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Finland Design Report 2017–2019

Daria Pritup, Independent Researcher
Teemu Laulainen, Independent Researcher

Finland’s third action plan focused on improved access to information and participation of vulnerable groups. Although the co-creation process involved significant levels of civil society consultation, commitments did not end up being specific and measurable. Moving forward, the next action plan would benefit from the inclusion of results-oriented commitments, with identification of responsible institutions and implementation timetables.

Table 1. At a glance
Participating since: 2012
Action plan under review: 3
Report type: Design
Number of commitments: 7
Action plan development
Is there a Multistakeholder forum: Yes
Level of public influence: Involve
Acted contrary to OGP process: No
Action plan design
Commitments relevant to OGP values: 6 (86%)
Transformative commitments:  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. Finland joined OGP in 2012. Since then, Finland has implemented two action plans. This report evaluates the design of Finland’s third action plan.

General overview of action plan

Finland continues to perform highly in areas of transparency, participatory budgeting, and anti-corruption. The third action plan builds on themes included in the previous two plans, emphasising easier access to government information and participation across diverse groups of society. The action plan contains several commitments linked to the provision of information on historical administrative reorganisation, tied to the planned landmark reform encompassing social and health services and regional governance. However, the commitments in the third action plan are vague and lack specific indicators to measure implementation and results.

Compared with the previous action plan, the co-creation process of the current plan involved a higher degree of civil society participation. The government held an open call for proposals, followed by a workshop to vote on themes and an online consultation about commitment areas. Finland maintained a robust multi-stakeholder forum consisting of several groups, each with different roles in the co-creation process.

Major stakeholder priorities for Finland’s third action plan included accessibility of services and participation opportunities for various groups, such as minorities and different age groups. Although civil society was highly involved in the co-creation process and the action plan generally reflected these priorities, the final commitments lacked concrete milestones and responsible institutions to monitor implementation.

One notable commitment (3) involves widening Finland’s access to the information principle (which obliges government agencies to make documents relating to decision-making publicly available) to also apply to public services that are incorporated, in other words, produced by corporate entities.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments 

Commitment description

Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle.
3. Widen access to information principle

Extend the access to information principle to cover public services that are produced in a company format.

If carried forward, the government could clarify whether outsourced public services produced by privately owned businesses will also be covered by the access to information principle. The IRM researcher also recommends that the Ministry of Justice complete its review of whether or not expanding the access to information principle to incorporated services requires a change in existing law.

Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

 

Recommendations

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

Five KEY IRM Recommendations:

  1. Improve commitment quality through better problem-solution framing, clarifying relevance to OGP values, and identifying verifiable milestones.
  2. Increase high-level government representation in a multi-stakeholder forum for a more ambitious action plan.
  3. Allow for greater civil society participation in shaping the final scale and scope of commitments
  4. Extend commitments related to the Regional Government, Health and Social Services Reform to cover several action plans.
  5. Assess the feasibility and legal status of proposed commitments during the action plan development process.

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Filed under: IRM Report

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