Tag Archives: transparency

What is the Role of the Private Sector in Open Government?

By Dr. Jong-Sung Hwang

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The Open Government Partnership has become a leading force for advancing transparency and civic engagement in 63 countries. It was founded on a strong partnership between governments and civil society organizations. Recognizing the implications of open governance for economic and democratic development, CIPE has helped to establish an independent Council for Engaging the Private Sector in the Open Government Partnership. The Council is a joint initiative coordinated by the National Information Society Agency of Korea, Microsoft, and the Center for International Private Enterprise. CIPE’s Andrew Wilson, Deputy Director for Strategic Planning, is co-chair. The Council welcomes input from private sector and other stakeholders on the future of engagement in open governance.

Dr. Jong-Sung Hwang, Head of the Korea Big Data Center at the National Information Society Agency, introduces this exciting initiative on the Open Government Partnership blog.

Open government is not a new concept. According to Wikipedia, the idea that government should be open to public scrutiny and responsive to public opinion dates back at least to the time of the Enlightenment. For decades now, the emergence of Freedom of Information legislation and  e-government initiatives have propelled a trend toward building transparent, accountable, and responsive governments.

However, open government has acquired new meaning in the 21st century, facilitated by the development of information technology. Whereas open government in the past meant access to information inside government, it now means not only access but also active sharing of information and collaborative governance between government and civil society. The distinction is that access is a one-directional relationship in which the government side opens up. In contrast, sharing implies bi- or multi-directional relationships and requires opening up and engagement by all sides.

The new version of open government, which aims for shared governance, can be named as open government 2.0. As Tim O’Reilly, advocate of Gov 2.0, puts it, open government 2.0 seeks to “redefine the relationship between citizens and government officials, engaging the citizen as a full participant rather than an observer. Citizens are not passive consumers of government services anymore. Instead, they are actively engaged in producing and delivering government services and sharing the results.

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Holding Government Accountable in Pakistan

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For the first time since its independence in 1947, Pakistan saw its first ever peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another in 2013.  While this was a remarkable success for Pakistani democracy, the country still lacked a process for holding civilian governments accountable for their electoral promises.

Working with economic think tank Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME), CIPE Pakistan initiated a project to monitor key economic promises made by the current government in its pre-election manifesto.

Through a consultative process, PRIME developed a scorecard to gauge the progress made by the government in the areas of economic revival, energy security, and social protection, focusing on 26 of the goals mentioned in the winning Pakistan Muslim League’s pre-election manifesto. Scores are based on a possible 10 points in each category, with the most thorough implementation earning the most points.

The first Scorecard report released on January 27 shows that the average score for the economic revival is 3.17 out of 10, energy security scored 4.16, and social protection scored 6. This report covered the period between June 2013-December 2013.

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The Future of the Anti-Corruption Movement

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“Corruption was a taboo word in 1996. My advisors were worried about using the c-word in my speech.”

Nearly 20 years have passed since the former World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, gave his groundbreaking speech on the “cancer of corruption” at the World Bank’s 1996 Annual Meetings. And the anti-corruption movement has come a long way.

At the World Bank’s discussion Speak Up Against Corruption, which featured Wolfensohn; Dr. Jim Kim, World Bank Group President; Paul Volcker, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve; Cesar Purisima, Secretary Finance of the Philippines; and Haguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International, the panelists reflected on how much work there remains to fight corruption at the international and local levels.

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Why Transparency Matters for Emerging Market Companies

Markets thrive on transparency. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Markets thrive on transparency. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies now come from emerging markets. But according to a recent report, these companies lag behind their more established peers in transparency — a handicap that could prevent them from becoming true global leaders in their fields.

Looking at 100 large multinational companies from 16 emerging market countries, Transparency International found an average transparency score of just 3.6 out of 10. A 2012 report on the world’s largest companies using the same methodology found an average score of 4.7. And while only one in five of the emerging-market multinationals had a transparency score above 5.0, just under half of the largest companies did.

These results should be deeply concerning for the executives of these companies, their investors, and the governments and citizens of countries where they operate.

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Opening Up the Private Sector

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OpenCorporates, a UK-based enterprise founded by  Chris Taggart and Rob McKinnon, was created with a simple yet ambitious  goal in mind: to have a web page for every company in the world. How would one go about it? OpenCorporates started with taking a closer look at the basic source of information on companies registered in any given country – that country’s corporate registry.

While in principle corporate registries are a part of the official public record and should be easily accessible to the public, in practice that is not always the case. Some countries have registries that are non-searchable or very difficult to search; some require registration and/or payment to search the registry; some carry a licence that explicitly prohibits the reuse of data. The quality and depth of available data also varies. Some registries are incomplete and out of date. Many provide only very basic information that contains no statutory filings or information about directors and significant shareholders, which does not allow for establishing beneficial ownership.

OpenCorporates, with support from The World Bank Institute through its Open and Collaborative Private Sector initiative, set out to change that through establishing the Open Company Data Index. The idea came out of the Open Government Partnership meeting in Brasilia in 2012 and OpenCorporates has since  explored over 100 registers to score the access to data and the ability to reuse that data for over 70 countries around the world. Chris Taggart and WBI’s Benjamin Herzberg explained how the index works and why it is important at a lively event on Monday at the OpenGovHub in Washington, DC.

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Approaches to Collective Action: How Businesses Together Can Lead the Fight Against Corruption

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Corruption is a direct threat to a country’s democratic emergence and an obstacle to a country’s democratic development. In Thailand, for example, corruption was the stated justification for the military’s ousting of an elected government in 2006 and the Supreme Court’s sacking of another elected government in 2008. Competing allegations of corruption were the main drivers of nation-crippling unrest in the country.

In Thailand, as in other new and struggling democracies across the globe, if democracy is to mature and fully take root, more is required than just the ability to vote.

In countries including Russia, Thailand, Columbia and Serbia, CIPE is helping the private sector mobilize to take proactive steps to reduce corruption. These programs demonstrate the transformative impact that private sector Collective Action can have on a country’s fight against corruption.

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Improving Transparency and Integrity in Kosovo’s Public Procurement

Panelists at a Riinvest public procurement conference in 2011. (Photo: CIPE)

Panelists at a Riinvest public procurement conference in 2012. (Photo: Riinvest)

In February this year, Kosovo celebrated  five years since its declaration of independence. The new country is working to establish a viable democracy with well-governed institutions conducive to economic development and prosperity. Persistent corruption, weak rule of law, and poor quality of public institutions have undermined Kosovo’s reform efforts and sewn distrust in the government among citizens. Much of this is due to the political system that condones patronage relationships between politicians and business cronies who rely on weak institutions to secure control of the economy.

At the core of the problem is lack of accountability within government agencies and limited mechanisms for oversight by civil society and the private sector. Public procurement tenders, for instance, are awarded based on privilege and political loyalty rather than free and fair competition. Furthermore, government employees in charge of managing public tenders are left unaccountable for their flawed decisions and the resultant inefficiencies and corruption. In order to dismantle this crony system, Kosovo’s civil society and private sector need to take action to bring greater transparency and accountability to the public procurement process.

Since public tenders make up roughly one fifth of Kosovo’s GDP, it is crucial to strengthen the management of public funds and build a transparent and accountable implementation system that guarantees fair competition for everyone in the private sector. CIPE and its partner, the Riinvest Institute for Development Research, a leading think tank in Kosovo, have been working since 2011 to address the weaknesses in the public procurement process.

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