Brazil fights corruption at home as it signs Open Government Partnership with the US
Today, Brazil formally unveils its plans for the multi-country initiative, a timely move as ministers are sacked and people take to the streets to demand more transparency.
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A small business owner, Medeiros explains that after reading the article “Why don’t Brazilians React?” (which I wrote about a month ago), he and friends decided they could no longer stand around idle: "Corruption is nothing new in Brazil, it’s been around for many years and there has always been a corrupt side to life in Brazil, but this time it has reached such a proportion that it’s unacceptable. Government only reacts, it doesn’t act proactively despite media reports on corruption.”Skip to next paragraph
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Medereiro’s 31 de Julho movement illustrates that momentum for better governance need not be led exclusively by disaffected social-media driven youth.
Open Government Partnership
Meanwhile, Brazil formally unveiled its plans for the Open Government Partnership in New York today. The Minister of the Comptroller General, Jorge Hage, noted that the development of his country’s plan was a “rich process” and that “this is not the final plan… it is the beginning of a process.” The plan resembles the leaked draft I obtained two weeks ago, and makes some promising commitments for open government, including a data.gov.br website, an integrated platform for federal ombudsmen, the development of a National Open Data Plan and Data Infrastructure, and generally integrating open-data type initiatives into a host of regulatory agencies and governmental initiatives. A presidential decree issued earlier this week also creates an Inter-Ministerial Commission on Open Government, composed of the most central federal ministries. Hopefully this Commission will incorporate systemic transparency reforms into rules and regulations, rather than simply providing Gov 2.0 platforms for institutions that lack open, transparent designs to begin with.
Ironically, the first section of Brazil’s OGP commitments revolves around freedom of information, the regulation of which hinges on a bill actively being obstructed in the Senate. Last week, stalling tactics by disgraced ex-President and current Senator Fernando Collor gained the support of the President of the Senate, ex-President José Sarney. Mr. Sarney endorsed Mr. Collor’s “motion for information,” a tactic that, when approved, effectively paralyzes a bill until the information is handed over by the Executive Branch.
The President’s Office has made clear its intention to approve the law as soon as possible. Given discord between the ex-Presidents-cum-Senators on the one hand, and President Rousseff, on the other, it appears that a showdown is in the works. Rousseff initially sought to have the bill approved in May 2011, but Collor and Sarney prevented the President from making good on those intentions.
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