Clear government reforms and services (FI0024)
Providing clearer and easy to understand information about the on-going preparatory work and the services provided by government. Using information and visualization models that have been proven to be clear and accessible. Paying attention to multichannel information, clear language and plain language.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
2. Taking care that there are clear descriptions of the reforms and services being prepared by the government
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
“Providing clearer and easy to understand information about the on-going preparatory work and the services provided by government. Using information and visualization models that have been proven to be clear and accessible.
Paying attention to multichannel information, clear language and plain language.”[Note : Finland National Action Plan 2017-2019 (in English), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Finland_NAP_2017-2019_EN.pdf.%5D
Start Date: Not identified
End Date: Not identified
Context and Objectives
Information on government services and projects is often written in administrative jargon and can be difficult for the public to understand. During recent years, the Finnish government has paid special attention to the transfer and publication of information on a national scale. The National Architecture for Digital Services program led by the Ministry of Finance between 2014 and 2017 aimed to improve shared information, openness of public administration, and online services.[Note : National Architecture for Digital Services,
https://vm.fi/en/national-architecture-for-digital-services.%5D The focus of this commitment is to make information on the preparatory work on legislation and governance, along with government-provided services, available on a variety of websites and platforms. This commitment further seeks to make this information available in varying formats to reach all targeted audiences. The commitment also plans to make information available in clear and plain language to be understandable to all, thus making it relevant to the OGP value of access to information.
During the consultation period of the action plan, several CSOs commented on the need for more concrete and measurable activities for this commitment.[Note : Summary of comments on Finland’s third national action plan submitted during the consultation period 2 February –3 March 2017, p. 21-30, 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.] According to a representative of the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, the first step to improving the commitment would be to define what “clarity” means in practice.[Note : Minna Sirnö, Head of Arts Promotion Centre Finland, consultation 3.3.2017, p. 24, https://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/06/Lausuntoyhteenveto-III-toimintaohjelma.pdf.%5D Similarly, the expression “paying attention” is vague, non-measurable, and lacks a responsible institution.[Note : Sari Vapaavuori, Head of Development, Valli - The Finnish Union for Senior Services. Email interview 22.02.2019.] Continuing from the recommendations of Finland’s previous action plan’s IRM end-of-term report,[Note : Finland End-of-Term Report 2015-2017, p. 21, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Finland_EOT_Report_2015-2017_EN_for-public-comment.pdf.%5D the government’s online register for public projects (Valtioneuvoston hankeikkuna) could be further developed as a platform for publication, starting within the preparatory phase of government projects. In addition to providing an opportunity to follow the decision-making process, the platform could be updated with consultation links and information on participation possibilities.[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 Without more concrete implementation measurements, it is difficult to code the program’s potential to improve access to information beyond “minor”.
Due to major governance reforms, such as the Health, Social Services and Regional Government Reform,[Note : For more information on the regional government, health and social services reform, please see
https://alueuudistus.fi/en/frontpage.%5D the commitment’s aim to clarify and diversify information on government activities and services is timely. However, the commitment as written gives no indication as to how the most crucial information is to be selected, which information and visualisation models would be used and how have they been tested, and whether there would be any concrete outputs in plain and clear language on a variety of channels.
The IRM researcher recommends that the government consults with civil society on priority information to be published in clear and plain language and commits to publishing this information by the end of the action plan period. Additionally, the commitment could aim to improve early-stage civic participation in government decision-making. It could be extended over several action plans, including several milestones:
- The creation of a priority list for the need of clear and plain language information on preparatory work and services, starting with a process description for implementation;[Note : Institute for the Languages of Finland, ibid., p. 25.]
- The selection of a variety of channels together with relevant CSOs, including a deadline for publication of the aforementioned information;
- The development of consultation and collaboration methods for government preparatory work together with relevant CSOs;
- The testing of consultation and collaboration methods and the documentation of best practices in this area.
Supporting everyone’s possibility to participate.
FI0023, 2017, E-Government
Clear government reforms and services
FI0024, 2017, Fiscal Transparency
Access to information on incorporated public services
FI0025, 2017, Fiscal Transparency
Access to information knowledge in the public administration
FI0026, 2017, Capacity Building
Publishing state procurement data to citizens
FI0027, 2017, E-Government
Regional Reform information
FI0028, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport
Training regional administration in open government principles
FI0029, 2017, Capacity Building
FI0019, 2015, E-Government
Government as an enabler
FI0020, 2015, E-Government
FI0021, 2015, E-Government
Engage Children, Youth, Elderly
FI0022, 2015, Public Participation
Enhancing the openness of preparatory processes
FI0001, 2013, E-Government
Emphasizing dialogue skills in the job descriptions of civil servants
FI0002, 2013, Capacity Building
Strengthening proactive publishing and communication
FI0003, 2013, Capacity Building
Promoting participatory budgeting
FI0004, 2013, Participation in Budget Processes
Increasing openness and customer orientation in ICT and e-services development
FI0005, 2013, E-Government
Increasing the number of open and online meetings
FI0006, 2013, E-Government
Standard language titles and resumes will be drafted of the Government proposals.
FI0007, 2013, Capacity Building
Visualization of decisions
FI0008, 2013, E-Government
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
The comprehensibility of the texts produced by public administration will be tested to- gether with citizens and service users.
FI0010, 2013, Capacity Building
Standardizing and clarifying the terms and concepts used in public administration and ser- vice production.
FI0011, 2013, Capacity Building
The comprehensibility of customer letters and decisions will be enhanced, especially when using standard texts.
FI0012, 2013, Capacity Building
Opening and publishing new data and changing existing open data into a machine- readable form.
FI0013, 2013, Open Data
Clear terms for use of for open data and knowledge
FI0014, 2013, Open Data
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
Tearing down barriers of action of the civil society
FI0016, 2013, Capacity Building
The proactive presence and accessibility of civil servants
FI0017, 2013, Capacity Building
Providing tools and training to organizations
FI0018, 2013, Capacity Building