Today, the coordinating body for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) reviewed the Report on the Action Plan of OGP for 2014–2016, which will be submitted for public consultation, and thereafter to the Government.
The Action Plan of OGP for 2014–2016 set out three priorities – an inclusive and open policy-making process, a transparent state budget and financial management, and public services geared to the needs of citizens – as well as specific actions under these priorities.
With regard to the most essential activities, the user-friendliness of central information source of the Government - the Information System of Draft Acts (EIS) - has been improved, incl. its search and notification options, as well as its appearance and explanatory texts, making it easier to use and navigate in the Information System of Draft Acts.
In the Information System of Draft Acts, an option was introduced to add notifications at the beginning, during or after the drafting process, through which it is possible at an early stage of policy-making to make available to the public the information about commencing the development of a draft legislation or other issue, as well as the drafting process and the opportunities for participation in the drafting process or, for example, to add public consultation summaries to a draft legislation file.
Heiki Loot, the Head of the coordinating body for the Open Government Partnership, pointed out that Estonia is known to be the only country where the drafting and interministerial coordination processes are so open. “Whenever we introduce our systems to foreign visitors, they often do not believe that it is possible to manage things this way,” added Loot.
In order to involve citizens, a web environment has been created, enabling people to initiate discussions on relevant to society, to prepare public inquiries, collect signatures in support or against such inquiries, and submit inquiries with at least 1,000 digital signatures to the Riigikogu, observe the passage of an inquiry through the Riigikogu, and receive a response to the inquiry from the Riigikogu.
In order to improve the policy-making process, the Action Plan for Open Government Partnership includes a recommendation to make important budgetary and fiscal policy decisions in spring along with the budget strategy. At the beginning of 2015, the Taxation Law Amendment Act was approved, according to which at least six months should generally remain between the adoption and enforcement of the Taxation Law and any amendment thereto.
With regard to state budget, the usage of public funds by general government units has been made more transparent by using the Riigiraha application managed by the Ministry of Finance which allows using the accounting data as open data. Local governments have been instructed to prepare a brief overview of the local budget in a palatable format to the public, not dissimilar to those concerning the national budget strategy and the national budget.
In order to achieve an increased focus on citizens, four pilot projects were implemented to make public services as user friendly as possible. The issuing of the non-resident digital personal certification has also started.
In addition, an open data portal opendata.riik.ee was created to ensure access to public sector data without any access restriction, their reuse and redistribution for commercial and non-commercial purposes for all.
Of the 23 actions envisaged to deliver the commitments, 20 have been implemented and the respective follow-up measures are also envisaged in the Action Plan for 2016-2018, which was approved by the Government this June.
According to the OECD data, involvement in policy-making has increased significantly in Estonia. Compared to other OECD countries, Estonia ranks sixth (out of 38 countries). In the previous report, Estonia was ranked 33th (out of 36 countries). This indicator shows to what extent the executive power includes other parties in policy-making, consultation methods, openness, transparency, and feedback mechanisms are evaluated.
The OGP coordinating body was established in September 2014. It is composed of representatives of state and non-governmental partners, including representatives of NGOs, employers and employees, and as of 2016, representatives of the Riigikogu and local governments as well.
Estonia joined the Open Government Partnership in 2012 and it currently includes 69 countries. The OGP is an international initiative that was created to promote good governance in the world by using opportunities arising from the development of technology. Open governance means exercising power in an honest and transparent way and in dialogue with citizens. Countries that have joined the OGP commit themselves to following the principles of an open government and develop a specific Action Plan in cooperation with various parties.
In order to assess the implementation of the Action Plan, both a self-assessment report and an independent assessment are compiled.
More information: Liis Kasemets, Adviser of the Strategy Unit of the Government Office, +372 693 5627, liis.kasemets[at]riigikantselei[dot]ee