I am part of an international project called "42 Voices About Open Government". The Catalan version was presented at the Mobile World Centre in Barcelona on April 10, 2014, with the participation of the Catalan writer Màrius Serra, who conducted the event. The English and Spanish versions will be coming (before summer). The Catalan version is available for download. Read more about the growing wealth gap in the US.
Australia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, New Zealand, Tunesia, France and Ireland are the seven newest countries to announce their commitment join the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Tunisia is the first "Arab Spring" country to join, setting an example across the Arab world. Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are increasingly frequent visitors to my blog. The Open Government Data & Best Practices Symposium, which was organized by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) at the InterContinental Hotel Muscat, Oman, ended on June 3, 2013 with high participation. More than 200 attendees from a wide range of public and private institutions participated alongside an international participation of a number of lecturers from Spain, Sweden and Malaysia, as well as a number of IT specialists from ITA. When a majority of the Arab Spring countries join, it will indicate a new era in digital diplomacy. As such, my blog will focus on demilitarizing law enforcement, arms control and nuclear disarmament, and ending the war on terror. Since 9/11, Americans killed by law enforcement outnumber Americans killed in the Iraq war. President Obama's counterterrorism strategy boils down to: targeted action against terrorists; effective partnerships with other countries; and diplomatic engagement and aid. In my humble opinion, these changes can not come too soon. The U.S. government has lost all sense of proportion when it comes to national security. War has cost the U.S. $1.4 trillion since 2001. We must be mindful of Madison: "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare".
The recent changes in the White House suggest a stronger focus on human rights. President Obama named Susan E. Rice and Samantha Power to major national security posts on June 5, promoting two outspoken voices for humanitarian intervention on a foreign policy team known for its deep caution in dealing with conflicts abroad. According to a recent New York Times article "Ms. Samantha Power and Ms. Susan Rice, who are friends, each bring their own anguished histories to these questions. For Ms. Power, who covered the wars of the former Yugoslavia as a journalist, Bosnia was a formative experience. In her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “A Problem From Hell,” she recorded the history of genocide in the 20th century, offering a critique of the failure of the United States and other countries to stop it. For Ms. Rice, who began her career in the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, Rwanda was a crucible. President Bill Clinton’s inaction in the face of genocide there led people who worked for him, including Ms. Rice, to vow never again to allow such a slaughter." I am hopeful that these changes, in addition to the rise of the digital citizen and the OGP, will usher in a new era of global cooperation and peace. Rwanda became the 71st country to sign the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs Arms Trade Treaty on June 5. On Sept. 25, 2013 US Secretary of State John Kerry signed the treaty.
The music industry and civil society as a whole are helping to highlight instances of human rights abuse in the U.S. and abroad. Kanye West raps about the private prison industry, Sean "Diddy" Combs and the WWE have produced an anti-bullying youtube, and hip-hop icon Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, joins the fight to explore the injustice as only he can. "Re-Victimization" is a great way to discuss government cover-ups and "mobbing". The victim must go through the pain again and again, with no resolution until (and if) it gets into the courts, which is another long battle. Appointing third party investigators, deciding official who are not managers/chain of command, and interim relief supervisors during internal investigations is the best approach for all involved, maximizing the likelihood of early intervention and resolution. Retaliation and government cover-ups don't work in the age of social media. Broken internal processes also contribute to an increasing number of leaks to the press. In addition, it is unlawful to prohibit or prevent a government employee from talking to Congress. Using the Congressional processes in parallel with internal investigations is key in that they provide a necessary level of external oversight missing in the internal processes, which are consistently manipulated in favor of the institutions. Peter Ludlow, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, argues in a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times that "there is a moral principle at work in the actions of the leakers, whistle-blowers and hacktivists and...that that moral principle has been clearly articulated, and it may just save us from a dystopian future."
Many victims of sexual assault in the military say only one experience comes close to the pain of the actual crime, and that's going to court to bring charges against the attacker. This is believed to be one reason why so few victims come forward and report these crimes, and now the Air Force is hoping a new team of lawyers will help to change that. Lt. Gen. Richard Harding has high hopes for the officers who have come to his base for training in a new field; they are among the first special victims' counsels, or SVCs. The SVCs are attorneys who do not represent the defendant, and they don't represent the government — they will stand up for the victims. "We know 85 percent of our victims don't report," he says. "Maybe if they understood the value of an SVC, some of them might feel a little bit more comfortable about reporting." That's the long-term hope for the Special Victims' Counsel program, which is currently limited to the Air Force but could expand to other government agencies and cover issues such as child abuse, harassment and whistleblowing. The immediate goal is to train around 50 lawyers who will help victims get through the legal process. Should government officials and executives in companies that receive federal funding who engage in unlawful violations face discipline? See here for a few answers. Government officials who resign or retire before an investigation ends can still be handed a reprimand and a demotion in rank that would result in reduced retirement benefits.
The White House is highlighting mental illness, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies, and is providing a range of healthcare solutions and online resources for our collective dysfunction. The Sunlight Foundation has compiled a repository of civil society organizations working on transparency and open data issues around the world. Given the rapid growth of the international OpenGov community, the data collection is endless and the repository will never be considered complete. They are now opening up the process and asking for the community’s help in verifying or correcting the data in the spreadsheet and adding missing organizations or projects. I would love to see one of the civil society organizations tackle the problem of entering the 60+ country action plans' commitments into a database like PostgreSQL to see if there are any opportunities for coordination between countries and economies of scale. What have we learned about budget transparency and accountability? The International Budget Partnership (IBP) has published a new book on Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability.
As we transition to a focus on reinvigorating the global economy, citizen engagement and revolutionary ideas become increasingly important. Add your Tweet to the Storify slideshow "Crowdfunding from A to Z". Join the LinkedIn "Open Government" group and the "Disruption" group on Facebook. Read the "Open Contracting" global principles. Learn about the OpenGov Hub and Pierre Landell-Mills, co-founder of the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF), who presented his new book Citizens Against Corruption - Report from the Frontline on June 13. Apply for an OpenGov grant from the Sunlight Foundation. Help the Open Data Census assess the current state. Participate in the first Wiki-bill, an effort to reform California's probate laws. Learn about open policy making. Follow the Top 50 Social CEOs on Twitter. Here is the #Storify story from the OGP Summit October 31 - November 1, 2013. Congratulations to Jennifer Pahlka as the newly appointed Deputy CTO for Government Innovation under U.S. CTO Todd Park. The Clayton Christensen Institute introduced a new disruption concept called ‘hybrid innovation' that seems tailor made for government. Ross Dawson has developed a Beta v1 infographic on the future of work given the crowdsourcing boom, and the transformation of government given the current landscape. In the age of the consumer web, smartphones and social media must be an integral part of any government interaction and redesigning work environments will be key to achieving sustainable business performance improvement. Here is a recent Wired article on "The Programmable World". My latest conundrum: is the world itself programmable? Let's find out.
How many doors to democracy would open if a few of the "Big Brands" like Coca Cola and Procter & Gamble, and the first OGP countries like the US and the UK, would implement internal policies and executive orders to allow for the exponential growth of social media and crowdsourcing? Although 2+ billion people are now online, there are still 2/3 of the world left out. I am gratified to see an increasing number of companies and government entities allowing for unrestricted staff access to social media during working hours. This is one of the best ways to fight corruption worldwide. Here is a roundup of the recent G8 Summit 2013 in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland on June 17 and 18, addressing global issues and the most pressing international challenges. The leaders' remarks explain the outcomes in brief, including major updates on tax, trade, transparency and the ongoing situation in Syria. Here are a few "Apps for Humanity" crowdfunding ideas. Goal: raise the US Global Peace Index ranking to the Top 50 by 2015. Disrupt violence. From a recent OGP blog post:
Open is the new normal. - UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
@meganesque My head just exploded :) - Thanks!— Andrew Wilson (@AndrewPWilson) June 4, 2013