The WJP Open Government Index in LAC
The World Justice Project Open Government Index was recently released in an effort to measure government openness based on the general public’s experiences and perceptions worldwide. It presentes scores and rankings for 102 countries organized around four dimensions: Publicized laws and government data, Right to information, Civic participation, Complaint mechanisms.
Scoring for the Index was drawn from more than 100,000 household surveys and in-country expert questionnaires (you can see more of the methodology here). In addition to global, regional, and income-peer scores and rankings, the WJP Open Government Index interactive data site displays selected survey responses by country, with gender and socio-economic breakouts:
- Socio-Economic Status: In 80% of countries low-income respondents are less aware than high-income households of their right to information. In 68% of countries low-income respondents are less likely to request information from the government.
- Open Government and Gender: In 76% of countries women are as likely as men to request information from a government agency. However, in half of all countries surveyed, women tend to be less aware than men of laws supporting their right to access government-held information.
- Awareness: Worldwide, less than half (40%) of survey respondents know of any laws supporting their right to access government-held information.
The index measures opennees with a 0 to 1 score where 1 represents more openness. In the Latin America and Caribbean region, Chile (with a score of 0.68), Costa Rica (0.68) and Uruguay (0.68) ranked as the top three countries with a more open government according to the four indicators above. The table shows the scores and global ranking of all the countries in the region that were included in the ranking. The Dominican Republic (0.52) and Jamaica (0.51) are in the middle of the regional ranking, being the only Caribbean countries represented. The three countries with a lowest score are Bolivia (0.45), Nicaragua (0.44) and Venezuela (0.38).
The top three overall performers in the WJP Open Government Index 2015 are Sweden (0.81), New Zealand (0.81), and Norway (0.81); the bottoms three are Myanmar (0.32), Uzbekistan (0.32), and Zimbabwe (0.32). Regional leaders also included India (S. Asia), Georgia (E. Europe & Central Asia); South Africa (Sub-Saharan Africa); Chile (Latin America & Caribbean); and Tunisia (Middle East & North Africa). The United Kingdom, which usually ranks first when assessed in terms of open data or electronic government, ranks in number 7 on a global level with a score of 0.74 when considering all four factors of this index. The United States ranks in 11th place with a score of 0.73.
The WJP Open Government Index and the OGP
An interesting aspect of this index is that it also takes OGP membership as a factor to analyze if this influences a government’s level of openness. An accompanying report (PDF) provides global insights on the relationship between open government and other aspects of governance and development. You can read more about this aspect of the index on Alejandro Ponce’s blogpost, in which he explains:
In our report, we compared Open Government Partnership member versus non-member countries and found that OGP participation indeed linked to more transparent, participatory, and accountable government in practice.
The Index data has two major and related findings on the relationship between Open Government Partnership and open government practices. First: for all levels of economic development, OGP members rank significantly higher on open government outcomes than non-OGP countries. Second: longer membership in the OGP contributes to higher levels of open government outcomes.