Why Disclosure Today?
Why Disclosure Today?
In resource-rich Trinidad and Tobago the issues of corruption, waste and mismanagement are of primary concern. The government is the single largest procurer of goods, works and services and public procurement is most vulnerable to abuses. The Brainchild of DT, Margaret Rose, an Attorney-at-Law with over 20 years in practice in Trinidad and Tobago and who has actively participated in the lobbying for much needed reform in the procurement processes recognised that there was a need for change. Not just legislatively, but there needed to be a paradigm shift in the attitudes of the governed.
“Up against systems that were resistant to change, I began to see the futility in civil society focusing its attention on legislative reform only; an outcome impossible to achieve without political will… I believe that for there to be a transformation of public procurement governance, we need to transform the way we think and engage on public governance issues” -Margaret Rose
Taking the helm, from Two Thousand and Six, Ms. Rose re-focused her anti-corruption work on inspiring and empowering citizens to take greater responsibility for public governance challenges and become more effective guardians of the public interest. This eventually led to the genesis of Disclosure Today!
What is Disclosure Today?
DT is a ground-breaking generative social governance network designed to crowd-source accountability thereby empowering responsible and collaborative citizen engagement in public sector decision-making. On a web-based and mobile platform citizens are able to:
REQUEST– Access information on public sector decisions;
PROPOSE– Provide innovative solutions to community challenges; and
DISCLOSE- Make public interest disclosures.
DT also empowers public bodies to engage with the public early on in procurement decision-making, demonstrate the effectiveness of their project commissioning and management and ensure proper and more effective management of disclosure obligations in public information. For more information on how the platform works Click here.
Where are We at?
We had a soft launch of the platform at the 4th Caribbean Public Procurement Conference (CPPC) 2014 which was attended by over 150 academics, experts, public and private sector professionals, senior officials, Members of Parliament and Ministers of Government from Trinidad and Tobago and from all across the globe. Our web developers from Portugal gave a full demonstration of the platform and allowed participants to sign up. Speakers at the launch included Norma Garza, Knowledge & Learning Lead for Open Government, World Bank Institute, 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. For a video of the feedback on the launch from some of the participants click here.
Shortly after our soft launch, the Rose Law Caribbean website (the law firm providing pro-bono services to Disclosure Today) was hacked and temporarily shut down by Google. This may have been as a result of the soft launch or purely a coincidence however this occurrence raised further security concerns since it is important that citizens using the platform are protected from abuse. Due to some of the functions of the DT! platform such as the whistleblowing feature and confidential and anonymous freedom of Information request, we felt that it was critical that we provide at minimum, the industry standard of security on the online platform. The current software developers of the platform are not experienced in this area and we have had to search for appropriate online security standards and service providers. Ensuring the platform is launched with the appropriate security has caused some delay in launching the platform fully. However, we have already sourced the necessary security providers and anticipate our launch to be very soon. To get more information on our upcoming launch and to join the Disclosure Today Community sign up here or Click here to follow us on twitter or join our facebook group
MEET OUR LEGAL TEAM!
One of the distinguishing features of the Disclosure Today platform is that the REQUEST, PROPOSE and DISCLOSE functions are underscored by lawyers providing pro bono legal advice to citizens who chose to utilise the platform. Get to know more about our team and see what they have to say about Disclosure Today below.
Justin Phelps, Barrister & Attorney at Law
Justin was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1995 and Trinidad and Tobago in 1996. Eligible to practice throughout the Commonwealth Caribbean, Justin is one of the region’s outstanding commercial litigators with a specialization in Advocacy. His practice has been concentrated in the areas of corporate, commercial and civil litigation, arbitration, public inquiries and other statutory tribunals. Justin is a member of the Rose Law Caribbean External Expert Panel.
“I am passionate about seeing the law develop in a just and fair manner. Even the least legally inclined among us must recognize that the law provides the rules for the development of mankind and the preservation of humanity. Disclosure today is as innovative as it ought to be uncontroversial- it represents vast progress in one of those few areas of law that does not permit of any counter-argument, transparency in modern times can only be good, and can never be harmful.” Justin Phelps
Margaret Rose, LLB (Hons), LLM – Corporate Commercial Law
Margaret is a lawyer called to the bar of Trinidad and Tobago in 1995 specialising in criminal, public law and public enquiries. As Managing Partner of Rose Law Caribbean, she specializes in public contracting and public interest matters. Margaret is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Caribbean Procurement Institute. She is also the Founding Director of Disclosure Today.
“I am passionate about the impact of technological innovation on all aspects of modern society and particularly the promises it provides for deepening citizen engagement in public governance in a representative democracy. Disclosure Today is exciting because of its potential in advancing transparency, empowering citizens, fighting corruption and utilizing technology to improve governance.” Margaret Rose
Yelena Hewitt, LLB (Hons), LLM – International Trade & Investment Law
Yelena is a lawyer called to the bar of Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 specialising in corporate and commercial contracts and litigation, probate, conveyancing and security documents. In 2014 she joined Rose Law Caribbean and is developing her specialization on international trade and procurement and public interest law.
“I am passionate about contributing to making our society a just and fair one. I believe that in order to make informed decisions about our lives and the society we live in, we need information. Disclosure Today is an excellent tool that allows an easy flow of communication and information between the state and its people. Apart from supporting transparency, it reduces bureaucracy, vulnerability and allows for citizen participation.” Yelena Hewitt
Tanya Alexis, LLB (Hons)
Just graduating from the Hugh Wooding Law School in 2014 Tanya is the newest addition to the legal team at Rose Law Caribbean and Disclosure Today. Tanya is one of the finest young legal minds leaving the law school with a clean sweep of the awards including Most Outstanding Student over the two years, Chairman’s Prize, for best performance in Evidence & Forensic Medicine, Remedies & Civil Procedure, Justice Anthony Lucky Prize for best performance in Evidence & Forensic Medicine, Grenada Bar Association Prize for Excellence and being Valedictorian of the class of 2014.
“I am passionate about practising law in a manner which serves to eradicate inequalities in our society and gives a voice to the voiceless. Disclosure Today is a revolutionary platform and will help transform the relationship between citizens and the government through public participation, government accountability and transparency in decision making processes.” Tanya Alexis