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Republic of Korea Design Report 2018-2020

Republic of Korea’s fourth action plan includes a diverse range of commitments, with particular focus on open data, access to information, and citizen engagement. While the Open Government Forum Korea played a pivotal role in developing the action plan, there is an opportunity for citizens and civil society to better influence the selection of commitments and, in doing so, lead the inclusion of more ambitious initiatives.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2011

Action plan under review: 2018−2020

Report type: Design

Number of commitments: 13

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:  13 (100%)

Transformative commitments:  0 (0%)

Potentially starred commitments: 0

Commitments

KR0036 Public-Private Anti-Corruption System
KR0037 Management System for Performance Venues
KR0038 Real-Name Policy System
KR0039 Safety Inspection System
KR0040 Public Diplomacy System
KR0041 Open Communication Forum
KR0042 Citizen Participation in Policy-Making
KR0043 Disclosure of the Amount of Harmful Substance Contained in Foods
KR0044 Open Data
KR0045 Discosure of Cultural Heritage Resources
KR0046 Open National Priority Data
KR0047 Public Data Qulity Management
KR0048 Voluntary Compliance Customs Administration

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. Republic of Korea joined OGP in 2011. Since, Republic of Korea has implemented three action plans. This report evaluates the design of Republic of Korea’s fourth action plan.

General overview of action plan

Republic of  Korea’s fourth action plan aims to leverage the OGP platform to address a number of issues aligned with key domestic priorities, including reforms encapsulated in the government’s five-year plan. In particular, it seeks to respond to citizen calls for improved public engagement in decision-making. This is strongly reflected in the inclusion of commitments on the use of online and offline citizen engagement platforms, and endeavors to increase access to information in a number of areas, including the disclosure of information on food safety, local tourism, and cultural heritage resources. The plan also seeks to build on reform initiatives included in previous action plans through commitments on data disclosure and access to public services through technology.

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) led and coordinated the OGP process in the country, this time alongside the multistakeholder Open Government Forum Korea (OGFK). Compared to previous action plan cycles, the operation of the OGFK contributed to better efforts to raise public awareness and ensured a more balanced representation of government and civil society stakeholders in the OGP process. The OGFK called for commitment proposals, convened multistakeholder consultation workshops, and defined commitment selection criteria. Through an open call via the OGFK’s online platform, the forum received 67 commitment proposals from government agencies, civil society, and citizens. The OGFK hosted four selection meetings and two consultations to shortlist the proposals and facilitated a multistakeholder workshop to select the final 13 commitments included in the action plan.

The strong involvement of civil society in the OGFK and its conduct of iterative consultations characterized a collaborative process where civil society and citizens were able to help set the OGP agenda in Republic of Korea. The MOIS and other government agencies largely played the role of facilitator and provided a platform for discussion. However, introducing opportunities for remote participation and utilizing additional platforms and channels for stakeholder engagement would increase participation of an even wider group of stakeholders. Similarly, including more diverse civil society groups in the OGFK could also allow discussions to expand beyond primarily Seoul-based,[i] professional nongovernmental organizations already working in areas relevant to open government.

Out of the final 13 commitments, three are based on proposals from civil society and public consultations. The remaining ten were initiated by seven different government agencies. While proposals initiated by government may have implicitly received civil society endorsement, these numbers suggest a future opportunity for citizens and civil society priorities to better influence the selection criteria of final commitments. The MOIS published broad criteria for the selection of commitments online and engaged in an iterative review process with the OGFK. However, the MOIS did not publish reasoned responses behind key decisions, including justifications for commitment proposals not adopted.

The selected commitments range from promoting open data and increasing access to information, to strengthening government transparency and facilitating citizen participation in decision-making. Unlike previous action plans, all commitments included in this plan are relevant to OGP values and all of them are verifiable. This time, the IRM also assesses that five commitments (Commitments 1, 4, 6, 10, and 11) stand to have moderate potential impact and, if fully implemented, are likely to contribute to notable improvements in the status-quo of their respective policy areas. The ambition of these commitments can be stretched further with clearer expression of the nature and scope of related activities. However, as several commitments continue to narrowly build on existing initiatives or contain activities and milestones with limited clarity of scope, the IRM assesses that the majority of commitments would have minor potential impact on their respective issues.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of the implementation cycle.
10. Disclosure of the nation’s Priority Data

Expand ongoing efforts in public data disclosure to include areas such as the environment, health and safety, and new technologies.

The Public Data Policy Division at the Ministry of the Interior and Safety could continue to develop and expand efforts around public disclosure of high-value datasets, utilizing online and offline channels to identify public priorities and raise awareness on the availability of such data. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
11. Enhance Quality Management of Public Data

Produce higher quality public data and increase the usage of such data by citizens and businesses.

The Public Data Policy Division at the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, with the support of civil society, could also provide training and guidelines on ways in which data can be leveraged to inform or influence decision-making. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
5-2. Open Communication Forum “Gwanghwamoon 1st street”

Expand the online and offline public participation forum to increase citizen participation and input in decision-making.

The Public Participation Innovation Division at the Ministry of the Interior and Safety could consider developing more verifiable indicators and milestones to determine the extent to which the forum contributes to policy impact. The government could also improve the function of the forum by documenting, analyzing, and publishing its activities, and institutionalizing it through legislation. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.

Recommendations

IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan. Please refer to Section V: General Recommendations for more details on each of the below recommendations.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM Recommendations

Broaden and deepen public participation in the OGP process through proactive communication, wider consultations, and enhanced citizen engagement.
Design ambitious, relevant, and specific commitments in policy areas aligned with Republic of Korea’s OGP Steering Committee Co-Chair priorities.
Expand the scope and ambition of open data initiatives through stronger collaboration with citizens and civil society.
Consolidate public participation in the budget process by reinforcing existing participatory platforms and mechanisms.
Promote whistleblowing and combat corruption by strengthening and increasing public awareness of whistleblower protections and entitlements

 

[i] The OGFK member representing the Korea Association for Local Government and Administration is based outside Seoul.

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