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Netherlands Design Report 2018-2020

The Netherlands third action plan includes a diverse set of commitments, with a particular focus on local governance. Civil society provided significant input during the co-creation process through the multi-stakeholder forum, as well as via direct consultations with relevant central or local authorities. Going forward, the OGP process in the Netherlands could benefit from more high-level political ownership and stronger synergies across commitments. The next action plan could address topics such as beneficial ownership, lobbying transparency, and whistle-blower protection.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2011
Action plan under review: 3
Report type: Design
Number of commitments: 11
 
Action plan development
Is there a Multistakeholder forum: Yes
Level of public influence: Collaborate
Acted contrary to OGP process: No
 
Action plan design
Commitments relevant to OGP values: 10 (91%)
Transformative commitments: 1 (9%)
Potentially starred:   1 (9%)
 
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. The Netherlands joined OGP in 2011. Since, the Netherlands has implemented two action plans. This report evaluates the design of the Netherland’s third action plan.

General overview of action plan

The Netherlands third action plan was co-created in a consultative process and started getting shape in the summer of 2017. Dozens of in-person meetings, as well as one online consultation, were organized with stakeholders and various sectors of society. Furthermore, the Netherlands established a multi-stakeholder forum that was involved with the development of the third plan and its subsequent monitoring and evaluation.

The action plan includes a diverse set of commitments, with a focus on open government at the local level. In addition, it explores emerging themes, such as the use of algorithms for the public good and using technology and innovation to improve government performance. The third action plan also includes one commitment undertaken by the Dutch parliament.

Notable commitments include work geared to improving access to information of local councils and improve the transparency around the financing of local politics. Other notable commitments include piloting digital democratic tools in a number of places and exploring if algorithms used by government can be made more open and understandable to society and piloting the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS).

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle.
1. Open decision-making in municipalities and provinces This commitment plans to publish information on local councils with the goal of covering all municipalities in the Netherlands. Moving forward, civil servants could be trained in the use of the new digital tools to ensure that the level of ambition is achieved. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
2. Local party financing This commitment plans to improve the transparency of local political party financing. Moving forward, stakeholders could consider linking this theme to the broader discussion on the lack of financial support for local political parties in the Netherlands. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
6. Open Algorithms This commitment aims to develop an international best practice and help understand the algorithm decision-making in government. Future work in this area could more directly address ethical dilemmas of bias. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
10. Open Contracting This commitment aims to pilot the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) and explore its feasibility for wider application in the Netherlands. Moving forward, the government could perform a detailed needs assessment on which specific areas of public procurement could benefit from using OCDS. It could also consider scaling up this practice for future tenders to improve transparency. 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 guide implementation of the current action plan.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM Recommendations

Enhance thematic coordination and combine relevant commitments with significant overlap so that the process becomes more harmonized and coherent
Seek higher-level political participation in the design and implementation process; frequently reach out to relevant politicians, parliamentary commissions, political party institutes, etc.
Take action on beneficial ownership and lobby transparency
Include relevant public bodies from special municipalities at the Dutch Caribbean
Improve the performance of the Dutch Whistleblower Authority in accordance with the 2019 EU directive on whistleblower protection

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