Annual Report for 2011
Ever since the first Open World participants arrived in the United States in mid-1999, accountability has been one of the core principles that our exchanges seek to illuminate. Americans take it for granted that the public, private, and nonprofit sectors should be accountable to citizens, consumers, and clients. Yet such an expectation is foreign to so many of our participants because of the political and civic culture they inherited. But without accountability, the rule of law, civil society, and democracy cannot flourish.
What aspects of accountability does Open World emphasize? The list is too long to enumerate here, but some examples are free and fair elections; public access to legislative meetings; freedom of information laws; protections for journalists and whistleblowers; professional codes of ethics; and standard accounting procedures for government spending.
How does Open World convey the concept of accountability? One major way is by hosting exchanges with “accountable governance” as the theme. These delegations job shadow city administrators and political candidates; observe voting and ballot-counting; look over city budgets and state regulations; attend zoning hearings and city council meetings; and meet with citizens groups and state legislators.
The concept of accountability is also central to other Open World hosting themes. Judges participating in our rule of law exchanges regularly discuss judicial ethics with their U.S. counterparts, and see how jury trials insulate judgments from governmental interference. Education officials hosted on Open World education exchanges learn how school boards and parent-teacher organizations work to hold school administrators accountable. Our NGO-development delegations explore how bylaws and boards of directors help lay the foundation for good governance. And Open World media delegations sitting in on newspaper editorial meetings watch as their American equivalents decide what is newsworthy, not what is expedient to say.
Another way that Open World promotes accountability is by hosting delegations for specialized exchanges on anticorruption, government auditing, and similarly relevant topics. And then there are the unprogrammed moments that are also instructive—such as when an American government employee excuses himself from a working lunch with a delegation to feed a parking meter, or when a delegate discovers that the mayor of her host community lives next door to her host family, not in an exclusive enclave.
You will see in the pages that follow how these firsthand experiences inspire our governmental and nongovernmental participants alike to push for greater accountability in their region of the world. We believe that each step taken toward accountability will lead to more democratic and open societies. Please click the PDF below to read the Annual Report for 2011.
[Reprinted with Permission]