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A Peek at Brazil's Open Government Plans

BY Nick Judd | Monday, September 12 2011

Greg Michener, an observer of open government and transparency in Latin America, says he's got his hands on documents that show Brazil's tentative plans for commitments on open government it will meet in the following year.

Here are the moves Michener says Brazil is planning to commit to making:

a) A yet-to-be-enacted freedom of information law (read on).

b) Upgrades to the federal government’s Transparency Portal.

c) Events and interactions with the NGO and private sectors.

d) The integration of ombudsmen and participatory mechanisms into federal institutions and training programs.

e) A plan to be unveiled in March, 2012, for a “National Infrastructure on Open Data”[1] including a portal and accompanying IT contracting regulation.

f) A better integration and upgrade of current IT platforms to increase civic participation.

g) Providing data on government contractors and suppliers.

Brazil is co-chair with the United States in the Open Government Partnership, a multilateral effort by countries and non-governmental organizations to make and meet commitments on open government, transparency, and participatory government. The participating countries are encouraged to use technology to further each of a set of goals laid out on its website. Eight current members of the partnership are expected to make announcements later this month, around the convening of the U.N. General Assembly, to outline shared principles as well as indiviual plans from each country. It's also been reported that a host of new countries have written letters of intent to join the partnership; their membership is expected to be announced en masse during the event.

Michener is critical of Brazil's proposal, writing that their approach is to stand up some "boutique" government 2.0 initiatives that would make sense in a different democracy, but not in Brazil:

The danger with the OGP lies herein: emulating the government 2.0 initiatives of advanced countries, such as the U.S. or the U.K., may be a premature strategy for emerging democracies. While the advanced democracies are tweaking and advancing value-systems and infrastructure already in place, most countries within the OGP are still only beginning the adoption process.

Why boutique? "Because of their limited scope and their uneven performance and operability," Michener explains in the post, where he offers his own suggestions about where Brazil should focus efforts around openness and transparency. More at Michener's blog, Observing Brazil.