Open Government Partnership

We will talk more fully about Open Government and Government 2.0 in a few weeks, but I did want to raise (in the nature of transparency) and also as it is very germane to this module, that Ireland joined the global Open Government Partnership earlier this year. The Department of Public Reform and Expenditure officially signed a memorandum of understanding and has subsequently employed Transparency International Ireland to carry out a public consultation to engage with Civil Society. I provide this as background and invite you to follow along. How do we effectively cultivate engagement between wider society and the state when it comes to reform movements? What can be learned from the Seanád referendum experience?

11 thoughts on “Open Government Partnership”

  1. What can be learned from the Seanád referendum experience?
    Well on this one I think it’s fair to say a portion, maybe even a majority of the
    people who voted no don’t approve of Enda Kenny. I am ashamed to say we have a
    leader to who is afraid to debate and a leader who thought so little of the
    citizens of this country that he refused to debate

    On the reform movements, I think we have to change the way it’s
    handled. Perhaps the government should not be calling referendums but a body of
    the people who have nothing to gain other than serving their country

  2. I hope that the Seanad No vote
    was less to do with Enda Kenny’s lack of participation (which was very poor) and
    more that people were rebelling against the lack of debate on the potential
    reform of the Seanad or an alternative. If so it’s a good sign and hopefully
    one that will lead to more civil participation as government (hopefully) opens
    up.

    The move towards Open Government
    has great potential. There’s a lot in the report on the consultation that’s
    going back to government, including recommendations for the introduction of
    citizens’ initiatives which would, for example, see citizens becoming involved
    in the budgeting process or allowing citizens to initiate a referendum and/or propose
    or oppose legislation. It all sounds good but surely would involve a lot of
    administration in itself and needs to be subject to its own checks and balances
    to prevent its misuse/manipulation.

    As I live in Fingal I was
    interested to see that Fingal County Council is involved and it seems to have done
    a lot of work in making itself more transparent (not that I could see myself
    sitting through webcasts of meetings but it’s great that the information is out
    there for everyone.…).

  3. I have to agree with Kevin and Emma. Enda needed to come out and debate. Fine Gael made a right pigs ear out of the whole referendum. If the leaders of the country were seen to take a walk in the shoes of their constituents then maybe they might gain more respect.
    Perhaps they should give their communications and PR people a week off every now and again and converse like normal people without being stage managed. Common sense has a lot to do with it and PR companies don’t get paid for common sense, they only get paid to spin.
    The whole political system needs a shakeup. We need more O’Neill and Keane and not more of the Trap and Tardelli. Actually Trap was better at communicating than Enda Kenny.
    Why would the government not bring private sector experts into the Dail and show them how to run a lean system. I’d sure if Michael O’Leary had a free reign in Finance for a few weeks he might trim more fat without cutting the front line services. Maybe this argument is too simplistic but the government system needs to change.

  4. I found it fascinating to see posters from a mainstream political party advocating the abolition of the Seanad with the words “fewer politicians” as an incentive. It put me in mind of hamsters eating their own. Probably not the response they were looking for but then neither was the outcome.

  5. How did I miss this? Apologies for weighing in so late but I was quite disappointed with the poor turnout for the referendum, people have been complaining about the Seanad for years! I do understand people wanted an option of reform, but I’ve always been off the opinion that if you don’t vote then you don’t have the right to complain. But with the recent increase in protests or perhaps its my increased awareness of people standing up against their governments I’m beginning to think that voting is losing its purpose… They’re all the same party now! The idea of transparency is wonderful, I think that a lot of governmental information should be made available and accessible to the citizens. Now I’m not saying that i’d trawl through all that information, but a lot of people would; why? Well to disclose the corruption, get the story and damn their competition. There needs to be more than engagement with citizens and focus groups; there needs to be a proper commitment to reform; and I think that must start with goal that will serve citizens needs and not the politicians.

  6. The current government has bitterly disappointed me on so many fronts, but mostly on the rollback of promised reforms to how government works and interacts with citizens. In fact I believe Ireland has fallen down a few notches on the transparency index?.
    This og exercise does seem like a move in the right direction – we need council meeting minutes in the public domain but the webcasts are a great first move – we must be encouraging. There have been some retrograde moves lately that seem to restrict info instead of freeing it (anyone remember SOPA?!) but I do think at times this is more due to blundering ignorance than nefarious intent. The constitutional convention which directly allows citizens to debate our statehood and changes that are needed to it is also a good move.
    Because there is plenty to frustrate! The Seanad referendum looked like the government was completely out of step with public opinion and really if ever there was an illustration of how archaic those ‘old media’ polls were this was it. It was like someone writing the blogs but never checking the comments. I was pleased to see the people turn out (all 5 of them) and defeat what was a disgraceful referendum given the degradation of the institution of the Dail. If your house is sinking, better to look to the foundations than take off the roof!
    We shall see where to next – to be honest I suspect that the government-citizen relationship has become so fractured that little will be achieved on OG other than the glossy reports. But I really want to be wrong on this

    1. This government or any government disappoints. I do think that the Irish people are more on top recognising the corruption that happens within the walls or outside the walls of the Dail than some countries do (ie America) but I feel that Irish people spend too much time complaining than actually doing something about corruption.

      1. Thats an interesting viewpoint from someone not living here all his life – I wouldn’t have thought that we were on top of recognising corruption – that’s really interesting to hear. I was trying to find the exact quote but some years ago an out-going American ambassador’s wife was asked about her time in Ireland and her insights on it and she said that the irish people are a very forgiving people, in regard I think to the way they are basically abused by their own government. Pity I cant find the exact reference – it was kind of sad actually…we get what we vote for 🙁

    2. I think that the problem with a lot of this is that there’s a very strong desire in public life to avoid accountability. The webcasts are all well and good (though I’d nearly be happy enough with transcripts, at least until video’s easier to search), but I think there’s a strong desire to duck and cover to avoid accountability. This would be manifested by the idea of systemic failures – essentially, there’s so many people responsible that no individual can be held to account, and therefore no-one takes the fall.

      Couple that with a desire to be seen to provide accountability, while removing access to it in the implementation, and I’d be very surprised if Open Government told us anything more than pre-approved soundbites.

  7. Open government is a wonderful idea and I for one I’m a supporter. For far too long the governments of the world have carried on their business behind closed doors creating self serving governments of secrecy and manipulation rather than governments serving the needs of the people with openness and consultation. Governments need to be open and accountable regarding what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. We might not like what they do but it helps if you understand the reasons behind their actions.

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