An innovative commitment in Buenos Aires has the potential to disclose massive amounts of local government data - and shine a light on corruption. As one of OGP’s fifteen Subnational Pioneers, Buenos Aires is at the forefront of a movement that brings inclusive government to the municipal level. One of the milestones in Buenos Aires’ commitment to “Transparent Functions in an Open Government” seeks a co-created plan for openness in the judicial system and legislature. One component of this commitment intends to set up performance indicators for courts and publicize the results of those measurements.
A thick vein of corruption runs through Argentinean politics. Ties between government officials and private sector businessmen in Argentina frequently result in graft, favors and kickbacks - eroding trust in government among ordinary citizens. In August, a member of former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government was caught in a convent outside Buenos Aires with $9 million in cash and luxury watches stuffed into two duffel bags, just months before charges against Ms. Kirchner herself were announced. A justice in a separate case against Ms. Kirchner was removed from the case, due to his close ties with the presidency. Such relationships between the judiciary and politicians perceived as corrupt can taint the public’s view of an impartial justice system. As the capital, Buenos Aires is often the focus of these stories about corruption, but is seeking to revolutionize its government by making it open, participatory, and accountable. Opening up the work of the judiciary is part of that plan.
Buenos Aires has been a laboratory for open government reforms for some time, starting in 1998 as one of the first cities to have a local freedom of information law, and continuing to this day, with its own dedicated open data portal and collaborating with the national OGP team. As Buenos Aires implements Milestone 2, there are several intended outputs for the Magistracy of the City: opening up three data sets each trimester of the year, including data on resolutions, agreements, budgets, contracts, procurement, and more; as well as posting results in the “measurable and participatory judicial management program” every three months, including analysis of results and proposals for improvements
For the High Court of Justice in Buenos Aires, the outputs are similar: creation of an open data website within the first three months of implementation, and the opening at least three data sets for every trimester thereafter, including High Court resolutions and electoral data. Sentencing information, electoral data, and other publications of the High Court of Justice will be published in open formats and coded to the standard of international best practices.
As these milestones are implemented, the government of Buenos Aires and civil society organizations involved hope to shine a light on the actions of the judiciary, as well as restore trust in a system that many view as broken.