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Finland

Government as an Enabler (FI0020)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Finland, Second Action Plan, 2015-17

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Communication

Support Institution(s): CSOs, Advisory board on civil society policy

Policy Areas

E-Government, Open Data, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Finland End-of-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

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

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Issue to be addressed: Opening the government data. The opening of government data has started. Many important databases have been opened. The financing of the opening of government data is now part of the frame –budgeting process of the government. The ministries propose yearly, which databases within their administrative branch should be opened. All the databases cannot be opened at once due to the lack of resources and differences in the maturity of agencies. The databases, which are planned to be opened, have to be prioritized. A common platform (avoindata.fi) for open data and interoperability services has been launched by the Open Data Program, which is steered by Ministry of Finance. Agencies and municipalities have been given guidance on opening the data. Finland scores fourth in the international Global Open Data Index comparison. However, the opening of government data is just at the beginning phase. During the drafting of the Action Plan a need to open several data reserves, which are considered important, was raised. These are: companies’ and corporations’ data, notifications on forest usage, decisions on use of forest owned by government, environmental impact assessments, public procurement, agencies’ plans to open data and other central data reserves. Some of this data is already open, but they are hard to find from the agencies’ web-pages. The accessibility of open data has been enhanced by opening the avoindata.fi –portal, where links and metadata on open data are. Processes for handling the suggestions of data reserves to be opened will be created within the Open Data Program, which ends in July 2015. The possibilities, limitations and actions needed to open the data reserves, which have been suggested to be opened, need to be studied. The amount of work has to be evaluated and the data reserves have to be prioritized. Digitalization brings the services close to citizens The society is rapidly becoming urbanized. The government is reforming services by centralizing and digitizing. Digital services raise productivity; enhance the possibilities of special groups to use services and bring services to places, where other services do not exist anymore. Citizens, including people with special needs, have to be taken into the service planning process to create services, which are easy to use. eDemocracy- services have been developed since the beginning of 21st century. The renewed portal of wide range of eDemocracy –services is partly in a piloting phase. Prerequisites of volunteer work are supported
Government, municipalities and civil society cooperate and work as partners. Volunteer work is supported by several ministries and municipalities. Processes in different ministries and municipalities are different. There is now co-ordination between ministries. There is a lack of co-ordination also in many municipalities.
Main Objective: Government enables opportunities for businesses and civil society by opening government data reserves and tearing down obstacles for volunteer work. Participation and use of public services in rural areas is enhanced by digitalizing services. Milestones and Indicators: 1. Established procedures to open data sets which are significant to open, efficient, accountable and transparent administration. Possibilities to open these data sets are investigated and priorities order is set. Results are published and follow-up is organized. 2. Citizens have a possibility to view their personal records kept by the authorities through one single service. Indicator: Number of state agencies and municipalities joined to this service. 3. Drafted proposal of how to support to preconditions of voluntary work should be coordinated within the government. 4. Drafted proposals of removing the barriers of voluntary work and analysis of their impact. 5. Together with CSOs and municipalities practices to improve possibilities of e-participation of people with special needs and of people living in rural areas are created. 6. Citizens have access to e-services also in rural areas. 7. e-participation tools (demokratia.fi, kansalaisaloite.fi, kuntalaisaloite.fi, lausuntopalvelu.fi, nuortenideat.fi, otakantaa.fi) are actively used by the public sector and the civil society. Indicator: Number of users. 8. CSOs and citizens organizing voluntary work have an easy access to information they need for this. 9. Democracy recognition is given to two civil servants (one from the state administration and one from the municipal sector) for their activities in enhancing open government.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Commitment 2. Government as an Enabler

Commitment Text:

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed:

Opening the government data

The opening of government data has started. Many important databases have been opened. The financing of the opening of government data is now part of the frame –budgeting process of the government. The ministries propose yearly, which databases within their administrative branch should be opened. All the databases cannot be opened at once due to the lack of resources and differences in the maturity of agencies. The databases, which are planned to be opened, have to be prioritized.

A common platform (avoindata.fi) for open data and interoperability services has been launched by the Open Data Program, which is steered by Ministry of

Finance. Agencies and municipalities have been given guidance on opening the data. Finland scores fourth in the international Global Open Data Index comparison.

However, the opening of government data is just at the beginning phase.

During the drafting of the Action Plan a need to open several data reserves, which are considered important, was raised. These are: companies’ and corporations’ data, notifications on forest usage, decisions on use of forest owned by government, environmental impact assessments, public procurement, agencies’ plans to

open data and other central data reserves. Some of this data is already open, but they are hard to find from the agencies’ web-pages. The accessibility of open data has been enhanced by opening the avoindata.fi – portal, where links and metadata on open data are.

                             

Processes for handling the suggestions of data reserves to be opened will be created within the Open Data Program, which ends in July 2015. The possibilities, limitations and actions needed to open the data reserves, which have been suggested to be opened, need to be studied. The amount of work has to be evaluated and the data reserves have to be prioritized.

Digitalization brings the services close to citizens

The society is rapidly becoming urbanized. The government is reforming services by centralizing and digitizing. Digital services raise productivity; enhance the possibilities of special groups to use services and bring services to places, where other services do not exist anymore. Citizens, including people with special needs, have to be taken into the service planning process to create services, which are easy to use. eDemocracy- services have been developed since the beginning of 21st century. The renewed portal of wide range of eDemocracy –services is partly in a piloting phase.

Prerequisites of volunteer work are supported

Government, municipalities and civil society cooperate and work as partners. Volunteer work is supported by several ministries and municipalities. Processes in different ministries and municipalities are different. There is now co-ordination between ministries. There is a lack of co-ordination also in many municipalities.

Main Objective:

Government enables opportunities for businesses and civil society by opening government data reserves and tearing down obstacles for volunteer work. Participation and use of public services in rural areas is enhanced by digitalizing services.

Milestones:

1. Established procedures to open data sets which are significant to open, efficient, accountable and transparent administration. Possibilities to open these data sets are investigated and priorities order is set. Results are published and follow-up is organized. 
 

2. Citizens have a possibility to view their personal records kept by the authorities through one single service. Indicator: Number of state agencies and municipalities joined to this service.

3. Drafted proposal of how to support to preconditions of voluntary work should be coordinated within the government.

4. Drafted proposals of removing the barriers of voluntary work and analysis of their impact.

5. Together with CSOs and municipalities practices to improve possibilities of e-participation of people with special needs and of people living in rural areas are created.

6. Citizens have access to e-services also in rural areas.

7. e-participation tools (demokratia.fi, kansalaisaloite.fi, kuntalaisaloite.fi, lausuntopalvelu.fi, nuortenideat.fi, otakantaa.fi) are actively used by the public sector and the civil society. Indicator: Number of users.

8. CSOs and citizens organizing voluntary work have an easy access to information they need for this.

9. Democracy recognition is given to two civil servants (one from the state administration and one from the municipal sector) for their activities in enhancing open government.

Responsible institution(s): Ministries of Finance, Justice, and Communication

Supporting institution(s): Ministries, agencies, municipalities, Association of local and regional authorities, CSOs, Advisory board on civil society policy

Start date: 1.7.2015..............                                     End date: 30.6.2017

 
Context and Objectives

In general, this commitment aims to improve citizens’ access to information and provide opportunities for citizens to participate in decision making through e-participation tools. It includes three distinctive sets of milestones which address different thematic problems: open data milestones (2.1 and 2.2) carried over from the previous action plan; milestones to enhance government support for voluntary work (2.3, 2.4, and 2.8); and milestones related to improving access to services and enhancing civic participation in rural areas through e-services (2.5, 2.6, and 2.7). The commitment also includes a democracy recognition milestone (2.9), which is unrelated to the others and of unclear relevance to OGP.

Open data:

Access to government data is a cornerstone of open government. Finland is ranked highly in different open data indexes,  Fifth in Global Open Data Index 2015, 11th in Open Data Barometer: http://index.okfn.org/place/finland/ and http://opendatabarometer.org/data-explorer/?_year=2015&indicator=ODB&lang=en&open=FIN.  but there are significant differences between ministries, agencies, and municipalities in open data practices. Activities under the open data theme serve to improve the ease of citizens’ access to government-held information.

Voluntary work information:

Four out of five Finnish citizens are interested in voluntary work, and almost half of the population takes part in some volunteer activity.  http://www.kansalaisareena.fi/.  However, coordination between government agencies and regulatory bodies varies, and information on voluntary work can be difficult to access. Civil society organizations promoted the inclusion of milestones to improve access to information about voluntary work regulations. Promoting and creating simple processes for engaging in volunteer work is laudable but of unclear relevance to OGP values.

Participation and e-services:

Increasingly, service provision and decision making is concentrated in a few major urban centers. For this reason, groups such as people with special needs and citizens (especially the elderly) in rural areas often lack opportunities to participate in government and access e-services. The third thematic area of this commitment seeks to improve e-participation opportunities in cooperation with CSOs and municipalities, through expanding existing e-participation tools.

Completion

Milestones 2.1 and 2.2 (open data):

2.1. The government published a guide for opening data as a part of the Ministry of Finance’s Open Data Programme, drawing on international best practices. In addition, the government has been steadily opening datasets and publishing them in the newly created avoindata.fi, an online service platform.  https://www.avoindata.fi/en.  Data published during the commitment period includes occupational health and safety information, information on candidates in the 2015 parliamentary elections, yearly revenue and expenditure for Finnish cities, environmental data from the National Satellite Centre, and data from various industries.  Open data and interoperability tools: https://www.avoindata.fi/en.  At the midterm, the government had not determined priority datasets for future publication.

2.2. The Ministry of Finance led an initiative through the National Architecture of Digital Services Project (KAPA) to improve citizens’ ability to quickly and easily access personal data recorded by the government,  http://vm.fi/en/national-architecture-for-digital-services.  An updated version of the Suomi.fi (Finland.fi) web portal is underway, and through it citizens will be able to access e-services and public records in one location.  Suomi-fi is a website that aims to collect different government services and information on one, centralized site for easy access for citizens. It’s still in the test phase; the full version should be launched in 2017: http://www.suomi.fi/suomifi/english/index.html.  As of the June 2016, citizens can use the beta version of the site to access personal vehicle registration data  Vehicle registration and tax information: https://asiointi.trafi.fi/en/web/asiointi/organisaatiot/tieliikenne/ajoneuvotietopalvelut.  and estate data.  Finland Midterm Report Self-Assessment, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/country/finland/assessment.  The service will be fully functional in 2017. According to the government self-assessment report, agencies and municipalities are being encouraged to add data reserves that include personal data to the Suomi.fi service.

Milestones 2.3, 2.4, and 2.8 (voluntary work information):

2.3. During implementation, the Ministry of Justice was named as the coordinating ministry regarding voluntary work. Additionally, the Democracy Network, comprised of representatives from all ministries, is overseeing implementation of activities to update voluntary work information.  Ibid.  The Ministry of Justice has created a website where guidance and advice has been gathered for groups organizing voluntary work and for people interested in participating in voluntary work.  http://www.demokratia.fi/tietotori/vapaaehtoistyo/.   These pages will later be transferred to the Suomi.fi web service.

2.4. A working group consisting of civil servants as well as CSO representatives completed a report on the barriers to voluntary work. Minister of Local Government and Local Reforms Anu Vehviläinen received it on 14 October 2015, and the report is publicly available online.  http://vm.fi/artikkeli/-/asset_publisher/vapaaehtoistyo-talkootyo-naapuriapu-kaikki-kay.  A CSO representative from the Citizen Forum  Interview, 29 September 2016.  also said that the implementation process is advancing well but that further commitments are needed to recognize and remove new barriers to voluntary work.

2.8. The Ministry of Justice has opened a website that compiles information and guidance for organizations as well as for individuals engaging in volunteer work.  http://www.demokratia.fi/tietotori/vapaaehtoistyo/.  The website will be part of the Suomi.fi portal once it is fully operational later in 2017. According to the Citizen Forum representative, the current site is still a work in progress and lacks some relevant information.  Interview, 29 September 2016.  In addition, officials have yet to development guidelines. The CSO representative expressed hopes that these problems will be solved once the Suomi.fi portal is officially launched.   

Milestones 2.5, 2.6, and 2.7 (participation and e-services):
 

2.5. At the midterm, activities to improve access to e-participation tools for citizens in rural areas and for special needs groups have not started. According to the government self-assessment report, the planning is delayed and should start in fall 2016.

2.6. In order to improve access to e-services in remote areas of the country, the government is continuing a “Broadband for All 2015” initiative under this commitment. Plans to continue increasing broadband speeds and connecting the country by increasing fiber build-out are underway; however, such activities are not directly relevant to OGP values.

2.7. The Ministry of Justice has launched several campaigns to raise awareness about the different e-participation services. The self-assessment report states that there have been several trainings for ministries and municipalities and that services have been promoted at events for both civil servants and the general public. In late 2015, the government conducted a national marketing campaign to publicize the e-participation portal for youth: Nuortenideat.fi.  Finland Midterm Report Self-Assessment, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/country/finland/assessment.  The marketing campaign advertised e-services on multiple channels, including social media, television campaigns, newsletters, and ads in magazines.  Demokratia.fi is an online platform that collects different e-participation services and includes information on events and campaigns: http://www.demokratia.fi/nyt/.  In 2016 e-participation efforts concentrated on promoting Lausuntopalvelu.fi (Consultation.fi) and Otakantaa.fi (Share your views with us). These sites allow citizens to provide input and feedback on government programs. According to the government self-assessment report, all ministries will receive information about this service as part of their training on consultation guidelines for drafting laws. According to a CSO representative interviewed, the campaigns have been somewhat successful. The government has provided the number of website visitors, consultations carried out, and projects initiated by e-participation tools.

2.9. A democracy recognition  award winner was selected  for the second time in a Democracy Day event on 13 October 2015 and is complete.

Early results (if any)

According to a government representative, Avointieto.fi has published open datasets that have been used by journalists. Although of unclear relevance to OGP values, the government drafted proposals to improve the volunteer process (milestones 2.3 and 2.4). A CSO representative saw these as important steps in fostering cooperation between civil society and civil servants committed to the process.

The use of e-participation tools has increased. The government self-assessment viewed the 2015 online campaigns promoting the e-participation services in Demokratia.fi as a success. The campaign reached 700,696 individual users through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and search engine marketing, far exceeding the goal of 415,000. Citizen participation through online tools also trended upwards from January 2016 to a peak in September 2016. A representative of Open Knowledge Finland stated that the services have been well received by civil society and the public.  Interview with member of Open Knowledge Finland, 18 November 2016.  This CSO also cited that the government has made online participation tools more useful for citizens. In particular, Kansalaisaloite.fi,  https://www.kansalaisaloite.fi/fi.  a service for citizens to propose new legislation, has seen increasing use since its inception in 2012. The Lausuntopalvelu.fi (Leave your comment) online service allowing public commenting on new laws, policies, and guidelines, has been updated so that citizens can provide paragraph-by-paragraph critiques of uploaded documents.  Interview with member of Open Knowledge Finland.  According to the CSO representative,  Ibid.  this commitment could result in a significant change in government practice regarding citizen participation in drafting legislation, and valuable progress has been made. For details on site traffic and use, see the following table:

From the government’s self-assessment report

Next steps

The commitment includes themes that could be taken forward to the next action plan, but it requires more specific, measurable activities. IRM researcher recommends dividing the milestone themes (improving e-participation, publishing volunteer work regulations, and increasing data access) into three distinct commitments, creating clear goals and specifying measurable activities to reach them.

Consultations with CSOs and citizen surveys should be used to determine additional priority datasets to publish. The biggest problem, according to a CSO representative from Open Knowledge Finland  Ibid.  and a government representative from the Ministry of Finance’s OGP team,  Interview, 20 September 2016.  is that the “build it and they will come” approach is not working and the government needs to actively publicize and promote its open data services. When the Suomi.fi (Finland.fi) portal is officially launched, government agencies and municipalities should be actively encouraged to share their data on the service.

In order to improve government practice in promoting civic participation, activities to increase online engagement in governance should include a clear mechanism for rural and special needs citizens to provide feedback on governance proposals. During the remaining commitment period and in the new action plan, increased efforts should be made to provide a means of capturing and including input from these groups.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 2. Government as enabler

Commitment Text:

Opening the government data

The opening of government data has started. Many important databases have been opened. The financing of the opening of government data is now part of the frame –budgeting process of the government. The ministries propose yearly, which databases within their administrative branch should be opened. All the databases cannot be opened at once due to the lack of resources and differences in the maturity of agencies.

The databases, which are planned to be opened, have to be prioritized. A common platform (avoindata.fi) for open data and interoperability services has been launched by the Open Data Program, which is steered by Ministry of Finance. Agencies and municipalities have been given guidance on opening the data. Finland scores fourth in the international Global Open Data Index comparison. However, the opening of government data is just at the beginning phase.

During the drafting of the Action Plan a need to open several data reserves, which are considered important, was raised. These are: companies’ and corporations’ data, notifications on forest usage, decisions on use of forest owned by government, environmental impact assessments, public procurement, agencies’ plans to open data and other central data reserves. Some of this data is already open, but they are hard to find from the agencies’ web-pages. The accessibility of open data has been enhanced by opening the avoindata.fi –portal, where links and metadata on open data are.

Processes for handling the suggestions of data reserves to be opened will be created within the Open Data Program, which ends in July 2015. The possibilities, limitations and actions needed to open the data reserves, which have been suggested to be opened, need to be studied. The amount of work has to be evaluated and the data reserves have to be prioritized.

Digitalization brings the services close to citizens

The society is rapidly becoming urbanized. The government is reforming services by centralizing and digitizing. Digital services raise productivity; enhance the possibilities of special groups to use services and bring services to places, where other services do not exist anymore. Citizens, including people with special needs, have to be taken into the service planning process to create services, which are easy to use. eDemocracy- services have been developed since the beginning of 21st century. The renewed portal of wide range of eDemocracy –services is partly in a piloting phase.

Prerequisites of volunteer work are supported

Government, municipalities and civil society cooperate and work as partners. Volunteer work is supported by several ministries and municipalities. Processes in different ministries and municipalities are different. There is now co-ordination between ministries. There is a lack of co-ordination also in many municipalities.

Main objective

Government enables opportunities for businesses and civil society by opening government data reserves and tearing down obstacles for volunteer work. Participation and use of public services in rural areas is enhanced by digitalizing services.

Milestones:

2.1 Established procedures to open data sets which are significant to open, efficient, accountable and transparent administration. Possibilities to open these data sets are investigated and priorities order 25 is set. Results are published and follow-up is organized.

2.2. Citizens have a possibility to view their personal records kept by the authorities through one single service. Indicator: Number of state agencies and municipalities joined to this service.

2.3. Drafted proposal of how to support to preconditions of voluntary work should be coordinated within the government.

2.4. Drafted proposals of removing the barriers of voluntary work and analysis of their impact.

2.5. Together with CSOs and municipalities practices to improve possibilities of e-participation of people with special needs and of people living in rural areas are created.

2.6. Citizens have access to e-services also in rural areas.

2.7. e-participation tools (demokratia.fi, kansalaisaloite.fi, kuntalaisaloite.fi, lausuntopalvelu.fi, nuortenideat.fi, otakantaa.fi) are actively used by the public sector and the civil society. Indicator: Number of users.

2.8. CSOs and citizens organizing voluntary work have an easy access to information they need for this.

2.9. Democracy recognition is given to two civil servants (one from the state administration and one from the municipal sector) for their activities in enhancing open government.

Responsible Institution(s): Ministries of Finance, Justice, and Communication

Supporting Institution(s): Ministries, agencies, municipalities, association of local and regional authorities, CSOs, advisory board on civil society policy

Start Date: 1 July 2015 End Date: 30 June 2017

Commitment Aim:

Broadly speaking, the targets of this commitment have been to improve citizens’ access to information and participation in decision making through e-participation tools. More specifically, the commitment aims to open, centralize and digitize government data and services; enhance government support for voluntary work and update voluntary work information; and improve e-participation practices and tools, as well as access to e-services in rural areas.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

At the midterm, the second commitment was substantially implemented. As part of the Ministry of Finance’s Open Data Program, the government had published a guide for opening data, as well as launched the online service platform for open data and interoperability tools Avoindata.fi, and the Suomi.fi Web Service for e-services and public records. However, priority datasets for future publication on Avoindata.fi were not determined at the midterm. On 14 October 2015, a report on the barriers of voluntary work was published.[Note49: “Vapaaehtoistyö, talkootyö, naapuriapu – kaikki käy.” Ministry of Finance, 14 October 2015,
http://vm.fi/artikkeli/-/asset_publisher/vapaaehtoistyo-talkootyo-naapuriapu-kaikki-kay ] Officials had yet to develop guidelines for voluntary work, and activities to improve access to e-participation tools for citizens in rural areas and for special needs groups had not started. The commitment involved several campaigns to raise awareness about e-participation services, including the e-participation portal for youth Nuortenideat.fi, the consultation portal Lausuntopalvelu.fi, and the public feedback portal Otakantaa.fi.

End-of-term: Substantial

2.1. Procedures to open datasets
At the end of term, progress on this step is still incomplete. The Open Data service saw a monthly average of 32,000 page views in 2016,[Note50: Avoindata.fi usage statistics, https://www.avoindata.fi/fi/content/tilastot ] but priority datasets for publication are yet to be determined. Excluding public procurement data, information on the publication of data reserves considered important in the commitment (companies’ and corporations’ data, notifications on forest usage, decisions on use of forest owned by government, environmental impact assessments, agencies’ plans to open data and other central data reserves) is unavailable.

2.2. Personal records service
This step is substantially implemented. All Finnish municipalities and most government agencies have joined the personal records service as obliged by the joint government electronic support service law that came into force on 15 July 2016.[Note51: KaPa-laki 571/2016, http://vm.fi/kapa-laki ] Suomi.fi is still in beta testing in terms of private sector services.[Note52: Suomi.fi beta testing, https://beta.suomi.fi/yritykselle ]

2.3. Proposal for coordinating voluntary work and 2.4 Proposals for removing barriers of voluntary work
This milestone is complete. Based on the report on barriers of voluntary work, focus was brought to the issue of persons granted unemployment benefits when involved in voluntary work.[Note53: “Vapaaehtoistoimintaan liittyvistä verotuskysymyksistä lausuntokierroksella eniten palautetta.” Ministry of Finance, 2 March 2016, http://valtioneuvosto.fi/artikkeli/-/asset_publisher/vapaaehtoistoimintaan-liittyvista-verotuskysymyksista-lausuntokierroksella-eniten-palautetta?_101_INSTANCE_3wyslLo1Z0ni_groupId=10623 ] Under Finnish law, such persons are eligible for benefits as long as the work in question is by definition voluntary, i.e. unpaid, even if it includes certain benefits, such as refundable travel expenses or free meals.[Note54: Benefits for voluntary work, http://www.demokratia.fi/tietotori/vapaaehtoistyo/tyottoman-oikeus-tehda-vapaaehtoistyota/ ]

The guidelines for voluntary work have been developed by the Ministry of Justice and published on the new Suomi.fi Web Service.[Note55: Fundamental rights and civic activity (in Finnish),

https://www.suomi.fi/kansalaiselle/oikeudet-ja-velvollisuudet/perusoikeudet-ja-vaikuttaminen ] According to a representative of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the publication principles of the portal (e.g. using layman’s terminology and presenting matters concisely) meant that certain detailed information about volunteer work could not be transferred from Demokratia.fi,[Note56: Interview with Niklas Wilhelmsson, Ministry of Justice, 20 December 2017.] which therefore still contains the more comprehensive guidelines for volunteer work. According to a representative of Allianssi, the commitment has succeeded in removing municipal barriers to voluntary work.[Note57: Interview with Eero Rämö, Allianssi, 4 September 2017.] As stated in the midterm report, promoting and creating simple processes for engaging volunteer work is laudable but of unclear relevance to OGP values.

2.5 E-participation practice; 2.7 E-participation tools used; and 2.8 Access to information for voluntary work
According to a representative of the Ministry of Justice, the popularity of most Demokratia.fi services has declined or remained roughly the same since the midterm. In the case of Kansalaisaloite.fi (Citizen Initiative), the decline in webpage visits could be explained by the lack of big campaigns in 2017. The only growing e-participation service is Lausuntopalvelu.fi (Consultation Portal), which had already acquired 45,000 visits by August 2017 (compared to 29,700 in total in 2016). The Ministry of Justice was intending to use this portal for all consultations from the end of 2017.[Note58: Interview with Niklas Wilhelmsson, Ministry of Justice, 29 August 2017.] Usage statistics for 2017 were not updated in the government’s end-of-term self-assessment report.

In total, 87 organizations have joined the portal Nuortenideat.fi, including municipalities, NGOs, schools and educational institutions, as well as projects and forums. Ideas proposed by users are picked up by organizations and brought forward. According to a representative of the Youth Information and Counseling service Koordinaatti,[Note59: Koordinaatti is one of the service providers for Nuortenideat.fi, together with the Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Justice, and the Legal Register Center.] organizations joining the portal commit to the service terms, which state that each joining organization should appoint at least one responsible contact person to respond to young people’s ideas and forward them for review. The portal is also monitored, but the efficiency of responses currently varies and depends on each organization’s internal processes, their commitment level, as well as the responsible contact person. During 2017, 716 ideas were published, 216 were forwarded for review, 405 ideas received responses and 90 ideas are still awaiting response. The portal requires those submitting new ideas to log in, but supporting and commenting on existing ideas can be done without registration.[Note60: Interview with Merja-Maaria Oinas, Koordinaatti, 17 January 2018.]

2.6 Access to e-services in rural areas
The government’s self-assessment report does not outline any implemented practices for increasing participation of special needs groups in rural areas, in addition to Demokratia.fi. As part of the “Broadband for All” initiative, an estimated 32,000 kilometers of broadband network were built, which provided fast broadband for 15,000 new subscribers in 2015.[Note61: Finland’s End-of-term self-assessment report, 2015–2017 (in Finnish), 8-9,
http://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/10/Avoin-hallinto_-khoitsearviointiraportti-2017.pdf ]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Marginal

Although Finland rates in the top 10 countries for the Open-Useful-Reusable Government Data Index, it is also the only Nordic country which has suffered 20 percent loss of trust in national government since 2007. In terms of access to information, the publication of state spending information[Note62: Government agencies’ purchase invoices open data, Hansel Ltd,

https://www.avoindata.fi/data/fi/dataset/valtion-virastojen-ostolaskut ] under this commitment (milestone 2.1) meets global standards for being a “three-star step in open data design.”[Note63: “Julkiset, avoimet hankinnat.” Hansel blog, 30 November 2017,

https://www.hansel.fi/blogi/2017/11/29/julkiset-avoimet-hankinnat/ ] However, there is room for improvement in terms of involvement of citizens in the policy cycle for collaborative and empowering public participation.[Note64: OECD: Government at a Glance 2017, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/gov_glance-2017-en ] This commitment aims to involve citizens directly by providing online information platforms as well as platforms for public consultation. The commitment covers topics of availability, access and readability for the following data:

· public records and several e-services;

· open government, municipal and agency data;

· information on voluntary work; and

· several civic participation tools.

Nevertheless, decreasing usage statistics of the Demokratia.fi services show that making information and participation opportunities available does not automatically result in increased civic participation.[Note65: Midterm report, p. 30,

http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Finland_Progress-Report_2015-2017_for-public-comment.pdf] The “Broadband for All” initiative continued under the name “Fast Broadband”, but its aim has been redefined to provide services to regions lacking commercial activities,[Note66: Nopea laajakaista -hanke tukee huippunopeiden verkkojen rakentamista. FICORA, 10 October 2017, https://www.viestintavirasto.fi/ohjausjavalvonta/nopealaajakaista.html ] and its relevance to OGP values is unclear as it remains a government infrastructure project. The commitment also lacks measurable follow-up steps for involving citizens in co-creation and impact evaluation, and the planned operational models for engaging special needs groups and people living in rural areas have not been created.[Note67: Finland’s End-of-term self-assessment report, 2015–2017 (in Finnish), p. 7,
http://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/10/Avoin-hallinto_-khoitsearviointiraportti-2017.pdf ]

The commitment has succeeded in providing the public with a variety of e-participation services, some of which have gained popularity and enhanced open government values. According to a representative of Allianssi, the consultation portal Lausuntopalvelu.fi has increased transparency,[Note68: Interview with Eero Rämö, Allianssi, 4 September 2017.] and as stated in the midterm report, the commitment has made progress in improving government practice in drafting legislation by facilitating public commentary on laws, policies and guidelines.[Note69: Midterm report, p. 29,

http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Finland_Progress-Report_2015-2017_for-public-comment.pdf] According to a representative of Koordinaatti, transparency as well as civic participation opportunities for young people also increased through the portal Nuortenideat.fi, though the representative also added that the existence of the service does not guarantee participation.[Note70: Interview with Merja-Maaria Oinas, Koordinaatti, 17 January 2018.]

Carried Forward?

The commitment was partially carried over to the next action plan,[Note71: The Finnish Open Government III Action Plan, p. 4, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Finland_NAP_2017-2019_EN.pdf] in which Finland aims to ensure equal participation opportunities for all citizens as well as continue working on open procedures and open data. One of the focal points of the new commitment is the publication of state procurement data. The latter had already been published at the time of writing the report,[Note72: ”Hankintahackathonin taikaa.” Hansel blog, 18 December 2017,

https://www.hansel.fi/blogi/2017/12/18/hankintahackathonin-taikaa/ ] and the third action plan commitment did not include any additional milestones for state procurement data or open data in general. Another focal point of the third action plan is the consultation portal Lausuntopalvelu.fi, the use of which in state, regional and municipal administration is planned to be increased.

Overall, the third action plan still mostly serves civil servants[Note73: Finland’s End-of-term self-assessment report, 2015–2017 (in Finnish), p. 9,
http://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/10/Avoin-hallinto_-khoitsearviointiraportti-2017.pdf ] and lacks measures for public accountability. In order to further improve civic participation for this commitment, the researcher advises that the government consider committing to concrete steps on engaging the public in consultation, as well as producing guidelines on how consultations should be considered and implemented, specifically in terms of using feedback from CSOs. Currently, the commitment fails to incorporate diverse perspectives of CSOs from outside the usual OGP support groups and networks.[Note74: Midterm report, p. 15,

http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Finland_Progress-Report_2015-2017_for-public-comment.pdf

] Specifically, more engagement-oriented strategies for consultation with special needs groups and people living in rural areas are needed.


Commitments

  1. Improving understandability and inlcusion of government information

    FI0030, 2019, Capacity Building

  2. Open Government Strategy

    FI0031, 2019, Capacity Building

  3. Register of government deicsion-making

    FI0032, 2019, Conflicts of Interest

  4. Open data and AI policy

    FI0033, 2019, E-Government

  5. Supporting Everyone’s Possibility to Participate.

    FI0023, 2017, E-Government

  6. Clear Government Reforms and Services

    FI0024, 2017, Fiscal Transparency

  7. Access to Information on Incorporated Public Services

    FI0025, 2017, Fiscal Transparency

  8. Access to Information Knowledge in the Public Administration

    FI0026, 2017, Capacity Building

  9. Publishing State Procurement Data to Citizens

    FI0027, 2017, E-Government

  10. Regional Reform Information

    FI0028, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport

  11. Training Regional Administration in Open Government Principles

    FI0029, 2017, Capacity Building

  12. Clear Administration

    FI0019, 2015, E-Government

  13. Government as an Enabler

    FI0020, 2015, E-Government

  14. Open Procedures

    FI0021, 2015, E-Government

  15. Engage Children, Youth, Elderly

    FI0022, 2015, Public Participation

  16. Enhancing the Openness of Preparatory Processes

    FI0001, 2013, E-Government

  17. Emphasizing Dialogue Skills in the Job Descriptions of Civil Servants

    FI0002, 2013, Capacity Building

  18. Strengthening Proactive Publishing and Communication

    FI0003, 2013, Capacity Building

  19. Promoting Participatory Budgeting

    FI0004, 2013, Participation in Budget Processes

  20. Increasing Openness and Customer Orientation in ICT and e-Services Development

    FI0005, 2013, E-Government

  21. Increasing the Number of Open and Online Meetings

    FI0006, 2013, E-Government

  22. Standard Language Titles and Resumes Will Be Drafted of the Government Proposals.

    FI0007, 2013, Capacity Building

  23. Visualization of Decisions

    FI0008, 2013, E-Government

  24. Training Will Be Organised for Civil Servants in Use of Clear Language and Plain Language In- Cluding Committing to Use of Terms Already Known.

    FI0009, 2013, Capacity Building

  25. The Comprehensibility of the Texts Produced by Public Administration Will Be Tested To- Gether with Citizens and Service Users.

    FI0010, 2013, Capacity Building

  26. Standardizing and Clarifying the Terms and Concepts Used in Public Administration and Ser- Vice Production.

    FI0011, 2013, Capacity Building

  27. The Comprehensibility of Customer Letters and Decisions Will Be Enhanced, Especially When Using Standard Texts.

    FI0012, 2013, Capacity Building

  28. Opening and Publishing New Data and Changing Existing Open Data Into a Machine- Readable Form.

    FI0013, 2013, Open Data

  29. Clear Terms for Use of for Open Data and Knowledge

    FI0014, 2013, Open Data

  30. Strengthening Skills Needed to Understand Combining Privacy and Open Data and Strength- Ening the Citizen’S Right to His/Her Own Personal Information “The Right to Be Anonymous”

    FI0015, 2013, Capacity Building

  31. Tearing Down Barriers of Action of the Civil Society

    FI0016, 2013, Capacity Building

  32. The Proactive Presence and Accessibility of Civil Servants

    FI0017, 2013, Capacity Building

  33. Providing Tools and Training to Organizations

    FI0018, 2013, Capacity Building