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PARLIAMENTARY PERFORMANCE AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGY


methods, these groups often offer alerted services that enabled real time and automatic access to spe- cific information sought by citizens on issues they cared about. • 2.6: PMOs often faced chal- lenges in accessing parliamentary information in formats that allowed the data to be easily reused. The Study Group recommended that Parliaments reviewed the “open data” principles contained in the Declara- tion on Parliamentary Openness to reduce the barriers faced by PMOs in making information available to citizens in formats that they found useful. It was noted that adoption of these openness principles could si- multaneously enhance the efficiency


of Parliament’s functioning, saving costs from reduced paper waste and printing fees. • 2.7: The Study Group recognized the contributions that the Open Government Partnership (OGP) had made to government openness and transparency in its member countries, and encouraged Commonwealth countries who were not currently members of OGP to evaluate the benefits of membership in OGP. These benefits included the opportu- nity to share their efforts to become more open and transparent and to learn from the innovations adopted by other countries as they worked towards like goals. OGP also aimed to strengthen public trust in govern-


ment, in part through forging stronger collaboration with civil society and tapping new economic resources that might be hidden in unexplored government data. • 2.8: The Study Group recog- nized that a sustainable culture of government openness could not be achieved without parliamentary open- ness and rigorous parliamentary over- sight. The Study Group noted that Parliaments themselves had often historically lacked access to informa- tion necessary to hold governments to account. In this regard, Parliament could also benefit directly from efforts that assisted its ability to conduct effective oversight of government performance and use of funds.


• 2.9: The Study Group recog- nized that not all countries – and not all citizens within a country – had equal access to the internet or SMS technology. As a result, the benefits of parliamentary openness would not automatically accrue equally to all citizens. There were numerous aspects to the “digital divide” or the “gender digital divide” that would need to be addressed over the long-term. Even though technology cannot necessarily reach all citizens equally, even incre- mental improvements in access to parliamentary information could be multiplied as civil society actors with access to technology redistributed information about Parliament and


The Parliamentarian | 2013: Issue Three | 209


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