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Presentation of Local Public Services (EE0052)



Action Plan: Estonia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active


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

Access to Information, E-Government, Open Data, 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



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.”


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),
[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.


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  2. Pilot new co-creation methodologies and tools

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  3. Conduct open government workshops for local governments

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  4. Develop co-creation processes at the local government level

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  5. Create guidelines to prevent unethical lobbying practices and conflicts of interest

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  6. Establish and train operators of confidential whistleblower hotline

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  7. Transparent and Inclusive Policy Making

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  8. Inclusive Policy-Making

    EE0049, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Riigikogu Transparency

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  10. National and Local Government Action Plans

    EE0051, 2018, Public Participation

  11. Presentation of Local Public Services

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  12. Participatiory Democracy Capacity-Building

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  13. e-Tax and Customs Board 2020

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

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

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

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  17. More Open and Transparent Law-Making

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

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  19. Intensify Participatory Budgeting on a Local Level

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

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

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  22. Visualisation of the Policy Making Process

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  23. Upgrading Participation Channels

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  24. Improving Government Website

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  25. Standard for Information Requests

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  26. Early Notice on Policy-Making Processes

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  27. Participation in Early Stage Policy-Making

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  28. Early Access to Tax Policy Decisions

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  29. Better Feedback Mechanism

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  30. Selecting and Funding Participation Projects

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  31. Web Tool for Submission of Collective Memoranda

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  32. Civil Servant Guidelines for Participation

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  33. Training Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)

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  34. Central Government Transactions

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  36. Public Spending for Non-Profits

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  38. Guidelines for Redesigning Public Services

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  41. Access to e-Services for Non-Residents

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  42. Open Data Portal

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  43. Opening Data

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  58. Establishment of the Public Ethics Council

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