Skip Navigation
Estonia

National and Local Government Action Plans (EE0051)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Estonia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: The Ministry of Finance

Support Institution(s): Municipalities, The Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities, e-Governance Academy

Policy Areas

Public Service Delivery, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Estonia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Developing open government action plans and activities in local governments
Commitment Start and End Date
September 2018 – December 2020
Lead implementing agency/actor The Ministry of Finance
Other Actors Involved State actors involved Municipalities
CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups The Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities, e-Governance Academy
Commitment description
What is the public problem that the commitment will address? Following the 2017 administrative-territorial reform, there are 79 local governments in Estonia, most of which adhere to the principles of open government (e.g. publishing information on their web site, youth councils, broadcasts of council sittings on VOLIS, inclusive budgeting) but do not always comprehensively think through their activities and implement them systematically. Some local governments lack engagement of the public and non-governmental organisations, others do not publish their activities sufficiently, do not notify, etc.

In the framework of the 2016–2018 OGP Action Plan, the e-Governance Academy helped to develop an action plan for an open government in two joined local governments, Elva and Lääneranna, and prepared general recommendations for an open government in all local governments . Further activities are required to introduce these recommendations to local leaders as well as citizens and take action.
What is the commitment? Supported by the European Social Fund, the Ministry of Finance is organising a call for proposals to increase the cooperation and leadership capabilities of local governments, enabling, among other things, application for support for promoting an open government; applications can be submitted by all local governments, their associations, organisations engaged in other areas, and non-governmental associations that wish to contribute to raising awareness on activities of open government or its implementation on the local level.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem? Awareness on the principles of open government is increased and following these principles ensures more efficient participation of citizens and better availability of information related to decision-forming.
Which OGP values is this commitment relevant to? Transparency
Civic participation
Additional information The exact budget and number of projects depends on the applications submitted to local government and outcomes of assessing the projects in comparison to other projects. The activity is funded from the administrative capacity priority axis measures.
Milestone Activity Start Date: End Date:
Discussing the conditions of the call for proposals with stakeholders. September 2018 September 2018
Announcing the call for proposal. October 2018 December 2018
At least five local governments have developed their open government action plans or implemented activities that increase awareness on the open government principles and their implementation. December 2018 December 2020

IRM Midterm Status Summary

4. Developing open government action plans and activities in local governments

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan [44]:

“Supported by the European Social Fund, the Ministry of Finance is organising a call for proposals to increase the cooperation and leadership capabilities of local governments, enabling, among other things, application for support for promoting an open government; applications can be submitted by all local governments, their associations, organisations engaged in other areas, and non-governmental associations that wish to contribute to raising awareness on activities of open government or its implementation on the local level.”

Milestones:

4.1 Discussing the conditions of the call for proposals with stakeholders

4.2 Announcing the call for proposal

4.3 At least five local governments have developed their open government action plans or implemented activities that increase awareness on the open government principles and their implementation

Start Date: September 2018

End Date: December 2020

Context and Objectives

This commitment carries on the previous action plan’s work in addressing the gaps in implementing open government principles in Estonian local municipalities. According to the problem statement in the action plan, most municipalities adhere to open government values but their approach to implementing open government principles is not systematic, in particular in providing opportunities for public access to information and citizen participation. Some steps have already been taken. In 2014-2016 the e-Governance Academy carried out the project “Open Government Partnership in Local Municipalities” [45] where eight local municipalities adopted a local plan for implementing open government principles. In 2017, the government finalized a large-scale administrative-territorial reform which reduced the number of local governments from 213 to 79 and affected the work of most municipalities. Immediately after the reform, the e-Governance Academy implemented the test project “Open Government in Merging Municipalities” [46] in two local municipalities (Elva and Lääneranna) that had recently gone through mergers. As a result of a collaborative process, the Academy developed tailored recommendations for implementing open government principles in the two municipalities and generic recommendations for other local governments. [47]

Krista Habakukk from the Estonian Village Movement Kodukant agrees that the newly-merged post-reform municipalities need to build new structures for interaction and collaboration with local communities and many need support in developing open government practices. [48] According to Kodukant, communities perceive a need for strengthening the position of “village elders” and local community leaders as mediators between the community and the local government. Both local officials and CSOs also need systematic training to develop skills for democratic involvement and participation. According to Ott Kasuri from the Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities (AECM), municipalities could benefit from capacity building in management and collaboration skills as well as community involvement and open communication with citizens. [49]

This commitment builds on the results of the previous projects to encourage more municipalities to adopt open government action plans. According to Kaie Küngas from the Ministry of Finance, the government’s main aim is to increase local municipalities’ awareness of open government. [50] To this end, the Ministry of Finance plans to fund the development of local open government action plans through a European Social Fund’s (ESF) call for proposals. As the local governments are free to develop the content of these projects, the relevance of the commitment to OGP values will only be revealed once the projects have been chosen. However, based on the focus of similar projects in the previous action plan, this commitment can be assessed as potentially relevant to access to information and civic participation. Ott Kasuri (AECM) believes that funding such projects is a much-needed support measure for local governments that helps scale up the results of previous projects and foster an open governance culture. [51]

The commitment has three verifiable milestones, which involve discussing the call for proposals with relevant stakeholders, announcing the call, and implementing open government projects in at least five local governments. Despite this quantitative target, the action plan states that the exact number of funded projects depends on the number of applications submitted and the budget limitations. According to Kaie Küngas from the Ministry of Finance, the ministry’s actual interpretation of this milestone is flexible – besides the projects funded under the ESF call, they also count local municipalities’ own initiatives of developing open government action plans as well as the ministry’s support activities towards the target. [52] As an example of the latter, the ministry plans to conduct an open government information day for municipalities with the e-Governance Academy in 2019.

Despite its relevance, the commitment only addresses part of local municipalities’ needs. It does so at a small scale by implementing five projects, out of which one may include carrying out an information event for municipalities. During the action plan development, the e-Governance Academy proposed to fund at least 20 projects. However, due to budget limitations and the uncertainty about the number of municipalities that would want to implement open government projects, the ministry reduced this to five. [53] Although this is not a particularly ambitious goal, the ministry has taken means to widely promote the ESF funding opportunity among local governments and share the existing good practices beyond the municipalities that have implemented open government projects. [54] This allows the potential impact of this commitment to be assessed as moderate in case the existing plans are followed through. While funding individual projects and conducting information, events are an important step towards the government’s objectives, achieving a major impact would still require a more systematic and diverse set of activities on a much larger scale.

Next steps

The needs and gaps that stakeholders identified and the positive results of the test projects of the previous action plan indicate the value and importance of OGP commitments targeted to local municipalities. Therefore, the IRM researcher recommends the government carry this commitment forward to the next action plan and design a more systematic set of activities with more ambitious goals. Instead of funding a few projects in individual municipalities, the Ministry of Finance could involve AECM and CSOs such as the e-Governance Academy, Kodukant and the Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations (NENO) to jointly develop a comprehensive program for advancing open government and participatory democracy in local municipalities. The program could include diverse measures, such as:

  • Conduct awareness-raising activities to disseminate information on open government values and Open Government Partnership, existing success stories (e.g. Elva municipality) and guidelines (e.g. instructions for implementing participatory budgeting at the local level developed as part of the previous OGP action plan [55]).
  • Provide continued financial support to municipalities for developing local open government action plans. The Ministry of Finance could support these efforts by disseminating information on previous similar projects, so that new applicants can learn from the results. The collaborative action plan development process that the e-Governance Academy applied in previous projects appears to be a potentially useful model to replicate.
  • Provide regular counselling to municipalities that are interested in building structures and processes to support open government values.
  • Design a training program on democratic participation and engagement targeted to local municipalities’ officials and CSO stakeholders. Although the ongoing training program for officials (Commitment 2 of this action plan) also targets local government officials, the government could consider developing a specialized training program that is tailored to the needs and particularities of decision-making processes at the local level. In the view of Krista Habakukk (Kodukant, The Village Movement), one of the crucial areas to work in should be trust-building between local-level decision-makers and local communities. [56] Joint trainings and a platform for constructively discussing local issues could be one way of helping increase mutual trust.
  • According to Habakukk, village elders have also raised the need for a potential legislative amendment in the Local Government Organization Act to support citizens’ use of the right to initiate legislation. The current law allows the residents of a municipality to make legislative proposals to the local government if signed by at least 1 percent of the municipality’s residents. [57] However, in the new and large municipalities, smaller and more remote communities within the municipality may find it more difficult to collect the signatures of at least 1 percent of residents and may thus be in an unequal position to use this democracy instrument.
  • Finally, Ott Kasuri (AECM) notes that the Ministry of Finance and local governments could also consider further developing the KOVTP and VOLIS information systems that many municipalities use to interact with citizens, broadcast local assemblies’ sittings, implement participatory budgeting processes, and so on. [58] According to Kasuri, this requires solving the question of funding and ownership of these systems.
[47] This project was implemented as part of Estonia’s OGP action plan 2016-2018. The IRM end-of-term report contains a more detailed discussion of the results, http://live-ogp.pantheonsite.io/sites/default/files/Estonia_End-of-Term_Report_2016-2018_EN.pdf
[48] IRM researcher’s interview with Krista Habakukk (Kodukant, the Village Movement), 29 March 2019.
[49] IRM researcher’s email communication with Ott Kasuri (Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities), 29 March 2019.
[50] IRM researcher’s interview with Kaie Küngas (Ministry of Finance), 28 March 2019.
[51] IRM researcher’s email communication with Ott Kasuri.
[52] IRM researcher’s interview with Kaie Küngas.
[53] IRM researcher’s interview with Liia Hänni (e-Governance Academy), 27 March 2019.
[54] The IRM researcher obtained this information from Kaie Küngas (Ministry of Finance) during the pre-publication review of this report.
[56] IRM researcher’s interview with Krista Habakukk.
[57] Chapter 4 of the Local Government Organization Act, https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/506112013013/consolide/current
[58] IRM researcher’s email communication with Ott Kasuri.

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