How to build local open government

How to build local open government, EPSI July 2014

The full paper can be accessed here 

Executive Summary

From town/city halls, national governments to central government public agencies, governments are working on innovative solutions to the most stringent and pressing problems their citizens face.  In doing so, governments are generating great things and creating institutions that focus on the future. Unfortunately, too often public servants focus on the performance of the current system, and reject experimentation and innovation. Resistance to change and getting out of comfort zone is still a ‘painful’ exercise across both developed and developing countries. However, it is today more than ever, that public sector requires reforms which are co-created and co-designed together with citizens who are going to be affected by those reforms. This opens up an entire new paradigm shift in the way central and local governments interact and engage with their citizens on the problems/issues/challenges.

Opening up governments, particularly at city level or local level is seen as a promising practice – given that the more local you go the easier is to implement/pilot/test reforms, is easier to engage with citizens, easier to partner with key stakeholders and get problems being ‘owned’ by the community.

Local open government is not an easy task: it is a change in culture of the public sector and current theories and practices of public administration indicate that public servants need new competencies and the capacity to play several roles. They are required to play the role of researchers (while planning, working with open data and evaluating the participation process), role of facilitators with good knowledge and experience of participative tools and citizen-centred approaches as well as to be ICT literate in order to be able to learn and interact with citizens in variety of new ways including via mobile and web. It is without any doubt that information technology is changing the relationship between citizens, politicians and public servants. And these changes are crucial … ICTs are creating a more networked society, enabling greater collaboration with citizens. All these have a wide ranging impact on how public services are organized and delivered, and in turn, determine the quality of life of the regular citizens.  Are local governments ready for becoming more open and transparent and engage with citizens in new ways?!

The main purpose of this paper is to present some already existent practices when it comes to local open governments particularly in Europe, look into the ‘history’ of open government, see how Open Government Partnership (OGP) member countries are going local with their open government commitments and analyse ways local governments could embrace the core values and principles of open government in practice.

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