Points of View 14th April 2015

Faces of the UK Open Government Network – Claire Schouten, International Budget Partnership

by Josephine Suherman-Bailey

Josephine was a Policy Analyst at Involve. She worked on the Open Government Partnership and supported the coordination of the UK Open Government Partnership civil society network.

Open government can be an abstract idea. We want to give people a better idea of what it is, and who is in the UK Open Government Civil Society Network. We’ve asked some existing members of the network to give us their thoughts on what open government means to them, why it’s important, where they have seen open government make a difference to the lives of citizens, and the reforms they would ask of government.

We’ll be publishing a series of profiles of members of the network every few weeks, so keep a lookout! Our fifth blog is Claire Schouten, International Budget Partnership.

Claire Schouten, International Budget Partnership

Claire Schouten photo 2

To me, open government means strengthening the social contract. It means transparency and inclusiveness in governance, ensuring accountability in how resources are generated, allocated and delivered to the benefit of all people.

Open government is in the interests of government, civil society and business in catalyzing greater openness and public engagement as a means to activate citizenship and improve the quality of life.

Through my work, particularly in resource-rich countries, I have seen many citizens using budget and contract information to hold government and contractors accountable, helping to resolve identified problems in infrastructure and service delivery, which has led to better schools, clinics, roads and water projects.  Building relationships of openness and trust has genuinely improved people’s lives.

The one reform I would ask of government to achieve open government is to make budgets transparent and participatory in the UK and globally.  We’d like to see the UK lead on budget participation, providing opportunities for citizens to engage at all stages of the budget cycle.   We’ve included this call in the Open Government Manifesto and welcome the opportunity to help advance transparency, accountability and participation. http://www.opengovmanifesto.org.uk/ideas/government-should-lead-on-budget-participation-by-end-of-2015