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Estonia

Presentation of Local Public Services (EE0052)

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): The Government Office, The Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities, Estonian Cooperation Assembly

Policy Areas

E-Government, Open Data, Records Management, 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 Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Simple and user-friendly presentation of the local public service levels
Commitment Start and End Date
July 2018 – June 2020
Lead implementing agency/actor The Ministry of Finance
Other Actors Involved State actors involved The Government Office
CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups The Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities, Estonian Cooperation Assembly
Commitment description
What is the public problem that the commitment will address? The availability and quality of local public services varies across local governments. At the same time, there is no reference information on the service level, including quality and availability, which complicates improvements.
What is the commitment? The methodology and analysis completed in the summer of 2018 gives an overview of which services are provided in local governments and on what level. An attractive and comprehensive tool available for all citizens is developed based on this methodology and analysis, and each citizen, local government, and ministry can use this tool to view the data of their local government categorised by areas and compare these to Estonian averages and data of other local governments. The users can give feedback in the application.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem? The tool is a source of information for the citizens, offering knowledge on what arguments to use when participating in discussions and what service level to demand in local governments.
Simultaneously, it serves as a management tool for both local governments and the central government. Local governments can find out exactly what is done well and what needs improving. The local government can plan more exact intervention and support measures to improve the service quality.
Which OGP values is this commitment relevant to? Transparency
Additional information -
Milestone Activity Start Date: End Date:
Developing a presentation prototype in cooperation with partners July 2018 December 2018
Preparing terms of reference for the development in cooperation with partners July 2018 February 2019
Completion of the development February 2019 December 2019
Promoting active use of the tool January 2020 June 2020

IRM Midterm Status Summary

5. Simple and user-friendly presentation of the local public service levels

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan [59]:

“The methodology and analysis completed in the summer of 2018 gives an overview of which services are provided in local governments and on what level. An attractive and comprehensive tool available for all citizens is developed based on this methodology and analysis, and each citizen, local government, and ministry can use this tool to view the data of their local government categorised by areas and compare these to Estonian averages and data of other local governments. The users can give feedback in the application.”

Milestones:

5.1 Developing a presentation prototype in cooperation with partners

5.2 Preparing terms of reference for the development in cooperation with partners

5.3 Completion of the development

5.4 Promoting active use of the tool

Start Date: July 2018

End Date: June 2020

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to advance open government at the local level by improving information provision on the availability and quality of public services that local governments provide. This commitment was driven by the perceived uneven quality of public services in different parts of Estonia and citizens’ lack of access to information about their municipality’s performance. In its 2012 audit, the National Audit Office found that while the bulk of public services are provided at the municipality level, the central government has not set standards for the expected minimum level required of the services and has no overview of how well local municipalities perform their tasks. [60] Saar Poll’s 2014 study on citizens’ satisfaction with local public services also pointed to notable regional and local differences in public service quality. [61] One of the main objectives of the 2017 amalgamation of local municipalities was to improve the quality of local public services. [62] However, the level of public services has so far not been measured systematically.

In order to create a reference base for monitoring and improving the level of local public services, the Ministry of Finance is developing an ICT tool that would present and visualize local governments’ performance in a range of domains. According to the action plan, the tool has three target groups: 1) the public, who can use it to obtain information; 2) local governments, who can use it as a management tool and plan interventions to improve service quality; and 3) the central government, who can use it to compare local municipalities and devise policies. The tool will apply the methodology and detailed indicators developed by the University of Tartu Center for Applied Social Sciences and Geomedia, a consultancy.

The commitment is clearly relevant to the OGP value of access to information as the online tool would provide public access to information that has previously not been available. The four milestones of the commitment are verifiable, although the action plan does not say much about what information the ICT tool would eventually include and what functionalities it would provide to users. A better overview can be obtained from the University of Tartu’s and Geomedia’s analysis and methodology report, which proposes hundreds of evaluation criteria to measure local governments’ performance in 16 domains. [63] The proposed indicators also include certain open government indicators, such as the existence of an open government action plan, and regulations for CSO engagement and funding, etc. CSOs have high hopes for this activity and believe it could have a potentially transformative impact on open government at the local level, in particular on transparency. Teele Pehk and Maarja-Leena Saar (Estonian Cooperation Assembly) both see it as a step forward in developing civic technology and emphasize the value of the data that would be collected and published. [64] They suggest the datasets should be released as open data to enable their reuse by interested stakeholders. If this is achieved, the commitment may also involve enriching the open data landscape in Estonia with hundreds of new high-value datasets. Liia Hänni, from the e-Governance Academy, believes this activity could create potential synergies with developing open government action plans in local municipalities as it would help analyze the situation of open government in municipalities and identify gaps. [65] The Ministry of Finance indeed plans to start regularly monitoring the implementation of local open government action plans as part of data collection on local-level public service quality and publish the results through the ICT tool. [66] According to Ott Kasuri from the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities (AECM), the ICT tool could serve as a useful means for visualizing strategic processes and planning the development of new services. [67]

Next steps

This commitment uses state-of-the-art means to address an important gap. However, in order to transform the status quo, the Ministry of Finance should plan additional activities to ensure the targeted stakeholders will actually use the ICT tool. It is also advisable to devise measures for feeding the information revealed through the tool into policy to support the municipalities that lag behind. The IRM researcher therefore advises to continue this commitment in the next action plan and expand it to include these supportive measures. The following considerations may be useful when implementing the commitment and planning the next steps:

  • The Ministry of Finance could design the system development in a collaborative way to involve representatives of the key user groups and make sure their needs are addressed in the system’s design. The process should also involve disabled people, in particular those with visual impairments, e.g. experts from the Estonian Blind Union. According to Andrus Jõgi (Ministry of Finance), the ministry plans to make the application usable for color-blind people by using icons and numerical values where possible. [68] In the next action plan, the ministry could continue this commitment and include activities to promote the use of the tool among all intended target groups.
  • The ministry could prioritize designing processes for data collection that would be standardized and automatized to the extent possible in order to ensure users’ continued access to up-to-date data without the need for extensive manual work. According to Andrus Jõgi, data collection will involve a lot of manual work in the first years, but the ministry plans to gradually automatize the process, once it becomes clear which datasets are used more and which data can be obtained and updated at a reasonable cost. [69]
  • For a broader impact, the data collected for the ICT tool could be published on the Estonian national open data portal in the form of open, downloadable and machine-readable datasets. Maarja-Leena Saar (Estonian Cooperation Assembly) suggests adding an open license to all the data used in the tool and encouraging citizens to reuse the data for new applications and projects. [70] In her view, the next OGP action plan could include activities to monitor the compliance of the data with open data standards and to promote data reuse by non-governmental stakeholders.
  • In order to further advance open government values, the ministry could pay special attention to refining (and possibly adding) indicators that reflect the state of open government practices in municipalities. These indicators should be developed and selected in collaboration with CSOs.
  • To achieve the expected impact and avoid unwanted outcomes, the IRM researcher highly recommends the Ministry of Finance devise a comprehensive plan for transferring the knowledge obtained through using the tool into actual policy measures. According to Krista Habakukk (Kodukant, the Village Movement), publishing data about municipalities’ performance is good for transparency but also entails the risk of exacerbating already existing inequalities between municipalities. [71] She notes that simply publishing rankings may result in increased migration to municipalities that have more resources to provide better services, accelerating the marginalization of municipalities with fewer resources. Habakukk expects the government to have a clear plan for helping the municipalities that lag behind to improve their services and governance practices.
  • Finally, the impact of the ICT tool could also be increased by using it to help municipalities develop innovative data-driven services to citizens. According to Ott Kasuri (AECM), municipalities should increasingly develop proactive services, for example by issuing citizens automated notifications about school or kindergarten places, and eligibility for social benefits, etc. [72] Municipalities’ obligation to regularly provide data for the ICT tool could also help improve their data management practices, which would facilitate the use of data for service provision.
[60] National Audit Office, Assumptions for provision of public services in small and remote local authorities (2012), https://www.riigikontroll.ee/DesktopModules/DigiDetail/FileDownloader.aspx?FileId=11431&AuditId=2210
[63] Tartu Ülikooli sotsiaalteaduslike rakendusuuringute keskus RAKE, Geomedia OÜ, Kohalike avalike teenuste seire metoodika väljatöötamine ja testimine ning analüüsi läbiviimine (2018).
[64] IRM researcher’s interview with Teele Pehk (former Estonian Cooperation Assembly), 12 March 2019; IRM researcher’s interview with Maarja-Leena Saar (Estonian Cooperation Assembly), 29 March 2019. Maarja-Leena Saar is also a member of the board of Open Knowledge Estonia, a non-governmental organization and member of Open Knowledge International that works to advance open knowledge and open data.
[65] IRM researcher’s interview with Liia Hänni (e-Governance Academy), 27 March 2019.
[66] Email from Kaie Küngas (Ministry of Finance), 15 April 2019.
[67] IRM researcher’s email communication with Ott Kasuri (Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities), 29 March 2019.
[68] IRM researcher’s email communication with Andrus Jõgi (Ministry of Finance), 21-22 March 2019.
[69] IRM researcher’s email communication with Andrus Jõgi.
[70] IRM researcher’s interview with Maarja-Leena Saar.
[71] IRM researcher’s interview with Krista Habakukk (Kodukant, the Village Movement), 29 March 2019.
[72] 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