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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: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: NA

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

E-Government, Marginalized Communities, Open Regulations, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Finland Design Report 2017–2019

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

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/.]

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.] 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.] 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.] 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.], 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.],[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.]
  • 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.] 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.]


IRM End of Term 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.” [1]

Start Date: Not identified

End Date: Not identified

IRM Design Report Assessment IRM Implementation Report Assessment
  • Verifiable: No
  • Relevant: Civic participation
  • Potential impact: Minor
  • Completion: Complete
  • Did it Open Government? Marginal
  • This commitment sought to improve citizen participation in public administration planning, with special attention paid to persons in vulnerable positions, such as children and other special needs groups. [2] To do so, this commitment aimed to make participation opportunities more diverse, easily discoverable, accessible, and understandable. The concrete mechanisms to reach this aim included the promotion of an existing online consultation platform (lausuntopalvelu.fi, launched in 2014), as well as other digital channels and services, events, and workshops. [3] The online consultation platform offers individuals and organizations the possibility to comment on legislation and public sector preparatory work.

    As part of this commitment, the Finnish government organized events (e.g. Universal Children's Day, an immigrant workshop, and an elder council day) and promoted the use of the consultation platform within the government and municipalities. [4] Because the commitment does not include other specific measures to reach its stated objectives, its implementation is considered complete.

    During the implementation period, the Finnish government provided selected stakeholder groups opportunities to engage with public sector decision making and preparatory work. One of the stated objectives of the government during the implementation period was to develop the Universal Children’s Day. [5] To mark the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in November 2019, the government arranged an event during which 100 children from different parts of Finland took over the Government Palace for three hours and drafted a children’s declaration with the help of civil servants. [6]

    The emphasis on individual events for professional and special-interest groups meant that the commitment had a limited outreach. [7] The government’s willingness to increase co-operation between youth and elder councils is a positive [8] and concrete development, but its application remains limited in scope. This co-operation model is based on a three-day event held in the municipality of Hollola in May 2018. [9] The use of the online consultation platform has increased openness, but the government could ensure that all citizens and CSOs have engagement possibilities in the early stages of public sector decision making, instead of simply having an opportunity to comment on decisions that have already been made. [10]

    Overall, the implementation of this commitment resulted in marginal changes to government practice.

    [1] Open Government III Action Plan (2017-2019): Finland, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Finland_NAP_2017-2019_EN.pdf [2] Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Finland Design Report 2017– 2019, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Finland_Design-Report_2017-2019_EN.pdf [3] Avoin ja yhdenvertainen osallistuminen: Valtioneuvoston demokratiapoliittinen selonteko 2014, VNS 3/2014 vp, https://www.eduskunta.fi/FI/vaski/selonteko/Documents/vns_3+2014.pdf [4] Avoimen hallinnon III toimintaohjelman toimeenpano: Tuetaan kaikkien mahdollisuutta osallistua, Ministry of Finance, https://avoinhallinto.fi/toimeenpano/tuetaan-kaikkien-mahdollisuutta-osallistua/ [5] Avoimen hallinnon III toimintaohjelman toimeenpano: Tuetaan kaikkien mahdollisuutta osallistua, Ministry of Finance, https://avoinhallinto.fi/toimeenpano/tuetaan-kaikkien-mahdollisuutta-osallistua/ [6] Lapsen oikeudet 30 vuotta: Lapset valtaavat valtioneuvoston ja osallistuvat päätöksentekoon 20.11., Government Communications Department, https://valtioneuvosto.fi/artikkeli/-/asset_publisher/10616/lapset-valtaavat-valtioneuvoston-ja-osallistuvat-paatoksentekoon-20-11- [7] Elina Pekkarinen, Ombudsman for Children, and Terhi Tuukkanen, Senior Researcher, Office of the Ombudsman for Children, 16 October 2019. [8] The Union of Local Youth Councils in Finland, 30 October 2019. [9] Hyvä fiilis -tapahtuma 18.5.-20.5.2018, https://www.hollola.fi/hyva-fiilis-tapahtuma-185-205 [10] The Union of Local Youth Councils in Finland, 30 October 2019. Paula Karppinen, Regional Development Manager, 8 November 2019.

    Commitments

    1. Improving Understandability and Inclusion of Government Information

      FI0030, 2019, Capacity Building

    2. Open Government Strategy

      FI0031, 2019, Capacity Building

    3. Register of Government Decision-Making

      FI0032, 2019, Anti-Corruption

    4. Open Data and AI Policy

      FI0033, 2019, Access to Information

    5. Supporting Everyone’s Possibility to Participate.

      FI0023, 2017, E-Government

    6. Clear Government Reforms and Services

      FI0024, 2017, Fiscal Openness

    7. Access to Information on Incorporated Public Services

      FI0025, 2017, Access to Information

    8. Access to Information Knowledge in the Public Administration

      FI0026, 2017, Access to Information

    9. Publishing State Procurement Data to Citizens

      FI0027, 2017, Access to Information

    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, Access to Information

    14. Open Procedures

      FI0021, 2015, Access to Information

    15. Engage Children, Youth, Elderly

      FI0022, 2015, Open Regulations

    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, Fiscal Openness

    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, Access to Information

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

      FI0014, 2013, Access to Information

    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, Access to Information

    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

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