Estonia Transitional Results Report 2018-2020
- Action Plan: Estonia Action Plan 2018-2020
- Dates Under Review: 2018-2020
- Report Publication Year: 2021
The The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving government transparency, ensuring opportunities for citizen participation in public matters, and strengthen... More 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. Action plans are at the core of a government’s participation in OGP. They are the product of a co-creation process in which government and civil society jointly develop commitments to open governmen... commitments may build on existing efforts, identify new steps to complete ongoing reforms, or initiate an entirely new area. OGP’s The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) is OGP’s accountability arm and the main means of tracking progress in participating countries. The IRM provides independent, evidence-based, and objective ... monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Civil society and government leaders use the evaluations to reflect on their progress and determine if efforts have impacted people’s lives.
The IRM has partnered with Maarja Olesk to carry out this evaluation. The IRM aims to inform ongoing dialogue around the development and implementation of future commitments. For a full description of the IRM’s methodology, please visit https://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/independent-reporting-mechanism.
This report covers the implementation of Estonia’s fourth action plan for 2018–2020. In 2021, the IRM will implement a new approach to its research process and the scope of its reporting on action plans, approved by the IRM Refresh. The IRM adjusted its Implementation Reports for 2018-2020 action plans to fit the transition process to the new IRM products and enable the IRM to adjust its workflow in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on OGP country processes.
The IRM Transitional Results Report assesses the status of the action plan’s commitments and the results from their implementation at the end of the action plan cycle. This report does not re-visit the assessments for “OGP commitments should be clear and specific enough to enable measurement of their progress. Verifiable commitments include specific activities that can be monitored. Following an action plan’s subm...,” “According to the OGP Articles of Governance, OGP commitments should include a clear open government lens. Specifically, they should advance at least one of the OGP values: transparency, citizen partic...” or “Potential Impact.” The IRM assessed those three indicators in IRM Design Reports. For more details on each indicator, please see Annex I in this report.
General Highlights and Results
Estonia’s fourth OGP action plan included six commitments. All were completed by the end of the action plan term, which was an improvement compared to previous action plans. To a large extent, the timely completion of the commitments was possible thanks to the manageable number of commitments and realistic objectives set for each commitment for the two-year implementation period. In some cases, the commitments’ moderate ambition helped facilitate timely implementation. For example, Commitment 6 set out to finalize the process of updating school curricula, which was originally due to be completed in the previous action plan. At the same time, Commitment 4 sought to advance open government at the local level by funding projects and raising awareness in five out of 79 local administrations. In reality, the government funded open government projects in only three municipalities, but the ones that were implemented were completed on time. To reach the objectives of this commitment, the government also conducted an awareness-raising workshop for local municipalities, reaching 20 additional municipalities.
The two commitments that were highlighted as potentially transformative in the IRM Design Report (Commitment 1 and Commitment 5) have yielded promising results in terms of inducing change in government practices. Both were ambitious and addressed clear gaps in public access to information and/or civic participation. As a result of Commitment 5, the government launched a public online monitoring tool outlining detailed comparative information on the performance of all Estonian local municipalities in public service provision and open government. This constitutes a major improvement in making this information accessible to the public. Commitment 1 laid a solid foundation for improved public access to information on the policy-making process and co-creation with citizens by delivering a prototype for a new information system for policy drafting and co-creation. Due to its ambition and complexity, this commitment spans several action plan cycles and will be continued in Estonia’s fifth OGP action plan (2020-2022).
The COVID-19 pandemic reached Estonia in March 2020 during the last months of the fourth OGP action plan period. The government declared a state of emergency on 13 March to contain the spread of the pandemic and implemented measures such as restrictions on public events and gatherings, closing recreation and leisure establishments, setting up travel restrictions and border control, shifting schools to distance learning and ordering citizens to keep a 2-meter distance from other people in public places. The government lifted the state of emergency on 17 May, relaxing most restrictions. New rules and recommendations have been adapted thereafter on a needs basis. The Estonian public has generally accepted the restrictions as justified. The Global Monitor of COVID-19’s Impact on Democracy and Human Rights launched by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance did not flag any concerning developments in Estonia’s COVID-19 response in terms of risks to human rights and democracy.
OGP’s COVID-19 OpenGov Tracker has highlighted Estonia as being among the world leaders in publishing COVID testing data. As a result of previous OGP action plans, Estonia has built a national open data portal with an increasing number of datasets as well as an active open data community. As the national Health Board initially disseminated information about new COVID-19 cases only via press releases, volunteers stepped in and built an online dashboard, visualizing the statistical data to facilitate public monitoring of the situation. At first the data was entered manually from the daily press releases but due to demand from the open data community, the Health and Welfare Information Systems Center serving the Health Board reorganized their data management processes and released COVID-19 data as machine-readable open data on 1 April. The center now provides detailed data (including tests administered, number of new confirmed cases, hospitalizations, people in intensive care, and deaths by county, age, and gender) which are updated daily.
The pandemic did not have major repercussions on the implementation of the OGP action plan since all commitments had been substantially completed by March 2020. The Estonian public administration’s high level of digitalization enabled institutions responsible for implementation to shift to remote work and continue carrying out functions regardless of COVID-19-related restrictions. However, occasional delays did occur due to the crisis. For instance, the Ministry of Finance postponed the public launch of the local municipalities’ performance monitoring tool (Commitment 5) from the beginning of 2020 to August the same year when the epidemic had temporarily receded. The ministry also originally intended to involve a small group of citizens in testing the tool. However, they abandoned the idea as the testing period coincided with the state of emergency put in place from March to May 2020, which brought extra tasks to the responsible team and precluded holding physical meetings. According to the OGP Point of Contact at the Government Office, COVID-19 did not change the country’s priorities for the next OGP action plan. The co-creation of the fifth action plan had already started in fall 2019 and stakeholders still found the priorities relevant in spring, as several commitments in the fifth action plan directly build upon the results of the fourth action plan.
 For more information, see: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/process/accountability/about-the-irm/irm-refresh/
 Interview with Kaie Küngas (Ministry of Finance), 20 April 2021.
 Estonia’s Open Government Partnership Fifth Action Plan for 2020–2022, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Estonia_Action-Plan_2020-2022_EN.pdf
 Government of Estonia, The Government Declared an Emergency Situation in Estonia until 1 May, 12 March 2020, https://www.kriis.ee/en/news/government-declared-emergency-situation-estonia-until-1-may
 Government of Estonia, The Government Will Send Everyone an E-mail and an SMS about the New Restrictions of the Emergency Situation, 25 March 2020, https://www.kriis.ee/en/news/government-will-send-everyone-e-mail-and-sms-about-new-restrictions-emergency-situation
 Estonian Public Broadcasting, Kümnendik Eesti elanikest näeb koroonapiirangutes inimõiguste rikkumist, 13 September 2020, https://www.err.ee/1134465/kumnendik-eesti-elanikest-naeb-koroonapiirangutes-inimoiguste-rikkumist
 International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), Global Monitor of COVID-19´s impact on Democracy and Human Rights, https://www.idea.int/gsod-indices/#/indices/countries-regions-profile
 Open Government Partnership, State of Open Government During COVID-19, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/state-of-open-government-during-covid-19/
 The Health Board later produced a similar dashboard of their own, https://www.terviseamet.ee/et/koroonaviirus/koroonakaart
 The data on the national Health Board’s website, https://www.terviseamet.ee/et/koroonaviirus/avaandmed
 Interview with Ott Karulin (Government Office), 10 November 2020.
 Email interview with Andrus Jõgi (Ministry of Finance), 12 November 2020 and 3 February 2021.
 Estonia’s fifth OGP action plan, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/estonia-action-plan-2020-2022/