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Italy End-of-Term Report 2016-2018

Table 1: At a Glance
Mid-term End of term
Number of Commitments 40
Level of Completion
Completed 2 16
Substantial 11 10
Limited 21 13
Not Started 0 1
Not reviewed 6 0
Number of Commitments with…
Clear Relevance to OGP Values 34 34
Transformative Potential Impact 4 4
Substantial or Complete Implementation 13 26
All Three (✪) 2 4
Did It Open government?
Major 9
Outstanding 2
Moving Forward
Number of Commitments Carried Over to Next Action Plan N/A

Several commitments in Italy’s third action plan opened government in a major or outstanding way, particularly in the areas of transparency of publicly-funded projects, supporting whistleblower protection, and improving civic engagement at the municipal level. By the end of the action plan, over half of the 40 commitments saw substantial or full implementation. The capacity of citizens and civil society to utilize the opportunities offered by the action plan and by the Open Government Forum remains an open issue.

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.

The report covers the full action plan implementation period of September 2016 to June 2018 and includes some relevant developments up to September 2018.

In 2016, the Department for Public Administration (DPA) developed Italy’s third OGP action plan and hosted the national Open Government Forum (OGF), the mechanism for permanent consultation of stakeholders within OGP. More than 50 civil society organizations (CSOs) were consulted in the development and implementation of the action plan. Italy’s 2016–2018 action plan includes 40 commitments that directly involve 17 institutions of the Executive (mostly a collection of ministries and departments of the national government), national agencies or authorities (including the National Anticorruption Authority [ANAC]), and five local administrations.

Compared with its predecessors, the third action plan had a wider scope, stronger stakeholder consultation process during its development, a wider scope of commitments, and addressed priority topics such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), lobbying, and open data.

At the time of writing this report, Italy has not published an end-of-term self-assessment report.[1] On 11 May 2018, the DPA met with the stakeholders for the development of the fourth action plan.[2] The participation was lower than in the previous action plan,[3] and the development phase of the fourth action plan is currently delayed. The original timeline[4] has been modified following the results of political elections in May 2018.

Consultation with Civil Society during Implementation

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

Italy consulted the civil society mainly for the development of the action plan.[5] The consultation process during the implementation has remained a limited and centralized process, with little engagement and participation from the civil society.

The Open Government Forum (OGF) serves as Italy’s multistakeholder forum and is the place for dialogue and engagement with the civil society regarding OGP activities. According to the Italy’s point of contact for OGP, the OGF has been an important platform for discussions and collaboration between government and civil society.[6] The OGF met three times during the second year of implementation between May 2017 and May 2018: 8 May 2017, 12 December 2017, and 11 May 2018. The meeting in May 2018 also focused on the co-creation of the fourth action plan. The OGF meetings were attended by the Minister for Public Administration and other high-level public administration representatives.

The OGF operates along five specific rules,[7] sharing all results and notes on the public OGF Google group and repository, and it is organized in six thematic working groups (or tables).[8] Information on the OGF website is scarce: shared documents are only partially available, notes of the meetings are not available, and the Google repository has not been updated since 2016. There is no evidence on the OGF website of consultation activities or iterative dialogue between OGF members.[9]

In November 2017, the government invited the OGF transparency and open data working group to a consultation meeting to discuss coordination between government and civil society in implementing open data and transparency-related commitments. In addition, the meeting covered planning activities for Open Government Week that took place in February 2018. The main event of Open Government Week was the European Open Government Leader’s Forum (5 February 2018 in Milan),[10] where the DPA invited representatives of the civil society in fishbowl talks on the future of participation. According to Italy’s point of contact for OGP, this working group meeting led to positive discussions between government and civil society representatives regarding the implementation of open data commitments in the third action plan.[11]

Recently, some organizations (Spaghetti Open Data, Openpolis, Ondata, Open Genova, and Open Knowledge Italy) have withdrawn from the OGF working table on transparency and open data, citing a significant gap between their expectations and the way OGF operates.[12] These CSOs criticized the consultation process during implementation, saying that OGF meeting were infrequent and that CSO feedback during the meetings were not sufficiently addressed. However, they also noted that OGF still has potential to serve as an important consultation platform and that government and civil society need to work together to improve future engagement.

Table 2: Consultation during Implementation

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

The IRM has adapted the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) “Spectrum of Participation” to apply to OGP.[13] 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.” In line with the experience, the level of public influence in Italy during the implementation of the action plan remains “consultative,” with the possibility for the public to provide inputs, and no obligation or practice by the government to react or give feedbacks.

Table 3: Level of Public Influence during Implementation

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.[14] One measure, the “starred commitment” (✪), deserves further explanation due to its 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.[15]
  • 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 mid-term report, Italy’s action plan contained two starred commitments. At the end of term, based on the changes in the level of completion, Italy’s action plan has four starred commitments:

  • Commitment 3: ISTAT linked open data,
  • Commitment 13: Open Administration Week,
  • Commitment 36: Rome cooperates, and
  • Commitment 30: SPID.

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 Italy, see the OGP Explorer at 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 practices have 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 captures 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 limitations in mind. 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 Italy IRM progress report 2017.[16]

Italy’s third action plan contains 40 commitments[17] in six categories: transparency, open data, participation, accountability, digital citizenship, and innovation, with more than 17 central administrations responsible for implementation.

The action plan benefited from lessons learned from the previous plan, which was largely incomplete and limited in ambition.[18] To ensure greater completion, the Italian OGP team has increased opportunities for stakeholders to track progress. Italy’s OGP website (open.gov.it) has an intuitive tool called “Monitora” for tracking commitment progress.[19] Monitora is a self-assessment tool for implementing Italian ministries, departments, and agencies (MDA)s. In principle, it allows stakeholders to comment,[20] however the plugin is not active, reducing the monitoring potential of the website.

[1] The self-assessment is expected for October 2018, the Italian OGP Contact person says.
[2] OGP Italia, Twitter post, 11 May 2018, 2:03 a.m., https://twitter.com/opengovitaly/status/994865500604780544.
[3] A group of CSOs involved in the OGF has expressed their concerns about the distance between OGF and CSO expectations. Therefore, they have announced the decision to not attend the meetings for the 4th action plan. The links to the report are available here: (http://spaghettiopendata.org/archivio/blog/matteo-brunati/un-report-sul-forum-ogp-e-gli-opendata#.XVJLRVVR2cw, http://spaghettiopendata.org/archivio/Report-ForumOGP-OpenData.html). The report (alpha version) is still available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LxArALZzVfggm_M3l2-ViauhftgMBZC0leI4uPiDI-A/edit?usp=sharing
[4] OGP Italia, Twitter post, 11 May 2018, 2:16 a.m., https://twitter.com/opengovitaly/status/994868805632450561.
[5] Consult the Progress Report to read how the government followed the process of consultation during the development of the action plan. During the implementation, Italy OGP team opened an online consultation on the government’s draft self-assessment report from 5 to 19 September 2017. “Third Action Plan 2016–2018”, Italia Open Government, Open Government Partnership, http://open.gov.it/terzo-piano-dazione-nazionale/.
[6] The IRM received this information from Italy’s point of contact for OGP during the pre-publication period for this report.
[7]  Rules are: Periodical meetings, Clear agendas, Publicity of work, Inclusiveness and Majority. Periodical meetings mean plenary meetings every six months, and thematic meetings are at least every two months. “Third Action Plan 2016–2018”, Italia Open Government, Open Government Partnership, pp. 127-128, http://open.gov.it/terzo-piano-dazione-nazionale/.
[8] The six working groups are: Transparency, Open Data, Accountability, Participation, Innovation and Citizenship, and Digital Skills.
[9] Since June 2016, consultations and dialogue with the civil society go through the Italian Open Government Forum. For more information on OGF, see “Open Government Forum”, Italia Open Government, http://open.gov.it/open-government-partnership/open-government-forum/. At the time of the mid-term IRM report, OGF notes and discussion are not available on the public Google Drive Folder: https://bit.ly/2Y54mYL.
[10] Full details of the event are available here: “Milan Outcome Document”, Italia Open Government, http://open.gov.it/saa/european-open-government-leaders-forum/.
[11] The IRM received this comment from Italy’s point of contact for OGP during the pre-publication period for this report.
[12] One of the activists of Spaghetti Open Data, has published the document in one of his blog: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LxArALZzVfggm_M3l2-ViauhftgMBZC0leI4uPiDI-A/edit?usp=sharing The document was shared four times. The document is available at  http://spaghettiopendata.org/archivio/blog/matteo-brunati/un-report-sul-forum-ogp-e-gli-opendata#.XVJLRVVR2cw.
[13] “IAP2’s Public Participation Spectrum”, International Association for Public Participation, https://bit.ly/2oZsFYd.
[14] IRM Procedures Manual, Open Government Partnership, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/about-irm.
[15] The International Experts Panel changed this criterion in 2015. For more information, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/node/5919
[16] “IRM Italy Mid-Term Report 2016–2018”, Independent Reporting Mechanism, Open Government Partnership, https://bit.ly/2Ejr5Xi.
[17] The first release of the Italian OGP action plan contained 34 commitments, six more were added in June 2017 through an Addendum.
[18] “IRM Italy End-of-Term report 2014–2016”, Independent Reporting Mechanism, Open Government Partnership, 28 June 2017, https://bit.ly/2JLy15v. Only one out of six commitments were completed in the 2014–2016 plan.
[19] The tool includes basic information on the action (actors, timeframe, objectives, results), a progress tracker (objectives range from achieved “green” to missed “red”), and timeline (started, to be started, finished). The six commitments of the June 2017 addendum are not included in the Monitora and should be added. The tool is open for comments to each milestone. “Monitora”, Italia Open Government, http://open.gov.it/monitora/.
[20] “Inline Comments – WordPress Plugin”, Kevin Weber, accessed 13 March 2018, https://kevinw.de/inline-comments/.

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