Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Open Government: Someone worse than us

One of the highlights of my poking into New Zealand's participation in the Open Government Partnership has been having to go to the Ombudsman to gain access to documents SSC should have released publicly to build trust in the process. But it could be worse: in Spain, they're having to go to court to see the results:

The Spanish government has launched a court case against Spain’s Transparency Council to challenge a decision that it should release documents relating to the implementation of Spain’s two Open Government Partnership action plans.

In November 2015, Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, secured a ruling from the Transparency Council that the Ministry of the Presidency should make public reports from Ministries about progress being made on Open Government Partnership commitments.

In its ruling, the Transparency Council argued that documents about Spain’s open government activities cannot be exempted as being “internal” because they are being used as the basis for taking decisions and hence are central to ensuring accountability.

The Ministry of Presidency launched the court case to challenge this and to keep the OGP-related documents secret in January 2016. The Transparency Council will defend the case and Access Info will participate as an interested party.

Spain is on the same OGP calendar as us, so getting those reports would have been part of checking their Mid-Term Self-Assessment. And going to court to cover them up speaks volumes about Spain's attitude to open government and its commitment to transparency.

Meanwhile, the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism's review of New Zealand's OGP progress so far should be going online sometime within the next two days. I'll be looking forward to reading it.