New Social Governance Initiative launched in the Caribbean and attracts Top FOI talent
The soft launch of Disclosure Today was an exceptional event which was held at the 4th Caribbean Procurement Conference (CPPC) 2014 on December 1st, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency, Trinidad and Tobago. Over 150 people attended the conference which included Ministers of Government, Members of Parliament and Senior Public Sector Officials from throughout the English Speaking Caribbean. It involved a live demonstration of the platform and participants of the conference were invited to sign up. Speakers at the launch included Norma Garza, Knowledge & Learning Lead for Open Government, World Bank Institute, and Magda Theodate, highly experienced consultant in international trade with institutions such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, who explained the growing need for citizen engagement in government decision-making and placed Disclosure Today in the context of the global movement for Open Government. Click here to see our soft launch.
There has been growing public awareness of the Disclosure Today platform since its soft launch. In the newspapers, numerous articles have been published as for instance “Empower Citizens as Watchdogs” and “T&T Whistleblowers enter the Digital Age”, amongst several others. Over 200 people have already signed up directly on the platform to become members of DT. DT’s Facebook page launched in December 2014 has attracted over 6000 people, with a fan base that continues to grow at a rate of 250-350 per week.
We have attracted top FOI talent to our DT team. Rishi Maharaj, our new Information & Privacy Technologist, brings with him over 10 years experience working in the public sector and about 7 years involvement in the administration of the Freedom of Information Act. funny questions The combination of Rishi’s guidance, co-operation from the Freedom of Information Unit and the persistence of the Disclosure Today’s team, enabled the collection of all the relevant information needed for citizens to make online freedom of information requests. Although such a collection of information was challenging, it highlighted the difficulty faced by citizens and the need for the DT team to fulfill this public service.
“Freedom of information legislation is one of the most powerful means through which citizens can arm themselves with knowledge that will separate fact from fiction and indisputable truth from rumour and conjecture. Access to information is a critical cornerstone of our democracy and a most powerful tool in the arsenal of citizens, journalists and non-governmental organizations. Disclosure Today is an innovative tool for allowing citizens to truly participate in what I would like to term “360o participatory governance”
We have also welcomed to the DT team Roshad Smith, our Webmaster & Technology Lead. His knowledge of computer and communication systems is a much-needed addition to a heavy legal based team.
“I’m excited about DT! because the platform uses technology to bridge the information gap between the government and citizens. It provides citizens with a tool to access government information and to voice their issues and concerns at the click of a button.”
Disclosure Today is now an accredited member of CIVICUS, FOIA Net and is currently exploring partnership opportunities with leading civic technology and access to information organisations at the mySociety Conference in London and the Alavateli Conference in Madrid.
The platform is on the verge of being launched however the DT team has also been contacted by several persons via telephone seeking to blow the whistle in a responsible and confidential manner as we have been advising public sector employees in respect of major corruption scandals in Trinidad and Tobago which attracted massive media attention during February and April 2015.