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Improving Understandability and Inclusion of Government Information (FI0030)



Action Plan: Finland Action Plan 2019-2023

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active


Lead Institution: Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Marginalized Communities, Public Participation, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Finland Design Report 2019-2023, Finland Implementation Report 2017-2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i



Lasting openness means that openness penetrates all government actions and development measures. Genuine openness is impossible to achieve if the activities of the government are incomprehensible. In international comparison, Finland is a model country of openness. However, the changing world brings about new challenges. Citizens’ demands towards government openness are increasing due to technological development, among other reasons. It is important to ensure that comprehensive development of openness continues and that all those involved in government operations are duly competent in this respect. When fulfilling this commitment, special attention should be paid to the opportunities of participation for people in the most vulnerable position.

Of the OGP initiatives, this commitment address all four: transparency, citizen participation, accountability and technology & innovation.

1) Understandability - Training and support for the use of good administrative language
An online course on good administrative language has been prepared. We will introduce guidelines and a programme to ensure that public officials and employees will take the course. The online course will become part of the orientation of new employees. A further goal is to ensure, in cooperation with the municipalities and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, that there is a sufficient number of people who have completed the course in local government.

Expertise of language and communications, and a broader understanding of linguistic matters is required, not only for customer communications by officials, but also when it comes to management, decision-making and the preparatory tasks by experts in the various sectors.

In addition to training, there is a need for constant development and maintenance of skills and support offered by the departments and at workplaces. Support is needed when new services are produced or activities reformed, but also in daily activities. The plain language programme also seeks to support the increased use of language and usability experts at public offices and workplaces. The first priority is that the language is easy to understand for the citizens.

In addition to the online course on good administrative language, the Institute for the Languages of Finland (Kotus) is preparing a more extensive online training material of administrative language as part of its three-year (2019–2021) project.

Plain language also means non-discriminatory language. All authorities are, by law, required to prevent discrimination and to promote gender equality and non-discrimination in all their activities.

2) Understandability - Improving plain language skills in government
In addition to the plain language skills, it is also important to further increase awareness and competence of plain language in government. There are up to 700,000 people in Finland who require plain language (Finnish Centre for Easy to Read, 2019). An online course on plain language will be organised. Preparation of marketing material that will also contribute to the purposes of the course and can be used as an introduction to plain language. Plain language is in particularly needed by the authorities in the various administrative branches involved in direct customer contact with citizens or who produce different types of administrative texts, such as decisions, forms or guidelines. The goal is that increased command of plain language will also mean that it will be more commonly used and that the volume of materials produced in plain language will grow.

3) Understandability - Wire frames
In addition to plain text and speech, good visual solutions promote understandability and accessibility. A package of support materials will be produced, which will contain the practices of good visualisation and examples of successfully completed cases within the administrative branches.

4) Understandability - Boosting the accessibility competence among public officials
It will be ensured that competence on accessibility will be increased in public administration and that understandable and plain content will be highlighted in public online services. Together with Celia, a short course will be prepared on the eOppiva platform on how accessibility and plain content are connected.
Inclusion - NGO Academy - public officials to gain competence and NGO connections
A NGO Academy Day will be co-organised by the central government and NGOs. The day is intended for everyone, in particular those public servants for whom work with NGOs is not a part of their day-to-day tasks. The goal of the day is to provide people in the government more in-depth competence on the work of NGOs, and to help public officials to make new NGO contacts in their own sector. The event will contribute to the goals of the Government Programme on boosting civil society competence in the government.
Development of competence relevant to non-governmental organisations is also carried out as a part of the management development and support activities.

5) Inclusion - The day of the Elderly Citizens Council and the day of Children’s Rights will be complemented with the introduction of a day of the Council for People with Disabilities.
It is important that the representatives of the councils for people with disabilities will gain additional opportunities for sharing competence and experiences at a national level and to carry out development activities together. The Elderly Citizens Council day has been organised for a number of years now. In the future, the Councils for People with Disabilities will be offered a similar annual event, which could partly overlap the day of the Elderly Citizens Councils. The planning work for the day of the Councils for People with Disabilities will start cooperation with the Advisory Board for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (VANE) and by hearing the wishes by members of Councils for People with Disabilities on the goals for the day.

Enforced compliance with the Act on the Openness of Government Activities The experiences by the Chancellor of Justice indicate that the compliance with the Act on the Openness of Government Activities remains insufficient. A significant number of the complaints received by the Chancellor of Justice concern the Act on the Openness of Government Activities.
As outlined in the Government Programme, compliance with the Act on the Openness of Government Activities must be enhanced by issuing stricter obligations for government officials to comply with the Act on the Openness of Government Activities in a manner that promotes openness and by determining more explicit consequences for breaches of the law.

The goal is to enhance the openness-promoting compliance with the Act on the Openness of Government Activities through ethical and purpose-oriented development in particular. This is because the interpretations of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities and the data protection regulations are, in many respects, genuinely borderline cases and there are strict sanctions for unlawful disclosure of confidential information.
6) Openness - Strengthening commitments
The support package for open government activities and its various language versions will be updated. As part of the update, materials will be added and developed in the following fields in particular: 1) enabling and supporting the participation of young people (children and young people under 18), 2) taking into account the various linguistic groups in the promotion of government openness and development of opportunities for participation and information on linguistic rights and means to promote them, 3) the equality aspect, 4) accessibility in order to support the new law concerning accessibility (Act on Providing Digital Services, 306/2019) and to ensure that people with disabilities have access to information and opportunities for inclusion. The accessibility element will be completed in cooperation with Celia and other parties that offer accessible services

The support package will also contain information on how public officials, local government officials and public sector employees can take part in social media debates and how to face and increase citizen participation on social media, for example.

Boosting the marketing of the “Openness Game” as a means of development and make a Swedish-language version of the game.

A training course on openness will be produced for the eOppiva platform in Finnish and Swedish. The contents will also feature basic information on the Act on the Openness of Government Activities and such topics as personal data protection. One of the modules in the training will cover internal inclusion.

Openness and inclusion must become part of everyday tasks.It will seek to establish the kind of opportunities and means which could be used to support public officials in their efforts to act as openly as possible in their tasks in the office.
The principle is that openness is deeply rooted in all of the government’s operational methods and attitudes instead of being a separate responsibility that causes extra work.

6) Communications - Supported by management commitment
A regional tour will take place and offer a forum of dialogue for the local government management, public officials and government officials in the region and the topics will include the activities on the promotion of openness, inclusion and trust. The goal is to strengthen cooperation and communication between authorities that promote openness.

7) Communications - Sharing best practices
Collecting and additionally highlighting Finnish and international best practices and tools for promoting open government.

One important element in sharing best practices is the availability of information and its accessibility as laid down in legislation concerning accessibility (306/2019) through websites and other means. Online services must comply with level AA as laid down in the accessibility recommendations.


  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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