During the second half of 2013, Red Gealc has been developing an OAS-led project specifically focused on open government including a research component with the participation of the specialists Oscar Oszlak and Esther Kaufman.
Within that framework, a GovCamp was held in Montevideo with the participation of e-government agencies, NGOs, international organizations and the academic sector. The documents that analyze the concept and plans of action of the countries of the region presented before the Open Government Partnership are being produced.
But this is not a new approach to our job: Open Government and the network Red Gealc have worked jointly from the beginning. And it has been so since Red Gealc was born, boosted in the regional seminar “E-Government Capacity Building” in Santiago on November 17 to 21, 2003 at the invitation of the government of Chile and sponsored by the OAS and the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas, which was part of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada.
In the conceptual materials of the event, it was already established that “the use of e-Government aims at promoting the nearness between the State and citizens, creating transparency and efficiency in the activities of public services”.
Not only are the exchange of experiences, horizontal cooperation, and training through a set of specially developed courses at the OAS virtual campus promoted from Red Gealc. That situation of joint work is the starting point for more advanced ideas seeking to make e-government to move on to a new phase.
For example, the first edition of the prizes to e-government excellence, ExcelGOV Awards took place in 2007. The IDRC, the OAS and the IDB award prizes within the sphere of Red Gealc to the best e-government solutions on transparency and citizen participation.
The Secretary General of the OAS expressed in that opportunity the “democratic governance in Latin America and the Caribbean finds two fundamental pillars in the transparency of the public sector as well as in the mechanisms provided so that citizens can participate in public interest matters. This is why the ExcelGOV Awards have chosen these two sectors to acknowledge outstanding governments of Latin America and the Caribbean in the use of the technological tools offered by the knowledge society aiming at higher transparency operations and promoting more participation from the public sector”.
And coming even closer to the open government, in agreement with the OAS, the IDRC and the consensus of the member States, in 2009 Red Gealc starts working bearing in mind the "citizen-centred e-government".
The articulation between the research component —coordinated by the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education— and the public policy component —coordinated by the OAS— showed the empirical evidence resulting from research at the service of the development of national and regional agendas to make e-Government progress “as a tool to improve equity regarding access to public services, the participation of citizens during the preparation of public policies, transparency of State actions, as well as the legitimacy of the democratic governability processes”.
Likewise, both from sea level lands and from the presidential summits, the region created a consensus and an “opinion status” that promoted —making it become a natural thing— the fact that Latin America plays a leading role and offers a fast-growing support to the principles of the Open Government Partnership.
(Translation: Laura Barzilai)