Public Information Officers (PIOs) worldwide should be among the prime movers in the pursuit of open government. This was the main message of AIJC President Ramon Tuazon during the International Conference on Media and Information Literacy for Building a Culture of Open Government held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russian Federation, from June 6 to 10, 2016.
Tuazon, one of the plenary speakers at the forum, says PIOs play a key role in promoting and pursuing transparent, accountable, and citizen-oriented governance. He warned, however, that they face challenges in the practice of open government—traditional values, mindsets, and customs in the working environment, such as the “culture of silence” and tedious bureaucratic systems, can pose hindrances to implementation.
What are some actions needed? According to Tuazon, there should be recognition and acceptance among traditional PIOs that change is inevitable and must be reflected in all dimensions of competencies—knowledge, attitudes, values, and behaviors. He calls for more investment in public information work as there seems to be underinvestment in the area compared with expenses in public infrastructure. He attributes this to the lack of recognition by political leaders of the contributions of public information to development.
Tuazon adds that public information should not be perceived as a separate element of governance: “All public officials must also acknowledge that public information work is inherent in their duties and responsibilities and pursuing open government is a collective responsibility of all civil servants.”