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Announcing the Global Open Data Initiative’s New Declaration on Open Data – And Inviting Your Feedback

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The Global Open Data Initiative partners are excited today to share a draft Declaration on Open Data, and would welcome comments and feedback on its contents. This post was co-authored by the Global Open Data Initiative partners, and the original can be viewed here Keyboard Open Data has enormous unfulfilled promise to change how governments work and to empower citizenship. Even as more governments and issue experts discover new potential in the public release of data, civil society groups still need clear guidelines and mechanisms for cooperation. Global Open Data Initiative hopes to help provide both, and we hope this draft declaration will help us fill that gap. By building on existing efforts to gather guidelines and best practices, and by building a clear, joint voice made up of outside groups, Global Open Data Initiative hopes to provide a CSO-led vision for how open data should work.

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Why Kenya’s open data portal is failing – and why it can still succeed

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Kenya’s open data portal is floundering. Despite the excitement that surrounded its launch in July 2011, the portal has not been updated in eight months, has seen stagnant traffic, and is quickly losing its status as the symbolic leader of open government in Africa. For a number of reasons, the portal, which runs on a Socrata platform and can be viewed here, has not lived up to the often sky-high expectations of many onlookers. Kenya portal First, government ministries have been reluctant to release data. Many observers expected that the launch of the portal would help eradicate the Kenyan government’s harmful culture of secrecy. The Official Secrets Act, a holdover from the colonial era that prevents government employees from sharing official information, has created a closed culture in government and has starved the portal of much needed information. Second, implementation of the new constitution has hamstrung government officials who are trying to adjust to new roles and identify new responsibilities, significantly reducing government officials’ ability to incorporate open data into their already overburdened workstreams. The new Kenyan constitution, which was overwhelmingly passed in a 2010 referendum, created a new devolved system of government. Large changes are still being implemented, and government officials are struggling to adjust. This inexhaustive list displays some of the large obstacles standing between the open data portal and the goals of a more transparent, accountable, and effective government. Despite these challenges, there is still hope that Kenya’s open data experiment can regain its footing and reestablish itself as an open government leader.

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In Philippines, Summer of Potential for Open Government

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As a member of the Open Government Partnership Steering Committee, the Philippines is uniquely positioned to be a highly visible leader on open government. However, the legislature’s failure to pass a freedom of the information bill has brought this role into question. So, what’s going on in the Philippines? Manila 2 In the parliament, bills on internet freedom, legislative crowdsourcing, and parliamentary openness have all been introduced this summer. The other branches of government are also turning increasingly towards technology to improve governance. All this suggests that the Philippines’ role as an open government leader may be back on track, but only if this summer’s promising work is sustained.

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Crowdsourcing to Fight Corruption: Aleksei Navalny and the RosPil Experiment

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NavalnyA few weeks ago, Russia’s most popular and controversial opposition figure, anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny, was tossed in prison on charges of conspiring to steal money from a state owned lumber corporation -- only to be set free less than a day later pending action from a higher court. The shocking turn of events has once again thrust Navalny and his campaign against public sector corruption into the global limelight. While Navalny’s legal future may occupy the headlines, we wanted to focus on Navalny’s anti-corruption website RosPil, a state procurement monitoring site where troves of government contracts and tenders are scrutinized by eager volunteers searching for signs of corruption.

Corruption is an enormous political and economic problem in Russia. Most of the corruption, which effectively cuts the country’s growth rate in half according to economists Sergey Guriyev and Oleg Tsyvinsky, is tied up in the government's procurement system. Former President Medvedev’s administration suggested that upwards of 1 trillion rubles are embezzled through the state acquisition process every year. It is this rampant corruption that Aleksei Navalny, who is well known for his brand of tech-empowered protest, is trying to stamp out.

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Mapping the Global Transparency Ecosystem: Crowdsourcing for Clarity

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In advocacy, knowing who your friends are is half the battle. With this in mind, Sunlight Foundation has gone about compiling and curating a list of international organizations working on open government issues in their own countries or regions, an effort that brings a touch of clarity to an unwieldy transparency ecosystem. The spreadsheet can be viewed here and any organization or project that is missing from the list is encouraged to fill out this brief survey. While Sunlight may be taking the lead here, we see this as a project that is by the community and for the community -- so please contribute!

After several months of gathering information from transparency-related organizations, our repository was made public in late May and was received with enthusiasm by many members of the community. Since its launch, over 40 organizations from every corner of the globe have requested that their work be included. We were happy to add them to the list and are excited to continue to hear from new organizations and new projects. We know there are a number of groups doing incredible work that are still not included on this list and we hope to hear from those organizations very soon.

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One Year of Monitoring the World’s Parliaments

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It has been just over a year since the PMO Leaders Conference convened an ever-growing community of activists working to open up their national and local parliaments. It has been a year since numerous individuals and groups participated in drafting the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness. It has been a year full of promise and success for the PMO community, but that’s not to say that we couldn’t do more to work together.

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