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Greece End-of-Term Report 2016-2018

Country: Greece
Action Plan: Greece Action Plan 2016-2018
Report Publication Year: 2019
Researcher: IRM staff with contributions from Alexandros Melidis, Athanasios Deligiannis, Athanasios Priftis – Openwise

Greece’s third national action plan included commitments from several ministries, civil society organizations, subnational governments and the parliament. However, most commitments saw limited levels of completion and a multi-stakeholder forum did not become operational. The next action plan could benefit from focusing on fewer, more well-designed commitments as well as a stronger collaboration between the government and civil society organizations.

Table 1: At a Glance
Mid-term End of term
Number of Commitments 34
Level of Completion
Completed 2 9
Substantial 9 5
Limited 15 17
Not Started 8 3
Number of Commitments with…
Clear Relevance to OGP Values 32 32
Transformative Potential Impact 2 2
Substantial or Complete Implementation 11 14
All Three (✪) 0 1
Did It Open government?
Major 6
Outstanding 0
Moving Forward
Number of Commitments Carried Over to Next Action Plan Unclear

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a review of the activities of each OGP-participating country. This report summarizes the results of the period July 2016 to June 2018 and includes some relevant developments up to November 2018.

The Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction (MAR), formerly the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction, is the leading institution for the development and implementation of Greece’s OGP action plan. Within this Ministry, the Department of Transparency, Open Government and Innovation (established in 2014) has the statutory responsibility for open government policies at the administrative level. Two civil society organizations (CSOs) — Open Knowledge Foundation Greece and Open Technologies Alliance/Greek Free Software Society — were directly involved in the action plan development and contributed their own commitments (30, 31, 32 and 33) with an aim to implement them on their own.[Note 1: OGP, “Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) Progress Report 2016–2018: Greece”, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/greece-mid-term-report-2016-2018-public-comment%5D Completion rates for these commitments are higher than the ones directly implemented by the government.

Despite civil society and government efforts at the start of the action plan cycle, a multi-stakeholder forum has not materialized. A new attempt to form one is currently under way (October 2018). Greek CSOs have prepared an open letter to the Minister of Administrative Reconstruction to initiate the forum.

The government published a self-assessment report at the beginning of December 2018.[Note 2: Regarding commitment implementation, the self-assessment report followed the project management tool ASANA which is updated by the responsible public agencies.]

According to MAR, the government intended to present a new action plan but needed more time to prepare their co-creation process.[Note 3: IRM researcher meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction and the OGP Support Unit at the OGP Global Summit in Tbilisi, July 2018.] By the end of 2018, the Greek government had not submitted a new action plan. In most cases, it remains unclear if unfinished commitments will be carried forward in the next action plan. In cases where departments expressed their willingness to continue working on particular commitments, this is reflected in the individual commitment analysis.

Consultation with Civil Society during Implementation

Countries participating in OGP follow a process for consultation during development and implementation of their action plan.

MAR organized consultation events and informational meetings during the first year of implementation — from October 2016 to June 2017. However, during the second year of implementation there were no consultation meetings, except for one workshop entitled “Open Governance as a Strategic Choice. From design to implementation” organized by the Ministry of Administrative Reform on September 2017, which did not include discussions on government commitments and implementation.

Greece’s former national representative for OGP, Mr. Vernardakis, had created an inter-ministerial working group to oversee and coordinate implementation. However, due to a government reshuffle that took place during the start of the implementation period this working group has remained inactive.[Note 4: Due to a government reshuffle οn 18 August 2018 the Ministry is now under the leadership of Mrs. Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou. Mr. Vernardakis has a new position in the Ministry of State.] Successive transitions within the Ministry and the increased emphasis on Greece’s effort to exit its economic adjustment program meant that the working group has never convened.[Note 5: Nancy Routzouni, national point of contact, telephone interview with IRM researcher, 17 October 2018.] Dr. Nikos Michalopoulos, the Open Government department Director of the Ministry expressed, in June 2018, that openness initiatives such as those supported by the national action plan ceased to be a priority for the Ministry’s new leadership.[Note 6: Nikos Michalopoulos, General Secretary for Open Government, Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction, interview with IRM researcher, 23 June 2018.]

Although there is no permanent multi-stakeholder forum to ensure commitment implementation, Ms Nancy Routzouni, the government point of contact, considers that the working group still plays a monitoring role. The government provided two CSOs (Open Technologies Alliances (GFOSS) and Open Knowledge Greece) with access to an internal project management tool (ASANA) used by most of the implementing agencies to report on commitment progress. After a request by Open Technologies Alliance, this access was extended to other relevant CSOs. However, according to Open Technologies Alliance and OK Greece, CSOs have never used the commenting feature. The government followed up with the different agencies so that they would provide information on the status of the implementation of commitments.[Note 7: The point of contact provided the IRM researcher with evidence (two letters sent on September 2018) to support this statement. ] However, some of the commitments were not consistently updated by the relevant government agencies and were automatically labeled as “not started” or “completed” by the ASANA tool without necessarily matching their level of implementation.[Note 8: Despina Mitropoulou, CEO of Open Technologies Alliance and Haralampos Bratsas, CEO of OK Greece, IRM researcher interview, 20 January 2018. ]

The Executive Director of Vouliwatch, a non-profit organization working on parliamentary issues in Greece, considered the lack of a functioning multi-stakeholder forum as a major shortcoming for effective monitoring of the action plan implementation.[Note 9: Stefanos Loukopoulos, Vouliwatch General Director, interview with IRM researcher, Athens, 9 October 2018.] They also expressed that the inactivity of the inter-ministerial working group was due to a lack of political will.[Note 10: Stefanos Loukopoulos, Vouliwatch General Director, interview with IRM researcher, Athens, 9 October 2018.] To reignite discussions and stimulate a dialogue for the fourth Greek action plan, the three leading CSOs drafted an open letter to the Minister of Administrative Reconstruction in July 2018. According to the Open Wise team, the letter was sent in January 2019 and was signed by 11 CSOs.

Table 2: Consultation during Implementation

Regular Multistakeholder Forum Midterm End of Term
1. Did a forum exist? No No
2. Did it meet regularly? No No

Table 3: Level of Public Influence during Implementation

The IRM has adapted the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) “Spectrum of Participation” to apply to OGP.[Note 11: IAP2’s Public Participation Framework, http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iap2.org/resource/resmgr/foundations_course/IAP2_P2_Spectrum_FINAL.pdf%5D This spectrum shows the potential level of public influence on the contents of the action plan. In the spirit of OGP, most countries should aspire for “collaborative.”

Level of Public Influence during Implementation of Action Plan Midterm End of Term
Empower The government handed decision-making power to members of the public.
Collaborate There was iterative dialogue AND the public helped set the agenda.
Involve The government gave feedback on how public inputs were considered.
Consult The public could give inputs.

 

Inform The government provided the public with information on the action plan.
No Consultation No consultation

About the Assessment

The indicators and method used in the IRM research can be found in the IRM Procedures Manual.[Note 12: IRM Procedures Manual, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/about-irm%5D One measure, the “starred commitment” (✪), deserves further explanation due to its particular interest to readers and usefulness for encouraging a race to the top among OGP-participating countries. Starred commitments are considered exemplary OGP commitments. To receive a star, a commitment must meet several criteria:

  • Starred commitments will have “medium” or “high” specificity. A commitment must lay out clearly defined activities and steps to make a judgment about its potential impact.
  • The commitment’s language should make clear its relevance to opening government. Specifically, it must relate to at least one of the OGP values of Access to Information, Civic Participation, or Public Accountability.
  • The commitment would have a “transformative” potential impact if completely implemented.[Note 13: The International Experts Panel changed this criterion in 2015. For more information, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/node/5919%5D
  • The government must make significant progress on this commitment during the action plan implementation period, receiving an assessment of “substantial” or “complete” implementation.

Starred commitments can lose their starred status if their completion falls short of substantial or full completion at the end of the action plan implementation period.

In the midterm report, the Greek action plan contained no starred commitments. At the end of term, based on the changes in the level of completion, Greece’s action plan contained one starred commitment:

  • Commitment 15: Public Property Open Data

Finally, the tables in this section present an excerpt of the wealth of data the IRM collects during its reporting process. For the full dataset for Greece, see the OGP Explorer at http://www.opengovpartnership.org/explorer.

About “Did It Open Government?”

To capture changes in government practice, the IRM introduced a new variable “Did It Open Government?” in end-of-term reports. This variable attempts to move beyond measuring outputs and deliverables to looking at how the government practice has changed as a result of the commitment’s implementation.

As written, some OGP commitments are vague and/or not clearly relevant to OGP values but achieve significant policy reforms. In other cases, commitments as written appear relevant and ambitious, but fail to open government as implemented. The “Did It Open Government” variable attempts to capture these subtleties.

The “Did It Open Government?” variable assesses changes in government practice using the following spectrum:

  • Worsened: Government openness worsens as a result of the commitment.
  • Did not change: No changes in government practice.
  • Marginal: Some change, but minor in terms of its effect on level of openness.
  • Major: A step forward for government openness in the relevant policy area but remains limited in scope or scale.
  • Outstanding: A reform that has transformed “business as usual” in the relevant policy area by opening government.

To assess this variable, researchers establish the status quo at the outset of the action plan. They then assess outcomes as implemented for changes in government openness.

Readers should keep in mind limitations. IRM end-of-term reports are prepared only a few months after the implementation cycle is completed. The variable focuses on outcomes that can be observed in government openness practices at the end of the two-year implementation period. The report and the variable do not intend to assess impact because of the complex methodological implications and the time frame of the report

Commitment Implementation

General Overview of Commitments

As part of OGP, countries are required to make commitments in a two-year action plan. The tables below summarize the completion level at the end of term and progress on the “Did It Open Government?” metric. For commitments that were complete at the midterm, the report will provide a summary of the progress report findings but focus on analysis of the ‘Did It Open Government?’ variable. For further details on these commitments, please see the IRM progress report for Greece (2016-2018).

The current action plan, focused on 10 broad policy areas: public administration reforms and open data for: culture, maritime affairs, economy, education, justice, the environment, and parliament. Also, for the first time the action plan included regional and local administration commitments as well as commitments implemented by civil society.

Themes

Due to the number of commitments IRM researchers clustered them to keep the report readable in line with the themes of the third action plan submitted by the Greek government.

The original action plan “Theme 1 public administration reforms” is broken down into the following themes:

Theme 1: Regulatory Reform

  • Commitment 1 Framework Law on open participation in government
  • Commitment 6 Improvement of open deliberation law

Theme 2: Public Service Delivery

  • Commitment 2 Participation in the assessment of the public sector
  • Commitment 3 Publish organizational charts
  • Commitment 4 Accountability in dispute settlement between citizens and the public sector
  • Commitment 5 Standardize public service provision and procedures and publish a guide

 Theme 3: Selecting Officials

  • Commitment 7 National Register of Line Managers (Register)
  • Commitment 8 Implement assessments of employees, services and control methods
  • Commitment 9 Implement a System for Selecting Managers

Standalone Commitment

  • Commitment 10: Digital repository for public administration studies

The remaining 24 commitments were clustered according to the themes already provided in the action plan.

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