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Finland

Supporting Everyone’s Possibility to Participate. (FI0023)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Finland National Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: NA

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

E-Government, Marginalized Communities, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Finland Design Report 2017–2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Enhancing citizens’ possibilities to participate in the preparatory work of public administration’s decision making and development projects. Taking care of the accessibility of engagement and the availability of participation possibilities. The different forms of participation function only if citizens can find them. The engagement possibilities of especially those who are in a vulnerable position, like children and special groups, will be strengthened. Supporting the use of different forms of participation side by side. Different ways of participation can be for instance digital channels and services, different kinds of events and workshops, experiments and events. Securing the comprehensive use of the consultation portal (lausuntopalvelu.fi) in the state administration and enhancing its use in the regions and municipalities.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

1. Supporting everyone’s possibility to participate.

 

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“Enhancing citizens’ possibilities to participate in the preparatory work of public administration’s decision-making and development projects.

Taking care of the accessibility of engagement and the availability of participation possibilities. The different forms of participation function only if citizens can find them. The engagement possibilities of especially those who are in a vulnerable position, like children and special groups, will be strengthened.

Supporting the use of different forms of participation side by side. Different ways of participation can be for instance digital channels and services, different kinds of events and workshops, experiments and events.

Securing the comprehensive use of the consultation portal (lausuntopalvelu.fi) in the state administration and enhancing its use in the regions and municipalities.”[Note : Finland National Action Plan 2017-2019 (in English), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/finland-national-action-plan-2017-2019-all-languages/.%5D

Start Date: Not identified              

End Date: Not identified

 

Context and Objectives

This commitment addresses the need for citizens to be more involved in the early stages of public administration planning in Finland by providing citizens with a one-stop-shop consultation portal (lausuntopalvelu.fi) for government consultation in planning and decision-making and by making forms of participation easily discoverable, accessible[Note : The implementation of accessibility requirements stipulated under the Accessibility Directive (EU 2016/2102) will begin gradually on 23.9.2019. The directive concerns all state and municipal authorities, independent public bodies, universities, and many others. For more information, please see https://vm.fi/saavutettavuusdirektiivi.%5D and understandable. The commitment calls for special attention to be paid to vulnerable groups, although such groups are not identified in the commitment beyond children and “special groups”.[Note : Special (interest) group is a term used in Finnish public administration and it simply means a group of people with a common denominator or special needs. ] According to an estimate by the Finnish Centre for Easy to Read (2014), 8%–12% of Finns, including immigrants studying Finnish language, elderly citizens with memory loss, the disabled, and the socially marginalised, need clear language in order to deal with authorities.[Note : Planner Eliisa Uotila, the Finnish Centre for Easy to Read, consultation on the national action plan 3.3.2017, p. 13, https://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/06/Lausuntoyhteenveto-III-toimintaohjelma.pdf.%5D These groups are also disadvantaged in terms of keeping up with technological advancement.[Note : Sari Vapaavuori, Head of Development, Valli - The Finnish Union for Senior Services. Email interview 22.02.2019.] This commitment aims to make use of diverse methods of participation to reach a wider variety of citizens.

The commitment falls short in describing the specific measures or activities the government aims to employ to improve citizen participation. The commitment does not identify the responsible institution, participating institutions, measurable activity, or a clear timeline.[Note : Anitta Raitanen, former Executive Director of Kansalaisareena – Citizen Forum, consultation 24.2.2017, p. 18-19, https://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/06/Lausuntoyhteenveto-III-toimintaohjelma.pdf.%5D The consultation portal provides access to information on the government’s decision-making processes (already established in the previous action plan)[Note : Finland End-of-Term Report 2015-2017, p. 13-17, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Finland_EOT_Report_2015-2017_EN_for-public-comment.pdf.%5D, but the objective of securing the comprehensive use of the consultation portal, as written, does not include any concrete measures to raise awareness of the portal or encourage and facilitate its use. Thus, although the commitment is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation, the lack of specificity in its wording makes its potential impact difficult to assess beyond “minor”. CSOs involved in the preparation and comment round of the action plan endorsed the general aim of commitment yet criticized its lack of specificity and the lack of responsible institutions for the implementation of planned activities.[Note : Summary of comments on Finland’s third national action plan submitted during the consultation period 2 February          –3 March 2017, https://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/06/Lausuntoyhteenveto-III-toimintaohjelma.pdf. Sari Vapaavuori, Head of Development, Valli - The Finnish Union for Senior Services. Email interview 22.02.2019.]

Next steps

The government’s aim to support accessibility and variety of participation for all is laudable, yet the lack of specific indicators of completion as written makes it difficult to assess. In order to raise the specificity and potential impact of the commitment, the IRM researcher recommends:

  • All participating public administration bodies commit to publication of basic information on all projects on the online register “Valtioneuvoston hankeikkuna”;[Note : The open project register is managed by The Ministry of Finance, https://valtioneuvosto.fi/hankkeet.%5D,[Note : Anitta Raitanen, former Executive Director of Kansalaisareena – Citizen Forum, consultation 24.2.2017, p. 18-19, https://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/06/Lausuntoyhteenveto-III-toimintaohjelma.pdf.%5D
  • Opening up a consultation period on the online consultation portal Otakantaa.fi during preparatory phases of decision-making and development projects;[Note : Ibid.]
  • Identifying concrete methods of increasing collaboration with citizens in public administration preparatory work, such as organising participatory workshops during preparatory phases;   
  • Identifying criteria for such collaboration methods, which ensures that the needs of vulnerable groups (visually and hearing impaired, speakers of minority languages, the elderly, and others) have been considered.[Note : Ibid.]
  • Defining implementation measurement criteria for each milestone of the commitment.

For the next action plan, the IRM researcher recommends using the OGP commitment template even though the government has not found the OGP format useful for communicating, monitoring, and implementing commitments.[Note : Joonas Pekkanen, Founder and Coordinator of Open Ministry, Finland, consultation 16.2.2017, p. 20, https://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/06/Lausuntoyhteenveto-III-toimintaohjelma.pdf.%5D The government has attempted to keep the commitment text short yet broad in scope while narrowing the scope of activities. However, most of the planned activities remain too broad for specific actions to be identified from them and could be broken down into even smaller milestones. To ensure a high potential impact of the commitments, the activities could be extended to cover several action plans, as suggested by IRM during the evaluation of the previous action plan.[Note : Finland Mid-term Progress Report 2015-2017, p. 47, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/finland-mid-term-progress-report-2015-2017.%5D



Finland's 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