Skip Navigation
Estonia

More Inclusive Policy-Making on a Central Government Level (EE0042)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Estonia’s Third OGP Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Government office

Support Institution(s): Ministries; Non-government organisations, social partners

Policy Areas

E-Government, Records Management

IRM Review

IRM Report: Estonia End-of-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Main aim Creating better abilities for participating in the earlier stage of policymaking. Standardising the engagement-related information of the government website and ministries and its manner of presentation. Introducing the practice of the initiation stage of EIS in ministries. Short description of the commitment (max 140 characters) The aim of the activity is to improve the availability of information about the government’s plans, which would enable earlier participation in policymaking. The full picture of engagement offered on the government website increases the comprehensibility of the policy-making process and offers a direct link to the engagement websites of ministries, where the interested parties can contribute to policy-making. The engagement sections ensure that it is not duplicating information. Instead, it offers the opportunity of the same function to move from the aggregate information of all ministries on the government website to more detailed information in the engagement section of a specific ministry. This section has more detailed information about the respective field and engagement activities in the areas of responsibility of the ministry. Introducing the practice of the initiation stage so that people are able to receive information for earlier participation in policy-making.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 4: More inclusive policy-making on a central government level

Commitment Text:

The aim of the activity is to improve the availability of information about the government’s plans, which would enable earlier participation in policy-making.

The full picture of engagement offered on the government website increases the comprehensibility of the policy-making process and offers a direct link to the engagement websites of ministries, where the interested parties can contribute to policy-making. The engagement sections ensure that it is not duplicating information. Instead, it offers the opportunity of the same function to move from the aggregate information of all ministries on the government website to more detailed information in the engagement section of a specific ministry. This section has more detailed information about the respective field and engagement activities in the areas of responsibility of the ministry.

Introducing the practice of the initiation stage so that people are able to receive information for earlier participation in policy-making.

Milestones:

4.1. Development of the engagement sections of ministries and introduction of practice

4.2. Introducing the practice of use of the initiation stage created for supporting earlier engagement as an Information System of Draft Acts (EIS) development

Responsible Institution: Government Office

Supporting Institutions: Ministries, non-governmental organizations, social partners

Start Date: 1 July 2016      

End Date: 30 June 2018

Commitment Aim

This commitment planned to increase public participation in the early stages of the policy cycle by improving information provision about participation opportunities on the ministries’ websites and upgrading the Information System of Draft Acts (EIS).[Note 30: EIS is a government information system used for the inter-institutional coordination of draft laws, policies, and strategies. It is also accessible for all other interested organizations and individuals, allowing all users to follow the proceedings of drafts, search for documents, and comment on drafts.]

Status

Midterm: Substantial

This commitment had been substantially completed by the midterm. By that time, all ministries and the Government Office had updated the public participation-related sections on their official websites and the Government Office worked with the ministries’ engagement coordinators to encourage ministries to use these participation sections in practice to elicit citizen involvement (milestone 4.1). For milestone 4.2, the new function for informing the public about the development of new draft laws had already been added to EIS in early 2016 during the previous action plan cycle. The Government Office prepared guidelines for all ministries for using the new function, but most ministries had not used this new function after the first year. A more detailed overview of the commitment status at the midterm is available in the IRM Progress Report.

End of Term: Substantial

At the end of the action plan period, the websites of all 11 ministries and the Government Office contained uniform general information about public participation opportunities in the policy-making process, and all had updated the participation section of their websites in 2017 or 2018. During the second year of the action plan, the Government Office made some additional efforts to promote the use of the ministries’ websites and the new functionality of EIS for citizen engagement in earlier policy-making phases. This involved communicating with the ministries’ public engagement coordinators and training activities. Toward the end of the action plan cycle, the Government Office and Ministry of Finance started a large-scale training program for public officials. The first training module involved a training day on citizen engagement that also included information on EIS.[Note 31: See the government’s end-of-term self-assessment report: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/estonia-end-term-self-assessment-report-2016-2018 ] The trainings have been implemented as part of Commitment 2 in Estonia’s fourth OGP action plan (2018–2020), and the program will continue into 2019.

According to the government’s end-of-term self-assessment report, engagement coordinators in ministries are responsible to monitor that information about the initiation of larger policy-making processes, such as the development of a strategy, is available on EIS earlier in the process. However, the self-assessment report and interviews with stakeholders[Note 32: Merilin Truuväärt (Government Office), interview by IRM researcher, 6 November 2018; Liia Hänni (e-Governance Academy), interview by IRM researcher, 6 November 2018] also reveal that the actual use of the early-phase participation function in EIS remains low due to users’ preference for other tools. This is attributed to EIS’s outdated technical platform and that many public officials responsible for policy making are not regular EIS users. Similarly, the analysis of ministries’ websites that the IRM researcher conducted for the end-of-term assessment shows that about half of the ministries (the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Justice, Ministry or Rural Affairs, Ministry of Education and Research) keep an up-to-date list of ongoing engagement initiatives in the participation sections or front page navigation bar of their websites.[Note 33: The ministries’ websites: https://www.envir.ee/et/kaasamine-osalemine/kaasamine-ja-osalemine; https://www.sm.ee/et; https://www.kul.ee/et; https://www.just.ee/et; https://www.hm.ee/et; https://www.agri.ee/et/kaasamine-osalemine/kaasamine-ja-osalemine  ] Other ministries only provide general information about the policy process and citizen participation opportunities.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Did Not Change

The Good Practice of Engagement, a collection of recommendations for state authorities for civic engagement, has been in place in Estonia for more than ten years. However, civil society organizations have noted a lack of information about the opportunities to participate in the early phases of policy-making.[Note 34: See the usability assessment of EIS from 2015: https://www.riigikantselei.ee/sites/default/files/content-editors/Failid/AVP/Osalusveeb%2C%20EIS%20lopparuanne_8-05-15.pdf ] The main aim of the commitment was to increase public access to information about civic participation opportunities and to encourage policy makers to engage citizens and civil society in the early phases of the policy-making cycle. Although all ministries had a dedicated citizen participation section on their official websites prior to the action plan, information on these sites was often insufficient or outdated. In addition, it was only possible to post draft laws to EIS when they had reached the final, inter-institutional coordination stage of the policy-drafting process.

As a result of the commitment, public access to information on participation opportunities improved to some extent with all 11 ministries having updated and improved the information on participation opportunities. The new features of EIS now provide the government more opportunities to share information about new policy initiatives and for citizens to learn about the government’s plans earlier in the policy cycle.

However, the activities have not resulted in a change in civic participation practices. Only about half of the ministries’ websites provide specific information about their own ongoing and upcoming initiatives in which citizens could participate, and only five ministries list the name and contact details of their engagement coordinators. The commitment has thus only had a marginal effect on access to information and no demonstrable effect on actual public participation. According to Liia Hänni (e-Governance Academy), one of the initiators of this commitment, ministries were also expected to promote the new participation features of EIS on their websites. So far, this has not been done. The lack of this information limits the likelihood of citizen participation in an ongoing policy-making process. EIS has also not been taken up as a tool for stakeholder engagement in the early policy planning stage. Ministries have used the new function a few times to provide information on an upcoming policy planning initiative, but no actual input or feedback has been submitted via this feature. Previous studies have found that civil society users find EIS complicated and uncomfortable to use and tend to prefer other channels for communication with government organizations.[Note 35: The usability assessment of EIS (2015)] As EIS was never originally designed as an online participation tool, the initiator of this commitment admits that EIS might work better as a tool for information provision rather than for active participation.[Note 36: Liia Hänni (e-Governance Academy), interview by IRM researcher, 6 November 2018

 

]

Carried Forward?

This commitment has been carried forward to Estonia’s fourth action plan. Commitment 1 of the 2018–2020 action plan (“Information technology supporting transparent and inclusive policy-making”) aims to develop the terms of reference for a new user-friendly government information system that would replace the current Information System of Draft Acts (EIS) and Osale.ee (an e-participation platform), including the public participation functionalities. In the next action plan, the government plans to develop the terms of reference for the new system through a collaborative process involving the Government Office, public sector organizations, and non-governmental interest groups.


Estonia's Commitments

  1. Transparent and Inclusive Policy Making

    EE0048, 2018, E-Government

  2. Inclusive Policy-Making

    EE0049, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Riigikogu Transparency

    EE0050, 2018, E-Government

  4. National and Local Government Action Plans

    EE0051, 2018, Public Service Delivery

  5. Presentation of Local Public Services

    EE0052, 2018, E-Government

  6. Participatiory Democracy Capacity-Building

    EE0053, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. e-Tax and Customs Board 2020

    EE0039, 2016, E-Government

  8. Reducing Bureaucracy and a Simpler State – the Zero Bureaucracy Project

    EE0040, 2016, Capacity Building

  9. Implementation of the Principles of Open Governance at Local Level as a Result of the Administrative Reform

    EE0041, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. More Inclusive Policy-Making on a Central Government Level

    EE0042, 2016, E-Government

  11. More Open and Transparent Law-Making

    EE0043, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  12. Increase of the Engagement Capacity of State Authorities and Participation Capacity of Nongovernmental Organisations in Policy-Making

    EE0044, 2016, Capacity Building

  13. Intensify Participatory Budgeting on a Local Level

    EE0045, 2016, E-Government

  14. Increasing the Transparency of the Funding of Non-Governmental Organisations

    EE0046, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  15. Defining Participatory Democracy and Development of Digital Competence in School Education

    EE0047, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Visualisation of the Policy Making Process

    EE0016, 2014, Public Participation

  17. Upgrading Participation Channels

    EE0017, 2014, E-Government

  18. Improving Government Website

    EE0018, 2014, E-Government

  19. Standard for Information Requests

    EE0019, 2014, E-Government

  20. Early Notice on Policy-Making Processes

    EE0020, 2014, Public Participation

  21. Participation in Early Stage Policy-Making

    EE0021, 2014, Public Participation

  22. Early Access to Tax Policy Decisions

    EE0022, 2014, Public Participation

  23. Better Feedback Mechanism

    EE0023, 2014, Public Participation

  24. Selecting and Funding Participation Projects

    EE0024, 2014, Civic Space

  25. Web Tool

    EE0025, 2014, E-Government

  26. Civil Servant Guidelines for Participation

    EE0026, 2014, Capacity Building

  27. Training Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)

    EE0027, 2014, Capacity Building

  28. Central Government Transactions

    EE0028, 2014, E-Government

  29. Local Authorities' Transactions with Private Entities

    EE0029, 2014, Civic Space

  30. Public Spending for Non-Profits

    EE0030, 2014, Civic Space

  31. Guidelines for Citizen Budgeting

    EE0031, 2014, Capacity Building

  32. Guidelines for Redesigning Public Services

    EE0032, 2014, E-Government

  33. Registry of Public Services

    EE0033, 2014, Open Data

  34. User-Centric Public Services

    EE0034, 2014, E-Government

  35. Access to e-Services for Non-Residents

    EE0035, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration

  36. Open Data Portal

    EE0036, 2014, E-Government

  37. Opening Data

    EE0037, 2014, Capacity Building

  38. Supporting Nongovernmental Open Data Use

    EE0038, 2014, Capacity Building

  39. Drawing up a Green Paper on Organisation of Public Services

    EE0001, 2012, Public Service Delivery

  40. Implementation of the Eesti.Ee Action Plan

    EE0002, 2012, E-Government

  41. Drawing up a Green Paper on Making Public Data Available in a Machine-Readable Form

    EE0003, 2012, E-Government

  42. Creating a Repository of Public Data

    EE0004, 2012, E-Government

  43. Launching Pilot Projects of Public Data Services Based on the Cloud Technology

    EE0005, 2012, E-Government

  44. Interactive Guidelines and Training in Implementation of the Good Practice of Public Engagement

    EE0006, 2012, Open Contracting and Procurement

  45. Launch of the Impact Assessment System

    EE0007, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  46. Overview of Ministries’ Work Processes

    EE0008, 2012, Capacity Building

  47. Integration of Impact Assessment Into the Process of Public Engagement

    EE0009, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  48. Creation of a Database of Declarations of Economic Interests

    EE0010, 2012, Conflicts of Interest

  49. Adjustment of the System of Funding Non-Profit Associations and Establishment of a Disclosure System

    EE0011, 2012, Private Sector

  50. Starred commitment Drawing up a Proposal for Drawing up an Anti-Corruption Strategy

    EE0012, 2012, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  51. Draft Anti-Corruption Act

    EE0013, 2012, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  52. Establishment of the Public Ethics Council

    EE0014, 2012, Conflicts of Interest

  53. Organisation of Ethics Training for Employees of Various Public Sector Organisations (Incl. Public Servants)

    EE0015, 2012, Capacity Building