Arlington, VA (August 18, 2016) – On Thursday, August 11, 2016, the Government of Guatemala adopted the 2016-2018 Open Government Action Plan. Hosted at the National Palace in Guatemala City, the roundtable event was attended by President Jimmy Morales, Vice-President Jafeth Cabrera and representatives of all 14 cabinet ministries. With generous support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Counterpart International was instrumental in the development of the Action Plan, bringing together six leading Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from Guatemala to form the CSO Network for Open Government, and facilitating dialogue with representatives from the Guatemalan Executive branch, the Office of the Comptroller General, the Ombudsman’s Office, Congress, and others.
The resulting Action Plan represents a road map for the adoption of concrete actions by the Guatemalan government in order to advance citizen participation, government accountability, and transparency.
“We want to get closer to the citizens in their national and local activities. Open government is a tool for change to have a Guatemala free from corruption…We appreciate USAID for their decisive support through Counterpart International for the development of the Open Government Action of Guatemala Action Plan.”
—Jimmy Morales, President of Guatemala
This is the first time that a wide representation of Guatemalan government agencies and civil society organizations have worked together and come to a consensus on critical open government strategies. The Action Plan seeks to positively impact the quality of life of citizens by improving efficiency and transparency in the provision of basic public services, such as health, education and justice, among other priorities.
Noting the significance of the adoption of this Plan and the months of collaboration that went into its creation, President Morales stressed, “I ask everyone not to stop here with this first step, but that we continue working together, just as we initiated this path, so that in 22 months from now we can look back and say: mission accomplished… I would like to ask [civil society] that we do not distance ourselves from each other. This is the moment in which we all need to continue working together.”
The Action Plan was drafted as part of Guatemala’s commitment to the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The OGP is a multilateral initiative aiming to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. While a group of civil society organizations was involved in the development of the 2014 – 2016 Action Plan, civil society in Guatemala at large had extremely limited participation or knowledge about the initiative. Furthermore, CSOs did not have a robust role in the implementation of the commitments set under the previous Action Plan, partially as a result of a lack of coordination among civil society organizations to effectively advocate for its implementation. Counterpart successfully revitalized the process through the creation of the CSO Network for Open Government and ensured that civil society worked hand-in-hand with the new administration and other state institutions to design the two-year Open Government Plan, while keeping the CSO community at large abreast on the status of the process.
In order to best support this effort, CSO representatives from Guatemala were given the opportunity to participate in regional OGP events in Uruguay and El Salvador to exchange experiences, lessons learned, and best practices in the design, monitoring, and implementation of Open Government Action Plans, and forge partnerships to advance common open government initiatives. Angel Ramírez, the Coordinator of the CSO Network for Open Government, thanked both Counterpart International and the Government of Guatemala for their efforts, noting, “The Government of Guatemala and Civil Society Organizations worked arduously to reach our expected results in the most efficient manner… Counterpart has provided significant technical assistance and mentoring support to the entire Open Government Partnership through a USAID-funded project.”
Additional event attendees on August 11 included Supreme Justice Rafael Rojas, President of the Supreme Court; Marco Tulio Coronado, representative of the President of Congress; Carlos Mencos, Comptroller General; Violeta Mazariegos, representative of the Ombudsman’s Office; more than a 100 representatives of all three branches of government; other public sector entities; international cooperation agencies; civil society organizations; and the media.
Counterpart International helps people build better lives and more durable futures, community by community. For 50 years, Counterpart has been an innovator, changing the way people look at, and solve, global development challenges. This year alone, Counterpart is working with 150,000 leaders – including women and youth – and more than 3,000 local organizations in 25 countries around the world.