, Bogota, www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/colombia-action-plan-2017-2019 (accessed 10 December 2018).

Some initiatives developed by provinces can be considered good practices and could be shared more widely

The Survey and the fact-finding mission to the provinces of Mendoza and Santa Fe and to the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires enabled the OECD to identify existing good practices at subnational level in Argentina. While an in-depth analysis of these good practices would go beyond the scope of this Review, the present document highlights a number of particularly interesting initiatives that could inspire subnational governments across Argentina and at the international level.

For instance, the province of Santa Fe has a longstanding tradition of citizen and stakeholder participation and has frequently involved stakeholders in its planning exercises. Practices that stand out include Santa Fe’s SantaLab, a collaboration interface that brings together innovative citizen initiatives, and Santa Fe Responde, the virtual channel of the government (Box 7.12). Those good practices have the potential to inspire other provinces (and subnational government around the world). In recognition of this potential, the province of Santa Fe has designed a manual that allows interested actors to replicate and adapt the SantaLab experience to their own context.

Box ‎7.12. SantaLab: a good international open and innovative government practice

Santalab is the public, open and citizen innovation laboratory of the province of Santa Fe in Argentina. It was created as part of the province’s policy to foster public innovation and open government, and creates virtual and physical spaces where citizens, public institutions from all branches of power and companies can meet and work together.

Santalab defines three lines of innovation:

  • Civic hacking consists of initiatives to foster transparency, open data, digital participation, 21st century democracy and collaborative laws, among others.

  • Digital culture comprises initiatives that promote digital inclusion, the right to innovate, access to free software and free culture, among others.

  • Sustainable development consists of engagement with citizens and activists on issues such as environmental sustainability, recycling, urban mobility and sustainable communities based on social cohesion.

To implement initiatives in these fields, Santalab focuses on two areas of work:

  • Gob.Lab develops innovation capacities and implements citizen agendas for the three lines of action at the provincial and municipal levels of government.

  • Co.Lab develops methodologies and platforms for the co-creation of public solutions in collaboration with citizens. These can be directly implemented by citizens without the intervention of other government areas.

Santalab carries out three different types of activities, each of which is adapted to a different audience:

  • Outreach activities aim to raise awareness and broaden the public innovation community.

  • Training and co-creation activities consist of open and free workshops aimed at a smaller number of participants with a predisposition to get involved.

  • Long and complex prototyping activities foster citizen innovation.

Santalab has also developed a set of guidelines entitled “The Santalab Method: How to Promote Public Innovation Based on Citizen Creativity”; these explain the laboratory model to enable other governments and organisations to implement similar policies.

Source: Province of Santa Fe (n.d.), Laboratorios de Innovación Ciudadana [Citizen Innovation Laboratories], www.santafe.gob.ar/index.php/web/content/view/full/203591/(subtema)/93686 (accessed 10 December 2018).

The OECD team also had the opportunity to organise interviews with public officials, civil society organisations and academia from the province of Mendoza. The province has made great strides in promoting its open government agenda in recent years, incorporating a commitment into Argentina’s third NAP and hosting the Argentina Abierta conference in 2018 (see Box 7.13 below). One particularly noteworthy initiative is the transparency portal launched by Mendoza’s Institute of Games and Casinos, one of the first such institutes in the world to actively promote open government principles.

Box ‎7.13. Open government initiatives of the Instituto Provincial de Juegos y Casinos of the Province of Mendoza

The Instituto Provincial de Juegos y Casinos of Mendoza is a decentralised autonomous entity within the Ministry of Finance of the province. It is responsible for the administration, exploitation and control of the lottery of Mendoza and all official games of the province.

In 2016, the Unidad Técnica de Mercado y Juegos was entrusted with the design, development and management of an open government website. As a consequence, the transparency portal SAPIA (Sistema de Acceso Público a Información General de los Juegos de Azar) was launched in October 2016. The portal aims to give citizens access to all information related to the exploitation of games (casinos, lottery and horse racing) in the province of Mendoza.

SAPIA is the first portal of its kind in the world. It makes available open data of the gaming industry, including contributions to the provincial and national state, taxes paid by the operators, benefits and other information that may be of interest (call for tenders, taxes, etc.). The portal also functions as a platform where citizens can interact with the authorities through direct consultations and the submission of complaints.

The main objectives of SAPIA are to:

  • foster citizen participation

  • create more transparent policy-making and decision-making processes

  • promote higher quality standards

  • facilitate access to and encourage the use of new technologies.

Source: Province of Mendoza (n.d.), Mendoza Gobierno, www.juegosycasinos.mendoza.gov.ar (accessed 10 December 2018).

The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA), which was also visited as part of the Review process, has a long tradition of working on open government principles. It is one of the continent’s pioneering cities in this field, having already adopted one of the first Acts on Access to Public Information of Latin America in 1998. As a participant in the OGP Local Programme (see below), the City has been a leading actor in the promotion of open government data. Initiatives worth mentioning include the “BA Elige” platform, which allows citizens to decide on how to allocate part of the City’s budget, and the “BAObras portal”, which provides data about all public works undertaken in the City (Box 7.14).

Box ‎7.14. The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires’ BAObras portal and BAElige platform

Buenos Aires Obras

BAObras is an online platform created as part of the Open Government Ecosystem of the City of Buenos Aires to provide information about tenders and works, their progress, budgets and the people in charge of them. It functions as a portal to increase transparency in the administration through real-time monitoring of works carried out by the government. It provides updated and structured data in accordance with international transparency standards as well as integrated reporting with clear and organised updates. The portal also includes a participatory process for the building of indicators. In addition, citizens can see photos and videos of progress made for each public work. The information is updated every four months.

BA Elige

The BA Elige initiative, launched in March 2017, was created as a result of a collaborative process between the Government of the City of Buenos Aires (GCBA) and the Madrid City Council. BA Elige is an open and accessible space where anyone can propose and choose ideas that could help improve neighbourhoods, comunas (communes) and the City of Buenos Aires as a whole. Chosen projects are incorporated into the initial draft of the Budget Law of the following year.

Each year, the GCBA assigns an annual budget (USD 500 million in 2018 and USD 600 million in 2019) to carry out the projects chosen collectively through the BA Elige platform.

Source: www.buenosaires.gob.ar/baobras; https://baelige.buenosaires.gob.ar.

The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires as a participant in the OGP Local Programme

In 2016, the OGP developed a “Local Programme” in recognition of the fact that “many open government innovations and reforms are happening at the local level where governments can engage more directly with citizens, and many crucial public services are delivered” (OGP, n.d.b). The eligibility criteria and methodology for the Action Plan are the same for a national and subnational government. Partners in the Local Programme now include 20 subnational governments, among which are cities, provinces and regions such as Paris (France), Madrid (Spain), Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Ontario (Canada). In order to participate in the programme, subnational government have to comply with the same eligibility criteria as national governments (Box 7.15).

Box ‎7.15. The eligibility criteria of the Open Government Partnership

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an initiative that aims to bring “together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive and accountable”. Launched in 2011 by 8 member countries, the OGP has 71 national members (as of September 2018).

In order to be eligible to join the OGP, a government must meet the following criteria: 1) ensure fiscal transparency through the timely publication of essential budget documents; 2) have an access-to-information law that guarantees the public’s right to information and access to government data; 3) have rules that require public disclosure of income and assets for elected and senior public officials; and 4) ensure openness to citizen participation and engagement in policy making and governance, including basic protections for civil liberties.

Source: OGP (n.d.b), OGP Local Program – About, Open Government Partnership, www.opengovpartnership.org/local; OGP (2016), Open Government Partnership – Brochure, Open Government Partnership, www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/091116_OGP_Booklet_digital.pdf.

The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA) is the only Argentinian subnational government that participates in OGP’s Local Programme. The CABA is currently in the process of implementing its second OGP Action Plan. The Plan demonstrates that CABA has an advanced understanding of the potential of open government principles to contribute to wider policy objectives. Specifically, the Plan seeks to (Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, 2018):

  • leverage the local dimension to find solutions to problems that can help improve the quality of citizens’ lives

  • enhance the community’s capacity to function as a driving force of innovation

  • apply sharing economy logic – the best ideas can be scattered throughout a community

  • rethink processes to focus on the user’s experience

  • apply technology to find creative solutions.

The Plan includes five main commitments all of which are linked to specific Sustainable Development Goals and include a variety of concrete sub-commitments. The five commitments are: openness and innovation for an open government, a human-scale city, gender equality, transport and mobility, and housing: an indicators system (Ibid.).

Independent Open Government Steering Committees could also be created in each province

In their answers to the OECD Survey, most provinces indicated that they have created a Committee/Roundtable to co-ordinate open government strategies and initiatives. However, in most cases their responses actually referred to ad hoc working meetings between actors. In order to provide a formalised space for co-ordination, provinces could consider creating more permanent Provincial Open Government Steering Committees. These Committees could bring together all relevant ministries/offices from the provincial government, local civil society leaders, the private sector and academia.

Most provinces have an active civil society community. However, evidence suggests that local CSOs are often not involved in the provincial open government agenda, and interviews during the peer-driven OECD fact-finding missions confirmed that provincial governments face challenges in reaching out to local civil society leaders. In many cases, the participation of civil society is limited to the larger universities or civil society organisations with stronger capacities. It also often depends on existing links between the provincial open government co-ordinators and civil society leaders. The creation of Provincial Open Government Steering Committees could help to structure civil society engagement and foster trust.

In an effort to promote an open state, provincial committees could also include the other branches of power, independent public institutions and municipalities. The Survey results showed a tendency towards increased collaboration between branches of power at provincial level in Argentina. For instance, 40% of provincial governments collaborate with their provincial judiciaries, 46% with the provincial legislature and 60% collaborate with independent public institutions. Once created, the provincial committees could also be used as an interface for interacting with the national government and municipalities

The creation of an Open Government Commission in COFEMOD represented an important step towards more effective vertical co-ordination

Countries have created different mechanisms to co-ordinate open government strategies and initiatives across various levels of government. Some have taken the step of creating formal spaces that involve representatives from the different levels. Spain’s newly created Open Government Forum provides an interesting example of a whole-of-state co-ordination effort (Box 7.16).

Box ‎7.16. The Spanish Open Government Forum (Foro de Gobierno Abierto)

In February 2018, the Government of Spain launched the Open Government Forum, the first open dialogue between all levels of government and civil society on transparency, participation and accountability.

The Plenary meets once or twice a year. It brings together public administrations from all levels and civil society including:

  • representatives of the General State Administration (AGE), all the Autonomous Communities and Cities (CC. AA.) and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP)

  • representatives of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, university professors, non-profit associations and foundations, the Council of Consumers and Users, and entities of the third sector.

The Permanent Commission is the executive organ of the Forum. It comprises the following members of the Plenary:

  • the First and Second Vice Presidents

  • six members representing the public administration (including subnational governments) and six vocal representatives of civil society

  • other members of the Plenary that are not part of the Permanent Commission, as well as experts or advisors in matters to be discussed.

The working groups are spaces for reflection where information is grouped, knowledge is generated and different points of view are contrasted on specific topics of open government. Experts or advisors on the topics to be discussed may be invited to the meetings, as well as any member of the Plenary. There are currently three working groups:

  • Participation and collaboration

  • Transparency and accountability

  • Training and awareness.

Source: Government of Spain (n.d.), Foro de Gobierno Abierto [Open Government Forum], Madrid, http://transparencia.gob.es/transparencia/transparencia_Home/index/Gobierno-abierto/ForoGA.html (accessed 10 December 2018).

As mentioned above, vertical co-ordination of transversal public policies in Argentina has historically been managed through the creation of Federal Councils. Currently, the most important Council for the vertical co-ordination of open government initiatives is the Federal Council for Modernisation and Innovation in Public Management (Consejo Federal de Modernización e Innovación en la Gestión Pública de la República Argentina, COFEMOD) which is co-ordinated by the Government Secretariat of Modernisation. One of the Council’s six technical Commissions focuses on Open Government and Innovation (the “Open Government Commission”).

The agenda of COFEMOD is structured around the Federal State Modernisation Commitments (see Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework), the third commitment of which focuses on open government. In particular, it proposes:

  • to promote the publication of information on public management, encouraging its reuse by society

  • to develop an action plan for open government policies in each province, guided by the processes of the Open Government Partnership (OGP)

  • to promote the homogenisation of public information to achieve interoperability of information between jurisdictions

  • to develop innovation capabilities and encourage the realisation of devices for the resolution of public problems through the use of agile methodologies and civic technology.

While the third commitment is progressive, the OECD considers that – rather than designing action plans in each province – provinces could develop more complete policy frameworks for their open government agendas. Provinces could, for instance, adhere to a National Open Government Strategy and develop their own Provincial Strategies, as discussed in Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework.

Each Commission of COFEMOD establishes its own work agenda and can organise its own meetings whenever it wishes. The main objective of the Open Government Commission, created in 2017, is to co-ordinate initiatives that promote the adoption of open government agendas by subnational administrations. Currently, the representatives of the provinces of Córdoba and Santa Fe chair the Commission.

Responses from provinces to the OECD Survey highlighted the general usefulness of the exchange of good practices taking place within the framework of COFEMOD, both from one province to another and between provinces and the national government. However, some provinces were concerned that the Open Government Commission focused on the promotion of a national agenda that involves the provinces, rather than on tangible results in the open government agendas of the provinces themselves. Moreover, some provinces argued that COFEMOD’s working commissions need their own human resources in order to support the implementation of proposals. Others considered that membership of the Commission would be beneficial to representatives of civil society and the private sector.

If fully used, the Commission has the potential to become the primary space for the vertical co-ordination of open government strategies and initiatives, and also provides an excellent entry point for tailor-made capacity-building support. In the development of a possible National Open Government Strategy, the Commission would serve to discuss a shared vision for open government in the entire country. The resulting Strategy could include a section that lists priority topics of the provinces and that is elaborated within the framework of COFEMOD. Provinces could then adhere to the Strategy, selecting specific priorities that they deem essential to advancing their agendas. The national government could then facilitate resources for specific projects that are linked to the achievement of overall objectives of the Strategy.

A National Open Government Steering Committee would provide an opportunity to foster co-ordination between the national and provincial agendas

The proposed National Open Government Steering Committee (CNGA) would function as the central space for the co-ordination of the national open government agenda. To promote a truly holistic open state approach, however, it would be important to ensure that the CNGA’s agenda is fully co-ordinated with the work being done by the Open Government Commission of COFEMOD, which defines the subnational agenda. The Government Secretariat of Modernisation, which participates in COFEMOD meetings, would also be the leading actor of the CNGA and, as such, would have the task of aligning agendas and making sure that efforts by both parties converge in the same direction.

Another way to ensure complementarity would be to give seats in the open state meetings of the National Committee to the two provinces that chair the Commission of COFEMOD (Figure 7.9). These provinces would then be responsible for reporting to their provincial counterparts.

Figure ‎7.9. Possible composition of the open state meetings of the National Open Government Steering Committee
Figure ‎7.9. Possible composition of the open state meetings of the National Open Government Steering Committee

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

The provincial representatives in the Open Government Commission of COFEMOD, the Federal Council of Transparency (which was created to co-ordinate the country’s access to information agenda (see Chapter 3 on the Legal Framework)), and the Federal Roundtables on Citizen Participation (Mesas Federales de Participación Ciudadana) (see Chapter 5 on Citizen and Stakeholder Participation) are often the same. In order to avoid unnecessary cost and duplication, it will therefore be important to ensure a fluid exchange of information between the different existing spaces of co-ordination. In the medium term, Argentina could also consider integrating the existing spaces and creating one single Commission under the umbrella of the country’s open government and open state agenda. Figure 7.10 provides an overview of existing spaces of co-ordination between the national government and the provinces.

Figure ‎7.10. Unifying the existing spaces of co-ordination between the national government and provinces
Figure ‎7.10. Unifying the existing spaces of co-ordination between the national government and provinces

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

Taking into account the recommendations made in Chapter 4 on Implementation, the institutional framework for an open state in Argentina might then resemble the structure presented in Figure 7.11.

Figure ‎7.11. Suggested institutional framework for an open state in Argentina
Figure ‎7.11. Suggested institutional framework for an open state in Argentina

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

The national government could reinforce support to provinces, while respecting the differences in maturity of their open government reform agendas.

Evidence gathered during the second fact-finding mission shows that exchanges between the national government and provinces have become more fluid in recent years. The OECD Survey asked provinces whether they had collaborated with the then Ministry of Modernisation in the elaboration and implementation of open government initiatives beyond their participation in the OGP Action Plan. According to the responses, most provinces participated in seminars organised by the then MoM and many received guidance through toolkits and other means (Figure 7.12). For instance, provinces report having received support to start their open data initiatives from the then MoM through the Andino platform, and many participated in courses offered by the INAP (see also Chapter 4 on Implementation).

Figure ‎7.12. All provinces collaborated with the then Ministry of Modernisation on the elaboration and implementation of their own open government strategies and initiatives
Figure ‎7.12. All provinces collaborated with the then Ministry of Modernisation on the elaboration and implementation of their own open government strategies and initiatives

Note: Provinces were asked the following question: “In the elaboration and implementation of your own strategies and initiatives (beyond the OGP Action Plan) to promote open government, do you collaborate with the Ministry of Modernisation of the National Government (more than one response is possible)?”

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

Despite this progress, all provinces but one also saw potential to improve co-operation between them and with the SGM through additional technical support and knowledge transfers. Given the great diversity in terms of administrative capacity and resources of provinces, the national government will need to take a flexible approach to the multi-level governance of open government. While some challenges are shared, each province also faces specific challenges and their maturity in terms of modernisation differs. In order to address this, the national government could continue using existing spaces such as Argentina Abierta (Box 7.17) and the Open Government Commission of COFEMOD for back-to-back capacity-building sessions in specific priority areas for provinces.

Box ‎7.17. The annual Argentina Abierta conference as a venue for dialogue and exchange of ideas

Argentina Abierta is an innovative conference convened by the national Government Secretariat of Modernisation that aims to foster the exchange of good practices and encourage discussion on issues related to transparency, accountability, new technologies, public innovation and open data. The conference brings together students, journalists, public officials, entrepreneurs and civil society organisations. The Federal Council for Modernisation and Innovation in Public Management (COFEMOD) participates actively in the meetings.

Over the years, Argentina Abierta has won national and international recognition as a platform to foster collaboration across branches of power and levels of government, and it has allowed the national government to involve new actors in the open government agenda.

  • The first Argentina Abierta conference took place in September 2016 at the Tecnópolis site, located in the province of Buenos Aires, and had more than 1 500 attendees. The conference focused on making visible and sharing initiatives on information disclosure, civic technologies, public innovation and experiences centred on building a more open, transparent and collaborative government. More than 100 national and foreign speakers participated in the meeting, and 26 panels and 6 training workshops were open to the public in a “Data Camp”, organised with the Open Knowledge Foundation.

  • The second edition of Argentina Abierta was held in June 2017 and organised by the government of the province of Córdoba together with the team of the Undersecretary of Public Innovation and Open Government of the then Ministry of Modernisation. More than 500 people from all over the country attended the conference, and around 80 national and foreign speakers led discussions and presentations in the City of Arts of the Provincial University of Córdoba.

  • The third edition of Argentina Abierta was held in Mendoza in May 2018, and was attended by a significant number of representatives of the provinces, municipalities, national and international speakers, academia and civil society. The event included a space for Hall Talks and a Lab Space, which applied the methodology of open innovation laboratories.

Source: Government of Argentina (2018), Background Report of the OECD Open Government Review of Argentina, unpublished working paper.

Fostering the involvement of municipalities in the move towards an open state

The national government should pursue efforts to foster collaboration with municipalities

Municipalities are at the heart of open government and for most people they account for the majority of direct contact they have with the state administration. The services that municipalities and cities deliver are those that have the strongest impact on peoples’ lives (e.g. public transportation, waste management, etc.). As such, it is unsurprising that many of the most outstanding open government initiatives have occurred at the municipal level (see Box 7.18).

Box ‎7.18. Opening up municipalities in the province of Biscay, Spain

The provincial Council of Biscay in Spain has developed an innovative open government approach that groups together all the province’s municipalities and grants citizens a decisive role in improving local policies and contributing to the quality of services in the region. Based on the concept that “a modern institution has to be close and accessible to its citizens”, the council commits itself to “continue working on spaces of co-operation and social participation in order to be able to be systematically accountable, transparent and efficient.”

As part of this approach, the provincial Council of Biscay developed an easy-to-use website (http://zabaltzen.balmaseda.net/es/portada) and a smartphone application, called “Udala zabaltzen” [Opening Municipalities], which allow citizens to report flaws in infrastructure, such as potholes or sanitation facilities in need of improvement. The website and app allows citizens to provide a detailed description of the reported problem, and the information is then swiftly transfered to the office responsible. Each reported issue is updated as soon as the problem is resolved. This transparent approach opens the provincial council, the municipality and the office in charge to public scrutiny.

Source: BiscayTik (n. d.), “Diputación Foral de Bizkaia” [Provincial Council of Bizkaia], www.bizkaia.eus/home2/archivos/DPTO1/goazen2030/Bizkaia2030_CAST.pdf (accessed 10 April 2018).

In Argentina, the national government has started creating a variety of initiatives to promote open government at the municipal level. For instance, the Ecosystem of Innovation programme, led by the Government Secretariat of Modernisation, seeks to streamline and consolidate municipal public policies in order to build innovation capacities in local governments (Box 7.19). The programme provides resources, tools and training to each of the participating municipalities.

Box ‎7.19. The Ministry of Modernisation’s Ecosystems of Innovative Cities and Innovative Provinces (Ecosistemas de Ciudades Innovadoras and Ecosistema de Provincias Innovadoras)

The Ecosystem of Innovation programme, led by the then Ministry of Modernisation, seeks to streamline, consolidate and streamline municipal public policies. The aim is to build innovation capacities in local governments in Argentina, in order to create a state of the 21st century. The programme is a practical one that provides resources, tools and training in each of the participating municipalities. The objective is to provide participating officials with knowledge of management methodologies, as well as trends and skills that will allow them to execute and implement initiatives once they return to their cities. The programme further aims to create a dynamic network of “public innovators” to foster the exchange of experiences and good practices.

The initiative offers practical training through courses and workshops organised in co-ordination with the País Digital Secretariat. Regional forums are held in different regions and consist of an intensive day of training in innovation, agility and digital technologies. Overall, 1 390 municipal officials from 140 different cities have been trained and 15 municipalities have been selected to carry out more intensive training with a focus on applying new methodologies to solve a pressing challenge in each municipality.

The Ecosystem of Provinces programme provides training to provincial public officials on matters of public innovation. The programme seeks not only to train participating officials, but also to develop skills and knowledge so that they can replicate what they have learned within their own teams and the municipalities within their provinces.

Source: Government of Argentina (2018), Background Report of the OECD Open Government Review of Argentina, unpublished working paper.

As discussed in Chapter 6 on Citizen and Stakeholder Participation, the Government Secretariat of Modernisation also created the programme País Digital (Digital Country) to co-ordinate digital government initiatives with provinces and municipalities. This programme provides provincial and municipal administrations with support in areas such as website creation, digital platforms and open data. Moreover, the Ministry of the Interior’s Secretariat for Municipal Affairs has a Municipal Training Department that gives courses on open government to municipal governments.

Such national government efforts are positive and should be pursued. They should also be well-coordinated with efforts being undertaken in provinces with their respective municipalities. Municipalities would also benefit from a more integrated and holistic national government approach to open government at the municipal level. In this regard, the proposed whole-of-government National Open Government Strategy could be a tool to provide municipalities with a common implementation framework.

The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires could continue fostering city-to-city exchange.

The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires’ open government agenda is in many respects more advanced than the agendas of cities in the rest of the country, as noted in different sections of this chapter and the rest of the Review (see, for instance, Chapter 6 on Citizen and Stakeholder Participation). The City of Buenos Aires is as influential promoter of open government reforms at the central level as well as a source of inspiration for provinces and municipalities alike. The City has created a Collaborating Centre of Cities (Centro de Colaboración entre Ciudades) which serves as a platform for exchanges, meetings and workshops. The Centre also offers a course on open government. City-to-city exchanges could be further enhanced through the proposed Network of Open Government Contact Points, which could actively involve municipalities and cities and organise meetings on specific issues of concern to them.

Box ‎7.20. Institutional Index of Municipal Open Government: exploratory analysis of the principal cities in the Northeast of Brazil

The Institutional Index of Municipal Open Government (IIGAM-Brazil) is founded on an exploratory analysis of progress made in the implementation of open government initiatives in nine capitals in the Northeast of Brazil.

The index includes:

  • qualitative and quantitative research techniques

  • descriptive and exploratory research from secondary data published on the websites of the governments of the Brazilian Northeast capitals.

  • qualitative inferences from socio-economic indicators.

It examines progress across three dimensions: transparency, citizen participation and public collaboration.

The index measures the performance of local governments based on correlations with other socio-economic data. The results obtained are designed to be used to foster debate on progress made and challenges faced during the implementation of open government initiatives at the subnational level in Brazil.

Source: Dias, T. and A. Rodrigues Gracia (2017), Document Índice Institucional de Gobierno Abierto Municipal: análisis exploratorio de las principales ciudades del Nordeste del Brasil [Institutional Index of Municipal Open Government: exploratory analysis of the principal cities in the Northeast of Brazil], presented at the VIII Congreso Internacional en Gobierno, Administración y Políticas Públicas GIGAPP held in Madrid from 25 to 28 September 2017.

Recommendations

Enhancing co-ordination and collaboration in the promotion of open government principles at national level

  • Organise regular open state meetings of the National Open Government Steering Committee (CNGA) involving all branches and independent public institutions in order to harmonise approaches and ensure a more fluid and institutionalised exchange of good practices and experiences.

  • Invite the people in charge of the open government agendas in all branches of power and in independent public institutions to participate in the Network of Open Government Contact Points, in order to facilitate the sharing of practices and experiences (see Chapter 4 on Implementation).

  • Invite Open Government Contact Points from all branches and from independent public institutions to participate in specific thematic sub-commissions of the CNGA.

  • Involve all branches of power and independent public institutions in the elaboration of a National Open Government Strategy (NOGS), to ensure that it reflects a shared vision, common objectives and a common understanding of what open government entails (see Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework).

  • Consider designing the strategy in a flexible way to allow all branches and independent public institutions to adhere to it through high-level declarations and to develop independent strategies tailored to their specific institutions’ needs while contributing to a common vision (see Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework for different options to include other branches within the strategy).

Improving the multi-level governance of open government in Argentina

  • Make strategic use of the Open Government Commission of COFEMOD as the primary space for vertical co-ordination of open government reforms.

  • Use the Commission to discuss a shared vision, share objectives and, possibly, common initiatives when designing a National Open Government Strategy.

    • Consider allowing provinces to adhere to the strategy and to develop their own Provincial Open Government Strategies that contribute to the overall objectives of the NOGS.

  • Ensure that the National Open Government Steering Committee’s agenda is fully co-ordinated and aligned with the work being done by the Open Government Commission of COFEMOD.

    • Consider giving permanent seats in the open state meetings of the National Committee to the two provinces that chair the Commission of COFEMOD.

  • Ensure a fluid exchange between the Open Government Commission of COFEMOD, the Federal Council of Transparency and the Federal Roundtables on Citizen Participation.

  • Continue supporting provinces in the development of their own open government agendas that contribute to the achievement of jointly defined national open government objectives.

  • Provide additional capacity-building support to provincial governments through the use of spaces such as Argentina Abierta and the Open Government Commission of COFEMOD.

  • Create Provincial Open Government Steering Committees that bring together all relevant actors from the provincial government with local civil society leaders, the private sector and academia, as well as the other branches of power and independent public institutions.

Fostering the involvement of municipalities in the move towards an open state

  • Foster a more integrated and holistic national government approach to open government at municipal level, including by involving municipalities in the design and implementation of the whole-of-government National Open Government Strategy.

  • Ensure that national government efforts to foster open government at municipal level are well co-ordinated with efforts being undertaken by provinces with their respective municipalities.

  • Pursue efforts to foster collaboration with municipalities through tools such as the “Ecosystem of Innovation” and the País Digital.

  • Enhance city-to-city exchanges through the proposed Network of Open Government Contact Points.

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Topouria, G. (2016), “From principles to action: A new tool for assessing parliamentary adherence to the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness”, Opening Parliament Blog, 26 July 2016, http://blog.openingparliament.org/post/147994698171/from-principles-to-action-a-new-tool-for..

Note

← 1. In fact, the Ombudsman participated in the process that led to the design of the third OGP Action Plan of Argentina. For the time being, it is not a member of the OGP Roundtable (presented in Chapter 4 on Implementation).

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