A policy brief by Natalia Aquilino (Director), Emiliano Arena (Coordinator) and Lucía De Zan (Analyst) of the CIPPEC Monitoring and Evaluation Programme. 

This policy brief attempts to understand in more depth how different countries, at the national and subnational levels, have published information related to the development of the COVID-19 pandemic over time, and present generalised conclusions and recommendations to improve OGD in federal countries of Latin America. First, it presents the case studies (Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico) and the OGD principles that are being compared among them and measured: accessibility, disaggregation, timeliness, and reusability.

Second, it measures each country’s performance at the national and sub-national levels: i) by comparing each country’s performance amongst the other case study countries and ii) by comparing the performance of each case study country at the national and subnational level against a high performing federal country of the Global North–in this study, being Canada. In doing this, it identified different government strategies and challenges. Lastly, it aims to address some of the main issues surrounding the transparency of governments, as well as their direct impact on some key points underscored in the OCA report, by providing policy recommendations for reducing OGD asymmetries.

Key messages:

  • High-quality open government data (OGD) strengthens transparency and vertical accountability. The result is improved decision-making and citizens’ enhanced trust in state institutions, which are crucial to reach a ‘renewal of the social contract,’ as proposed in the UN Secretary- General’s our common agenda (OCA) report. 
  • Data collected in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico revealed that the quality of OGD regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus varied among national and subnational governments across the region (in terms of accessibility, timeliness, disaggregation, and reusability) due to the lack of standardised criteria and variations in state capacities for the collection, systematisation and publication of data. 
  • Overall, Argentina and Mexico national states performed better than the average of their subnational counterparts, while Brazil experienced the opposite. The analysis showed that these governments had a better performance on data accessibility and timeliness than they did in terms of data reusability and disaggregation. 
  • Attaining established OGD standards may not be possible for governments that do not have the infrastructure needed to collect, systematise, and publish information. Enhancing multilateral collaboration to develop open data frameworks is crucial to achieving standardisation in information publication. 
  • To strengthen trust in governments and institutions, it is crucial to maintain high standards of integrity in OGD. Standardised and rigorous data monitoring and evaluation by external bodies need to be pursued to ensure integrity. 

Click here to access the policy brief on the Southern Voice website.