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Latvia

Platform unifying Gov. webpages (LV0020)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Latvia National Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: State Chancellery; Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development

Support Institution(s): Public administration intitutions (ministries and subordinated institutions) General public

Policy Areas

E-Government

IRM Review

IRM Report: Latvia End-of-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Status quo: Many public institutions have functionally and technically outdated websites, which do not meet the requirement of modern technologies, cannot ensure customer-oriented services, and are not user-friendly. Different contents management platforms exist, and it is not possible to share best practices. A study established that only 16 out of 115 government institution websites have been recognised as good by users. It has been admitted that the websites have low functionality and non-transparent structures. The main objective: Public institutions have state-of-the-art, user-friendly websites tailored to the needs of the public.
This will be achieved by devising a uniform website management platform centralised at the government level.
The reform will be conducive to achieving the following aims:
1. The quality and security requirements for the public institution websites in the country are set in a centralised manner.
2. Customer-targeted service is a quality communication channel that facilitates public participation. The websites are based on state-of-the-art technological solutions, they are user friendly and of straightforward design.
3. A considerable financial benefit ensured, as possibilities are precluded for creating new websites or investing into those on the grounds of subjective decisions. Public administration will not have to overspend due to the same functionalities being developed on repeated occasions.
4. More effective planning of the development of public institution websites.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

3. Establishing a common platform for the management of public institution websites

Commitment Text:

Status quo: Many public institutions have functionally and technically outdated websites, which do not meet the requirement of modern technologies, cannot ensure customer-oriented services, and are not user-friendly. Different contents management platforms exist, and it is not possible to share best practices. A study established that only 16 out of 115 government institution websites have been recognised as good by users. It has been admitted that the websites have low functionality and non-transparent structures.

The main objective: Public institutions have state-of-the-art, user-friendly websites tailored to the needs of the public. This will be achieved by devising a uniform website management platform centralised at the government level. The reform will be conducive to achieving the following aims:

1. The quality and security requirements for the public institution websites in the country are set in a centralised manner.

2. Customer-targeted service is a quality communication channel that facilitates public participation. The websites are based on state-of-the-art technological solutions, they are user friendly and of straightforward design.

3. A considerable financial benefit ensured, as possibilities are precluded for creating new websites or investing into those on the grounds of subjective decisions. Public administration will not have to overspend due to the same functionalities being developed on repeated occasions.

4. More effective planning of the development of public institution websites

Responsible institution: State Chancellery; Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development

Supporting institution(s): Public administration institutions (ministries and subordinated institutions), General public

Start date: 2013.................... End date: 2020

Context and Objectives

Each ministry and government institution uses its own IT system to procure its home page. Regulations compel government institutions to follow common principles for their websites, but institutional home pages have different styles and functionalities. This makes it difficult for end-users to easily navigate and find necessary information. Public resources are also not being used efficiently as institutional pages can be updated following changes in leadership, identity, or style, rather than functional needs. In addition, few websites are currently adopted for viewing on mobile devices.

The aim of the commitment is to develop a joint platform for the home pages of all ministries and government institutions. The government intends to establish quality and security requirements, up-to-date technologies, a simple functionality, and new designs. This would facilitate citizens’ access to information and provide new technologies for civic participation. In this way, the government would implement EU Directive 2016/2102 and European Standard EN 301 549 V1.1.2 EU Directive 2016/2102 requires EU countries to improve the accessibility of public sector websites and mobile applications by making them more perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. The Directive is available here: http://bit.ly/2oEWm40. European Standard EN 301 549 V1.1.2, on the other hand, establishes the accessibility requirements for all Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products and services in public procurement. The Standard is available here: http://bit.ly/1MSXUHm  by ensuring access to websites for persons with disabilities, and using specific tools and programming solutions for citizens to get acquainted with online information provided by the public administration.

As written, however, the commitment does not specify how it expects to involve citizens. The text mentions that “customer-targeted service is a quality communication channel that facilitates public participation,” but does not identify which new services will be provided, or how they will improve communication channels between government and citizens. The government requested NGO input, which is expected to feed into changes to the website; this consultation occurred in 2013, prior to the start of the current action plan. Home page of the Cabinet of Ministers, http://tap.mk.gov.lv/sabiedribas-lidzdaliba/vk-dokumenti/-/timekla-vietnu-attistibas-koncepcija/  As a result, the commitment is relevant to access to information and technology and innovation.

The commitment is low on specifics. It proposes a “common platform” for government websites, but does not specify any features or functions one could assess. It also does not indicate how exactly the websites will become “state-of-the-art,” “user-friendly,” or more effectively planned.

The IRM researcher considers the potential impact of the commitment to be moderate, since uniformity will make it easier for citizens to access information. Moreover, the standards of the home pages will be elaborated on the basis of the needs of the ministries as well as NGO suggestions. The results could simplify the process of finding information, increase the amount of open data and e-services offered by ministries, and enable the public to track policy developments.

Completion

This commitment was also part of the first action plan. Research results and government-approved conception guidelines shaped ideas for improving the websites. These ideas were elaborated and published for discussion among ministries and the public on 19 December 2013. Guidelines for developing government websites at http://tap.mk.gov.lv/sabiedribas-lidzdaliba/vk-dokumenti/-/timekla-vietnu-attistibas-koncepcija/.  Later, on 21 August 2014, the State Chancellery extended the discussion period to February 2015 to secure consent and compliance from all institutions involved. This commitment was carried forward to the second action plan. The State Chancellery surveyed NGOs in early 2014 as to their needs and the functionality of the existing home pages. According to the agency, this internal survey data will be used to develop the new website functionalities.

During the second action plan’s first year of implementation, the State Chancellery elaborated on the technical documentation for the investment program, which was to be funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The project was not included as a first-year funding priority, though, when interviewed, the State Chancellery indicated its intent to accelerate the process and prepare documentation for the Cabinet of Ministers to change the schedule of planned investments. Interview with Linda Jākobsone, State Chancellery, 17 August 2016.  It should be noted that the project will not produce results for a few years since it must go through the complicated and time-consuming procedures of EU funding. Nonetheless, the commitment is considered on time, according to information provided by the State Chancellery and given that it is a long-term investment project.

NGOs interviewed Interviews with Iveta Kažoka, Policy Centre “Providus,” 22 August 2016; and Kristīne Zonberga, Civic Alliance Latvia, 23 August 2016.

 are anxious for faster solutions, but there are no other resources at the government’s disposal for investment programs, and home pages are but one part of the broader public IT system.

Early Results (if any)

There are no results at this stage, apart from the technical documentation for the investment program.

Next Steps

This commitment should be carried forward to the next action plan, given its timeframe and importance to civil society. To ensure two-way communication, the IRM researcher recommends that developers’ terms of reference include consultations with stakeholders on the functionality and content of home pages.

In the aftermath of discussions at the Memorandum Council on including NGOs in the early stages of policy making, they (NGOs) suggested publishing yearly ministerial work plans. These plans, as well as opportunities to participate in the elaboration of drafts, should be included in the design of new website pages. The IRM researcher further recommends that a “public hearing” functionality be included on ministry home pages so that citizens can submit suggestions for improved policies overall.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 3. Uniform Web Platform

Commitment Text:

Uniform platform for the websites of the public institutions and information

Many public institutions have functionally and technically outdated websites, which do not always meet the requirements of modern technologies, can ensure customer-oriented services, and are not user-friendly. There are different content management platforms, and it is not possible to share the best practises. A study established that only 16 out of 115 public authorities’ websites have been recognised as good by users. It has been admitted that the websites have low functionality and non-transparent structures.

Main objective: The development of modern, user-friendly websites that are tailored to societal needs has to be encouraged.

This will be achieved by developing a uniform, at the government level centralised website management platform. The reform will be conducive to achieving the following aims:

1. The quality and security requirements for the public institution websites in the country are set in a centralised manner.

2. Customer-targeted service, high-quality communication channel that facilitates public participation will be provided. The websites will be based on modern technological solutions. They will be user-friendly and of straightforward design.

3. A considerable financial benefit ensured, as possibilities are precluded for creating new websites or investing into those on the grounds of subjective decisions. Public administration will not have to overspend due to the same functionalities being developed on repeated occasions.

4. More effective planning of the development of public institution websites (homepages). There are no substantive differences between the original and revised versions of the action plan regarding this commitment.

Responsible Institutions: State Chancellery, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development

Supporting Institutions: Other public administration institutions (ministries and subordinate institutions), general public

Start date: 2013..................... End date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The commitment text above is drawn from the updated version of the action plan, published in October 2016 and available at http://bit.ly/2EK34dH. The original version of the action plan is available at http://bit.ly/2ptZ0sq. To see the changes between the two versions, visit http://bit.ly/2FPvK4r.

Commitment Aim

Before the implementation of the current action plan, each ministry and government institution used its own IT system and thus procured the development of its own web page. Although regulations existed that obliged government websites to follow common principles, institutional web pages had different styles and functionality. As a result, it was difficult for end users to easily navigate them and find information. In addition, instead of reusing a previously existing web platform, institutions often wasted public resources creating unique institutional pages after changes in leadership, identity, or style. To make matters worse, only a few websites could be viewed on mobile devices.

To address these issues, this commitment aims to establish a common platform for government web pages, with shared standards that address the needs of people with disabilities and that enable easy access to information through mobile devices. Achieving these goals would make it easier for citizens to access information and could provide new technologies for civic participation. However, as written, the commitment does not specify how it expects to foster civic participation. Similar to the first and second commitments, this is a long-term investment project, and tangible results were not expected during the implementation of the current action plan.

Status

Midterm: Limited

During the first year of the action plan’s implementation, the State Chancellery prepared technical documentation for the investment programme to be funded by the European Regional Development Fund. During the development of the report, the project was not among the first-year funding priorities. However, when interviewed, a representative from the State Chancellery stated its intent to accelerate the process and prepare documentation for the Cabinet of Ministers to change the schedule of planned investments. Linda Jākobsone (State Chancellery), interview by IRM researcher, 17 August 2016. For more information, see the 2015–2016 IRM midterm report. Open Government Partnership, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Latvia Progress Report 2015–2016, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Latvia_Progress-Report_2015-2017_for-public-comment_0.pdf.

End of term: Limited

The Cabinet of Ministers approved the financing for the project on 29 August 2017, after the close of the action plan’s implementation period. “A Common Platform for Public Authorities’ Websites—the Government Gives Green Light to the Implementation of the Project,” Cabinet of Ministers, 29 August 2017, http://www.mk.gov.lv/lv/aktualitates/vienota-platforma-valsts-iestazu-timeklvietnem-valdiba-dod-zalo-gaismu-projekta. According to the State Chancellery, it has conducted a survey for users of web pages. The survey shows that users require mobile versions of web pages and would like disclosed information to be better structured. Search options could also be improved. In addition, users pointed out the need to ensure that visual and textual information are concise. The State Chancellery also conducted a survey of 99 government institutions showing that their web pages are built on outdated technological frameworks. Ibid. The results of both surveys will be used to define the technical specifications for the procurement of services for the platform’s development. However, given that the core goal of the commitment—establishing a common platform for government websites—was not completed, this commitment had limited completion by the end of the action plan.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Did Not Change

Since the new platform was not created and is not operational, this commitment did not change the status quo of access to information.

Carried Forward?

The commitment is not carried forward to the third action plan. Nonetheless, the activity is still included in the government’s plans, Ibid. and the third OGP action plan does mention that the platform will be created as a means for better public involvement. In the future, the government should specify how exactly the platform will improve civic engagement, so that civil society can monitor and contribute to the development of the new web features. The IRM researcher recommends including the following on websites: a public participation section; a calendar for planned policy documents and draft laws; a consultation section; information about current working groups and consultative bodies, their participants, agendas (published prior to meetings), and protocols; the contact information of officers responsible for working with NGOs; and a place for the submission of ideas, among other features.


Latvia's Commitments

  1. public participation in decision-making

    LV0028, 2017, Capacity Building

  2. e-legal-services

    LV0029, 2017, E-Government

  3. Open data

    LV0030, 2017, E-Government

  4. lobbying transparency

    LV0031, 2017, Capacity Building

  5. budget transparency

    LV0032, 2017, E-Government

  6. whistleblower protections

    LV0033, 2017, Capacity Building

  7. ethics in public management

    LV0034, 2017, Capacity Building

  8. zero bureaucracy

    LV0035, 2017, Legislation & Regulation

  9. open public procurement

    LV0036, 2017, E-Government

  10. transparency in state management

    LV0037, 2017, E-Government

  11. beneficial owenrship

    LV0038, 2017, Beneficial Ownership

  12. evidence-based governance

    LV0039, 2017, Capacity Building

  13. Starred commitment Concept note on publishing data

    LV0018, 2015, Open Data

  14. Portal drafting legislature and development of planning documents

    LV0019, 2015, E-Government

  15. Platform unifying Gov. webpages

    LV0020, 2015, E-Government

  16. Starred commitment Transparency of selecting candidates for the boards and councils of public entity enterprises

    LV0021, 2015, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Supervising officials responsible of public resources

    LV0022, 2015, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  18. Sustainable model of financing NGOs

    LV0023, 2015, Civic Space

  19. Starred commitment Online collection of signatures on referenda

    LV0024, 2015, E-Government

  20. Draft law on protecting whistleblowers

    LV0025, 2015, Whistleblower Protections

  21. Assessment of the system of the financing political parties

    LV0026, 2015,

  22. Code of ethics and a Public Administration Employee’s Handbook for public sector

    LV0027, 2015, Capacity Building

  23. IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE INVOLVEMENT OF SOCIETY IN DECISION MAKING: NGO fund

    LV0001, 2012, Capacity Building

  24. IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE INVOLVEMENT OF SOCIETY IN DECISION MAKING: Strengthen Social Partners

    LV0002, 2012, Public Participation

  25. IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE INVOLVEMENT OF SOCIETY IN DECISION MAKING: Trade union law

    LV0003, 2012, Civic Space

  26. IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE INVOLVEMENT OF SOCIETY IN DECISION MAKING: NGO co-working

    LV0004, 2012, Civic Space

  27. IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE INVOLVEMENT OF SOCIETY IN DECISION MAKING: Public engagement model

    LV0005, 2012, Public Participation

  28. IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF PUBLIC SERVICE PROVISION : Internet Access Points

    LV0006, 2012, E-Government

  29. IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF PUBLIC SERVICE PROVISION : Public Service Assessment

    LV0007, 2012, Public Service Delivery

  30. IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF PUBLIC SERVICE PROVISION : Enhancing e-services

    LV0008, 2012, E-Government

  31. IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF PUBLIC SERVICE PROVISION : Transport e-services

    LV0009, 2012, E-Government

  32. RESTRICTING CORRUPTION : Asset disclosure

    LV0010, 2012, Asset Disclosure

  33. RESTRICTING CORRUPTION : Lobbying law

    LV0011, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  34. RESTRICTING CORRUPTION : Whistleblower protection

    LV0012, 2012, Whistleblower Protections

  35. RESTRICTING CORRUPTION : Public subsidy control

    LV0013, 2012, Private Sector

  36. RESTRICTING CORRUPTION : State owned enterprises management

    LV0014, 2012, Private Sector

  37. FACILITATING FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND INTRODUCING AN OPEN DATA SYSTEM : Single platform for Government websites and information

    LV0015, 2012, E-Government

  38. FACILITATING FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND INTRODUCING AN OPEN DATA SYSTEM : Online broadcasting from the Cabinet and Parliament

    LV0016, 2012, E-Government

  39. FACILITATING FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND INTRODUCING AN OPEN DATA SYSTEM : Website forpublic participation

    LV0017, 2012, E-Government