U.S., Brazil promise more transparency, accountability during launch of Open Government Partnership

The United States and Brazil on Tuesday, Sept. 20, in New York launched a transparency initiative for open government, reported the Epoch Times. Called the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the initiative includes 46 governments around the world and is an effort to support "national efforts to promote transparency, fight corruption, strengthen accountability, and empower citizens," according a fact sheet from the White House.

Co-chaired by the U.S. and Brazil, the partnership was announced in July in Washington, D.C. As part of the partnership, the U.S. released an action plan and said it will unveil an online tool to allow citizens to petition the White House directly, and will implement rules governing transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors.

Brazil will launch the Brazil Open Data Portal, in order to "converge to the appropriate environment for future enactment of the Access to Information Law," UPI reported.

Still, despite leading this transparency effort, neither the Obama administration nor Brazil has the most stellar record when it comes to open government -- Brazil has not even been able to push through a freedom of information law, and a report from the American Civil Liberties Union says that the U.S. government has reached “unparalleled levels of secrecy,” according to the Project on Government Oversight.

Politico ironically noted that during State Department briefings on Monday, officials insisted that the meetings be off the record, despite reporters' objections.

"Has it struck anyone as odd to [hold] a briefing about open government and transparency on background?" one journalist asked during the session, as Politico reported. "Why is that necessary?"

"Just so you understand this, we have to explain why officials are speaking anonymously," a flabbergasted reporter said. "To write a story talking about U.S. officials anonymously plugging an Obama initiative for open government just – it makes – I’m sorry."

A second meeting of the Open Government Partnership will be held March 5th and 6th, 2012, in Brazil, at which time the participant countries are expected to endorse the Open Government Declaration.

Other Related Headlines:
» Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (White House releases report on government transparency)
» Christian Science Monitor (Brazil fights corruption at home as it signs Open Government Partnership with the US)