Open Government Challenges: What Do We Do When a Global Poster Child Goes Wrong?

4 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2013 Last revised: 18 Jan 2014

Date Written: December 5, 2013


When they work, open government and related reforms can make more voices count and/or redistribute power. But success isn’t always permanent.

Often those who stand to lose from reforms fight back, for example (see e.g. this account from Romania). The evidence of real open government change is uneven at best (see here, here, here).

Practitioners spend a lot of time and resources looking inspiring success stories. Among the widely used examples are the impact of community based-monitoring in Ugandan villages, the use of asset recovery mechanisms in Peru, or integrity pacts in Colombia. You may also have heard about open data in the US and the UK.

Sometimes we draw on examples so often that we turn them into ‘poster children’ – examples that epitomize and help make the case for openness. But, what do we do when a poster child goes wrong?

To reflect on this issue, this note presents the Argentinean Asset Disclosures case, a poster child for open that closed down. For those interested in the tool I discuss how changes in concrete rules make an open government system less meaningful in practice or close it down. Then, the note kick starts a conversation about what to do to mitigate negative consequences and move forward.

Keywords: open government, social accountability, anticorruption, reversal backlash

JEL Classification: O19, P16

Suggested Citation

Guerzovich, Maria F., Open Government Challenges: What Do We Do When a Global Poster Child Goes Wrong? (December 5, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

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