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Germany

Policy Co-Creation in North Rhine-Westphalia (DE0026)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Germany Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitization and Energy and Open Government Working Group

Support Institution(s): Bertelsmann Stiftung, Offene Kommunen.NRW Institut e.V. (OKNRW), Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V. (OKF)

Policy Areas

Land Rights & Spatial Planning, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Germany Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

What is the public problem that the
commitment will address?
It is important for public administrations
to be open to innovation. Incorporating
and using knowledge and skills shared by
members of the public, businesses and
experts can result in new products,
services and business models for the
public sector. Collaboration with innovative start-ups can also play an
important role.
Spaces for innovation and experimentation have been created in many countries in recent years, in both the public
and private sectors, and the same is
true at the federal, Land and municipal
levels in Germany. The best-known
international example is the UK’s NESTA.
In North Rhine-Westphalia too, the first
good examples are in evidence, including
on the municipal scale.
If these innovative forms of cooperation
are to be established, there will be an
increased need for analogue, physical
spaces and digital spaces to accommodate dialogue and interaction.

What is the commitment?
The goal is to drive forward the continued and targeted opening of North
Rhine-Westphalia’s administration to
collaborative and co-creative processes
in the interests of cultivating innovative
projects, user-friendly services and
­solutions to identifiable challenges facing
the administration.
This commitment is intended to create
spaces in North Rhine-Westphalia for
exchange and cooperation with the
administration. Providing central physical
spaces fosters regular exchange among
the Land and municipal administrations,
start-ups and civil society and encourages
goal-oriented collaboration – unrestricted
by boundaries between disciplines,
official remits or levels of responsibility
for implementation.

How will the commitment contribute to
solving the public problem?
Real places will promote understanding of
open government and create a network
for developing new and innovative ideas.
They will provide ways to bring in external
expertise to solve challenges in public
administration, combining self-organising
engagement by members of the public
with new forms of collaboration in and
with the administration.
The plan is to create a space for new forms
of agile cooperation as a Land-level pilot
project. This innovation lab is to incubate
new methods of exchange and particularly
flexible forms of collaboration within the
Land Government. Here, administration
staff focused on specific schemes or on
subject areas will work with researchers,
professionals and civil-society players on
inter-portfolio questions and projects.
The innovation lab will also be a space in
which to strengthen cooperation between
the public administration and start-ups.
This is to involve analysing other countries’
experience of successful GovTech
initiatives, like those of Scotland and
Poland, and drawing up a plan for starting
a GovTech initiative for North RhineWestphalia – which will be road-tested
in a pilot project.
In addition, start-up pitches will be held at
public agencies as a further boost to innovative ideas and to cooperation between
the administration and start-ups.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
This commitment will foster the sharing of
information and experience and encourage
collaboration among the administrative
authorities, civil society and start-ups in
their search for innovative solutions that
will serve the administration as well as civil
society.
Spaces for exchange and cooperation
create a way of continuously breathing
life into the concept of open government.
They incorporate all three pillars – open
data, participation and cooperation – enabling their long-term interaction and the
creation of useful synergies.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

11. Creating spaces for exchange and cooperation in North Rhine-Westphalia

Main Objective

“The goal is to drive forward the continued and targeted opening of North Rhine-Westphalia’s administration to collaborative and co-creative processes in the interests of cultivating innovative projects, user-friendly services and ­solutions to identifiable challenges facing the administration.

This commitment is intended to create spaces in North Rhine-Westphalia for exchange and cooperation with the administration. Providing central physical spaces fosters regular exchange among the Land and municipal administrations, start-ups and civil society and encourages goal-oriented collaboration – unrestricted by boundaries between disciplines, official remits or levels of responsibility for implementation.”

Milestones

11.1. Creating Land Government space [a physical location provided by the Government of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia] for exchange and agile cooperation

11.2. Developing a plan for a GovTech initiative and testing in a pilot project

11.3. Holding start-up pitches at administrative offices

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Germany’s action plan at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Germany_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf.

Commitment Analysis
This commitment will establish a physical space for innovative solutions for North Rhine-Westphalia’s public administration. It seeks to join government, civil society, and business stakeholders using innovation labs and gov-tech initiatives. By focusing on new ways to collaborate between government and civil society while designing public services, the commitment is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation.

Germany has several initiatives to advance innovative, technology-driven practices in the public sector (e.g., the regOGLs discussed in Commitment 1 and the Digital Innovation Team discussed in Commitment 4). Tech4Germany [98] and Work4 Germany [99] offer fellowships for technical and civil society innovators to work within the public sector. Similar initiatives exist in other countries, some of which are well-established. Estimates suggest that there are around 20 civic innovation labs in the US alone. [100] In the UK, Nesta [101] and the Government Digital Service [102] command substantive resources to promote civic and digital innovation in the government. Germany has also established physical spaces for co-creating innovation in government and societal use of technology. [103]

Established civic and technology labs in the public sector have catalyzed innovation. [104] Likewise, it is believed that physical proximity and creative spaces can spur more innovation within and between organizations. [105] Successful early experience with the Tech4Germany program has generated fresh ideas for improving government services through initiatives that connect civil servants and tech entrepreneurs. [106]

However, there has been increased reflection on the early initiatives’ progress and some have been scaled back or disbanded entirely. [107] Challenges include achieving a truly inclusive and balanced multistakeholder commitment; productively combining civic and technical innovation; and integrating innovations into everyday government practice. In addition, it is unclear whether the ideas produced from this commitment will contribute directly to values of open government and inclusive participation or only target a narrow band of highly-skilled tech entrepreneurs. The potential impact of this commitment is therefore minor.

The commitment leaves open whether the establishment of a collaboration space for government, civil society, and technical experts will also be accompanied by a multi-stakeholder governance model. Equitable co-hosting could invigorate this area and promise new experiences and learning. [108] An interesting reference point could be the Hague Humanity Hub, which joins representatives from the public sector, civil society, and academia to work on humanitarian issues. [109]

[103] See the Verschwoer Haus in the city of Ulm (https://verschwoerhaus.de/en/das-verschwoerhaus/).
[104] See for H.V. Carstensen and C. Bason, “Powering collaborative policy innovation: Can innovation labs help?” in The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 17 no.1 (2012): 1−26, https://www.innovation.cc/scholarly-style/2012_17_1_4_christian_bason_innovate-labs.pdf.
[105] M. Gross and A. Krellmann, “Etnwicklungsfelder fuer das kommunale Management in der Digitalen Verwaltung” [Development areas for municipal management in digital administration] in Handbuch Digitale Verwaltung H. Lühr, R. Jabkowski, and S. Smentek, eds. (Kommunal-und Schul-Verlag, 2019).
[106] Reports that the government may bring this independent initiative in-house and scale it up attest to its success (see Tagesspiegel Background, Digitalisierung &KI, (8 Apr. 2020)).
[107] Tamlin Magee and Tom Macaulay, “The major milestones of the Government Digital Service (GDS)” (ComputerWorld, 8 Jan. 2020), https://www.computerworld.com/article/3412240/the-major-milestones-of-the-government-digital-service-gds.html (concerns over the UK’s GDS); Jennifer Guay, “How Denmark lost its MindLab: the inside story” (apolitical, 5 Jun. 2018), https://apolitical.co/en/solution_article/how-denmark-lost-its-mindlab-the-inside-story (MindLab, one of the first civic innovation labs for government, offers a cautious account about the challenge of fusing civic and technology innovation approaches to government reform).
[108] Many existing initiatives appear to be hosted by either a government or a civil entity, with limited dedicated co-working arrangements, e.g., the First Office Hub in London (https://www.firstofficehub.com/office-space/united-kingdom/westminster/westminster/public-hall/1052) and the OpenGov Hub in Washington, D.C. (http://opengovhub.org/). The San Francisco-based Superpublic attracted both public and private actors working to upgrade government services. However, it closed after just one year due to financial difficulties (Katya Schwenk, "Innovation labs take a gamble to improve city government" (StateScoop, 5 Jul. 2019), https://statescoop.com/innovation-labs-government-cities-successful/).

Commitments

  1. Participatory Development of Research and Innovation Policy

    DE0022, 2019, Public Participation

  2. Participatory Creation of Regulatory Policy

    DE0023, 2019, Public Participation

  3. Digital Strategy Pilot for Rural Regions

    DE0024, 2019, Public Participation

  4. Open Government in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0025, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Policy Co-Creation in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0026, 2019, Land Rights & Spatial Planning

  6. Data Sovereignty in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0027, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Open Government Portal in Saxony

    DE0028, 2019, E-Government

  8. Open-Source Software in Public Administrations in Schleswig-Holstein

    DE0029, 2019, Public Participation

  9. Regional Open Government Labs

    DE0016, 2019, Public Participation

  10. Civil Society Consulation on Foreign Policy

    DE0017, 2019, Public Participation

  11. Create Youth Strategy

    DE0018, 2019, Marginalized Communities

  12. Create Federal Agency for Digital Innovation

    DE0019, 2019, Public Participation

  13. Transparency and Participation in International Aid

    DE0020, 2019, Access to Information

  14. Strengthen and Socialize Open Data Policy

    DE0021, 2019, Access to Information

  15. Conditions for OGP Participation

    DE0001, 2017, Public Participation

  16. Open Data in Administrative Practice

    DE0002, 2017, Access to Information

  17. Open Data Environment

    DE0003, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Access to Spatial Data

    DE0004, 2017, Access to Information

  19. Financial Transparency - EITI Standard

    DE0005, 2017, Access to Information

  20. Transparency in Development Policy

    DE0006, 2017, Access to Information

  21. Starred commitment Open Data for Intelligent Mobility

    DE0007, 2017, Access to Information

  22. Citizen Participation in Environmental Policy and Urban Development

    DE0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  23. Electronic Procedures for Family Benefits

    DE0009, 2017, E-Government

  24. Knowledge Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People

    DE0010, 2017, E-Government

  25. Local Alliances for Family Initiative

    DE0011, 2017, Public Participation

  26. Share of Women and Men in Leadership Positions, Private and Private Sectors

    DE0012, 2017, E-Government

  27. Open Access to Academic Literature

    DE0013, 2017, E-Government

  28. Science Year 2018

    DE0014, 2017, Public Participation

  29. Federal Competition “Living Together Hand in Hand”

    DE0015, 2017, Citizenship & Immigration

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