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Costa Rica Design Report 2017-2019

Costa Rica’s third action plan addresses three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and includes, for the first time, all three branches of the government. During the design phase, open workshops were held in several cities across the country, but the government did not provide feedback about how citizen inputs were considered. The plan does not have any potentially transformative commitments due to design deficiencies. Going forward, the government could increase the public’s influence in the plan design and commitments could be more specific and results-driven to increase ambition.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2012

Action plan under review: 3 (2017-2018)

Report type: Design

Number of commitments: 12

Action plan development

Is there a multi-stakeholder forum? Yes

Level of public influence:  Consult

Acted contrary to OGP process: No*

Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values: 11 (92%)

Transformative commitments: 0

Potentially starred: 0

Action plan implementation

Starred commitments: N/A

Completed commitments: N/A

Commitments with major DIOG*: N/A

Commitments with outstanding DIOG*: N/A

*DIOG: Did it Open Government?

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Costa Rica joined OGP in 2012 and has since implemented two action plans. This report assesses the design of Costa Rica’s third action plan.

General overview of the action plan

Costa Rica’s solid democratic institutions have contributed to strengthening the country’s open government process. The third action plan covers more themes than previous plans, including gender equity, environment and open contracting.

Unlike the first action plan, the third plan was created by a multi-stakeholder forum, with the participation of government, civil society, higher education and private sector representatives. This broad participation led to the incorporation of diverse themes in the action plan, which was developed through open workshops, and allowed participating citizens to become proposing members. Three sessions were also hosted outside the metropolitan area of San Jose; however, proposals made during these events were not included in the plan. Additionally, the government made available a form in the national open government website where citizens were able to submit commitment proposals and other suggestions.

Commitments are mostly relevant to access to information, with less emphasis on citizen participation and accountability. The most ambitious commitments sought to increase public procurement transparency (commitment 6) and introduce open government values into the judiciary (commitment 7) and the legislature (commitment 8).

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of the implementation cycle
6. Incorporating open contracting standards into the Integrated Public Procurement System (SICOP in Spanish)

Disclose data generated by the SICOP in an open data, neutral and interoperable format, in line with the Open Contracting Partnership standards.

The impact of this commitment will depend on the eventual use of the SICOP; therefore, the target audience should be better defined in order to refine the data generated by the system. It is also necessary to create assessment and accountability processes. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
7. Open Justice Policy

Promote judiciary-wide management that is based on the open justice guiding principles: transparency, participation and collaboration to guarantee impartial, independent and equal access to justice, as well as effective legal protection for integrated wellbeing of the people.

 

This commitment has one of the highest potential impacts of the action plan. Thus, it would benefit from quantifying the policy’s expected outcomes to be able to assess whether those are achieved or not. If these metrics are incorporated into the performance review process, the likelihood of successfully implementing the policy will be higher. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
8. Open Parliament Policy for Costa Rica’s Legislature

Create and implement an institutional open parliament policy for Costa Rica’s Legislature

The recommendation is for the National Open Government Commission (CNGA in Spanish) to prioritize the implementation of this commitment. The legislature is key for the democratic process and for the promotion of reforms and regulations the country requires in order to address the ongoing economic situation and the citizens’ needs. The government could continue using the new structure, which would operate under a future decree, designed to support the implementation of the action plan. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.

Recommendations

The IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide the implementation of the current action plan.

Table 3. Five key IRM recommendations

Increase public influence on the action plan development process and dedicate more time to its design process to more carefully plan the implementation and monitoring of each commitment
Include more ambitious commitments and ones that address the concerns of Costa Rica’s general population
Follow up with CSOs that are starting to engage in open government processes and create mechanisms to increase public influence in the action plan development process.
Create forums for CSOs to work in collaboration with the institutions in charge of implementing commitments, so that they can influence processes, even outside of the CNGA
Monitor the success and completion of commitments in terms of their ability to address the identified problems, rather than the implemented activities

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Filed under: IRM IRM Report

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