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Finland

Regional Reform Information (FI0028)

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

Infrastructure & Transport, Land Rights & Spatial Planning, Legislation & Regulation, Private Sector, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Finland Design Report 2017–2019

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

During the he regional reform care will be taken that clear information about the content and reasons behind the reform will reach also those people who do not have a possibility to use electronic channels. It will be tested with citizen, customer and expert groups whether the information and descriptions are easy enough to understand. .

IRM Midterm Status Summary

6. Making a clear and easy to understand description of the regional administration and clearly informing what changes due to the regional reform and why.

 

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

“During the regional reform, care will be taken that clear information about the content and reasons behind the reform will reach also those people who do not have a possibility to use electronic channels.

It will be tested with citizen, customer and expert groups whether the information and descriptions are easy enough to understand.”[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

The Regional Government Reform seeks to establish new regions in Finland and to transfer new duties to regional actors. If re-introduced, the reform will affect the structure, services and funding of the regions, especially in terms of health and social services, and it has the potential to affect all citizens in terms of where, when, and how they can keep using health and social services.[Note : For more information on the regional government, health and social services reform, please see
https://alueuudistus.fi/en/frontpage.]
Whether and how this reform will be implemented remains subject to political debate.

This commitment aims to make the government decision-making process behind the reform clearer for all citizens, especially those who do not use electronic channels. It aims to improve citizens’ understanding of the contents of the reform by providing information through a variety of channels and by using clear language. Additionally, it plans to test the understandability of the information published. The commitment does not include any specifics on the type of information to be published, the channels to be used, or the planned tests and focus groups. Therefore, the potential impact is difficult to assess beyond minor.

The government has published information on the Regional Government Reform on the website omamaakunta.fi. This website is available in Finnish, Swedish, and English, along with multiple minority languages, including Finnish and Swedish sign language.

Next steps

The commitment suggests that its implementation would only begin during the regional reform – which is likely to be after the end of the action plan period. If the government aims to stretch this commitment over several action plans, it should elaborate on it in the commitment and include at least one milestone for the ongoing two-year period.

The IRM researcher recommends the following steps for improving the specificity and potential impact of this commitment:

  • Consulting with relevant CSOs and the public on the most crucial information needed on the reform and compiling a priority list for publication before the end of the current action plan. Special attention should be paid to the needs of those who do not have access to electronic channels and to determining the best channels to reach these target groups.
  • Conducting a survey on the accessibility and clarity of published information during the next action plan, with special attention paid to the access to information for citizens via non-electronic channels.


IRM End of Term Status Summary

6. Making a clear and easy to understand description of the regional administration and clearly informing what changes due to the regional reform and why.

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

“During the he regional reform care will be taken that clear information about the content and reasons behind the reform will reach also those people who do not have a possibility to use electronic channels.

It will be tested with citizen, customer and expert groups whether the information and descriptions are easy enough to understand.” [38]

Start Date: Not identified

End Date: Not identified

IRM Design Report Assessment IRM Implementation Report Assessment
  • Verifiable: No
  • Relevant: Access to information
  • Potential impact: Minor
  • Completion: Substantial
  • Did it Open Government? Marginal
  • This commitment sought to ensure the openness of government preparatory work during a major regional administration reform (Regional Reform), by making government-provided information on the content and reasons behind the Regional Reform clear and accessible to all citizens. The proposed reform was historic in its scale and ambition, but it failed to pass under the Government of Juha Sipilä. [39]

    During the preparatory stage of the Regional Reform, the Finnish government ran an outreach program (Maakunta tutuksi, http://www.omamaakunta.fi), commissioned a report on the role of government-civil society partnerships in the facilitation of this reform, and advanced open government principles through a Democracy and Participation Network comprised of civil servants from different pilot regions. [40] At the end of the implementation period, this commitment’s implementation was substantial, as the government had not provided evidence of carrying out the focus groups mentioned in the commitment. [41]

    The research conducted for this report indicates that the government succeeded in its outreach during the preparation of the Regional Reform. [42] While government-provided information on the reform was difficult for average citizens to understand, [43] the government was able to involve relevant stakeholder groups in its outreach activities. [44] Aside from electronic channels, the government disseminated information on the content and reasons behind the reform through local newspapers, events, and government-civil society partnerships. [45] Overall, the preparatory work for the Regional Reform has contributed to the mainstreaming of open government principles and citizen engagement, [46] and it can serve as a template for future public sector reforms.

    By implementing this commitment, the Finnish government improved the quality and reach of government-provided information and created participation opportunities in relation to this specific reform. However, the overall impact of this commitment on government openness beyond the implementation period was marginal.

    [38] Open Government III Action Plan (2017-2019): Finland, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Finland_NAP_2017-2019_EN.pdf [39] 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 [40] Avoimen hallinnon III toimintaohjelman toimeenpano: Laaditaan maakuntahallinnosta selkeä ja ymmärrettävä kuvaus sekä viestitään selkeästi mikä maakuntauudistuksessa muuttuu ja miksi, https://avoinhallinto.fi/toimeenpano/laaditaan-maakuntahallinnosta-selkea-ja-ymmarrettava-kuvaus-seka-viestitaan-selkeasti-mika-maakuntauudistuksessa-muuttuu-ja-miksi/ [41] Maakunta- ja sote-uudistuksen loppuraportti: Kokemuksia valmistelutyöstä, oppeja sekä johtopäätöksiä, Valtiovarainministeriön julkaisuja, 2019 (40), https://vm.fi/documents/10623/13586275/Maakunta-+ja+sote-uudistuksen+loppuraportti/f8e749d4-fa0a-c295-739c-3f1931213306/Maakunta-+ja+sote-uudistuksen+loppuraportti.pdf [42] Transparency International – Finland, 30 October 2019; Paula Karppinen, Regional Development Manager, Kainuu Region, 9 November 2019. [43] Maakunta- ja sote-uudistuksen loppuraportti: Kokemuksia valmistelutyöstä, oppeja sekä johtopäätöksiä, Valtiovarainministeriön julkaisuja, 2019 (40), https://vm.fi/documents/10623/13586275/Maakunta-+ja+sote-uudistuksen+loppuraportti/f8e749d4-fa0a-c295-739c-3f1931213306/Maakunta-+ja+sote-uudistuksen+loppuraportti.pdf [44] Anne Pyykkönen, Development Manager, North Karelian Society for Social Security, 17 October 2019. In North Karelia, these stakeholder groups included at least the North Karelian Society for Social Security, Save the Children, Martha Organisation, Association of Rural Culture and Education, Youth Workshop of Joensuu (Joensuun nuorisoverstas), North Karelia’s branch of the Association of Finnish Pensioners (Eläkkeensaajien Pohjois-Karjalan piiri ry) and North Karelia’s branch of the Finnish Pensioner’s Federation (Eläkeliiton Pohjois-Karjalan piiri ry). JANE ja maakuntauudistus: JANE maakuntauudistuksen muutosfoorumina, https://www.jelli.fi/pohjois-karjalan-jarjestoasiain-neuvottelukunta-jane/vaikuttamistoiminta/jane-muutosfoorumina/ [45] Anne Pyykkönen, Development Manager, North Karelian Society for Social Security, 17 October 2019. [46] Paula Karppinen, Regional Development Manager, Kainuu Region, 9 November 2019.

    Commitments

    Open Government Partnership