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Netherlands

Training Civil Servants on Public Participation (NL0025)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Netherlands 2016-2018 National Action Plan

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

Support Institution(s): Ministry of BZK and the civil society

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Infrastructure & Transport, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Netherlands End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Netherlands Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

If there is to be good and effective dialogue, it is essential that the government is open to civil society initiatives. It must actively involve citizens in the development and implementation of policy, and must work alongside the social partners. After all, the government is part of today’s networking society. It is no longer ‘in charge’ but a partner in the performance of the public tasks. The government is expected to ‘work and learn alongside the people’. The civil society partners have called for greater investment in the public sector staff, and specifically in the development of the skills they need to interact effectively with today’s network society. It is a question of further professionalisation.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has already done much to promote public consultation and participation. It continues to pursue the ambitions set out in the former action plan and is devoting considerable attention to developing the skills of staff and managers. All activities focus on the attitudes and behaviour needed to perform effectively within today’s network society. The Ministry of I&M serves as an inspiring role model for other government departments in that it is demonstrating a highly effective form of interaction and cooperation.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Develop the skills of public sector staff

Commitment Text:

Title: The public officer as professional within the civil society

The government is expected to ‘work and learn alongside the people’. The civil society partners have called for greater investment in the public sector staff, and specifically in the development of the skills they need to interact effectively with today’s network society. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment continues to pursue the ambitions set out in the former action plan and is devoting considerable attention to developing the skills of staff and managers. All activities focus on the attitudes and behavior needed to perform effectively within today’s network society.

Milestones:

1. Professionalisation course 'The Art of Connecting': in 2018, all policy staff within the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment will have attended a professionalisation course

2. Work processes: By the end of 2017, all work processes will have been adapted.

3. Approach Strengthening Professional Skills: in 2017 the Approach Strengthening Professional Skills will start.

4. Communities of Practice: staff who have followed the professionalisation course 'The Art of Connecting', will come together in a peer review setting and, based on actual case studies, exchange experiences of acting in the different roles.

5. Management professionalisation: by the end of 2017, all managers within Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment will have received training in interaction with their networking staff.

6. Providing input for formulating ambitions for the public sector as a whole.

Responsible institution: Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

Supporting institution(s): The Ministry of Interior and Kingdom relations, the civil society

Start date: 1 January 2016 End date: 30 June 2018

Editorial Note: This is a truncated version of the milestone text. For the full commitment text, please see The Netherlands National Action Plan (https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Netherlands_NAP-Appendix_2016-2018_EN_revised-with-changes.pdf)

Context and Objectives

The action plan states that the government must actively involve citizens and work alongside social partners in the development and implementation of policy. XX[Note97: National action plan, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/netherlands-2016-2018-national-action-plan.]XX This is not always the case in policymaking. The civil society partners have called for greater investment in public sector staff, and specifically in the development of the skills they need to interact effectively with today’s networked society. The main objective of this commitment is professionalizing public officers to interact with civil society. The six milestones outline the specific course, activities, community of practice and general training of staff. This commitment’s overall specificity is low, because the commitment text does not clearly identify what type of training will be included in the professionalization courses listed, nor does it explain how these courses will open up dialogue between government and civil society.

Although vaguely formulated, this commitment is relevant to civic participation since it aims to improve the skills and management of government staff that could enable participation. The commitment's scope is limited, since it covers the training of staff within the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. A more transformative commitment would clearly describe the goal of stated training sessions and cover staff in all relevant public sectors that work with civil society.

Completion

According to the government self-assessment report XX[Note98: Midterm self- assessment report, opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Netherlands_Mid-term_Self-Assessment-Report_2016-2018_EN.pdf.]XX, six out of 11 tranches (groups) of civil servants participated in the course 'The Art of Connecting' (milestone 1) by June 2017. Though the project manager said that an attendance list was made, there are no clear numbers or percentages to verify the completion as stated by the government. The self-assessment report states that in the second half of 2017, the work process (milestone 2) in some 10-15 policy files will be adapted. There is no information on the progress on the third milestone. In 2016 and 2017, two Communities of Practice (milestone 4) were held. The report on milestones five is unclear. As for milestone six, an 'Energetic Civil Servant' workshop was held during the ‘How Open! Festival’ on 12 December 2016. XX[Note99: How Open Festival workshop, open-overheid.nl/programma-hoe-open-festival/#rdv-calendar.]XX The project leader told the IRM researcher that there are no (publicly available) records on any of the milestones.

Next Steps

If taken forward into the next action plan, the government needs to reformulate the commitment to clearly communicate the topics and goals of the training sessions and describe how these activities would enable greater civic participation. Additionally, as one CSO pointed out in the focus group, the commitment should also address the risk that informal and confidential decision making may lead to less public accountability.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 7. Develop the skills of public sector staff

Commitment Text:

The public officer as professional within the civil society

The government is expected to ‘work and learn alongside the people’. The civil society partners have called for greater investment in the public sector staff, and specifically in the development of the skills they need to interact effectively with today’s network society. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment continues to pursue the ambitions set out in the former action plan and is devoting considerable attention to developing the skills of staff and managers. All activities focus on the attitudes and behavior needed to perform effectively within today’s network society.

Milestones:

  1. Professionalisation course “The Art of Connecting”: in 2018, all policy staff within the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment will have attended a professionalisation course
  2. Work processes: By the end of 2017, all work processes will have been adapted.
  3. Approach Strengthening Professional Skills: in 2017 the Approach Strengthening Professional Skills will start.
  4. Communities of Practice: staff who have followed the professionalisation course “The Art of Connecting”, will come together in a peer review setting and, based on actual case studies, exchange experiences of acting in the different roles.
  5. Management professionalisation: by the end of 2017, all managers within Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment will have received training in interaction with their networking staff.
  6. Providing input for formulating ambitions for the public sector as a whole.

Editorial Note: This is a truncated version of the milestone text. For the full commitment text, please see the Netherlands national action plan (https://bit.ly/30UBDHL).

Commitment Aim

The main objective of this commitment was to professionalize public officers in the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment to interact with civil society. The six milestones outline the specific course, activities, community of practice, and general training of staff.

Status

Midterm: Limited

According to the government mid-term self-assessment report, [27] six out of the 11 planned tranches (groups) of the course “The Art of Connecting” (Milestone 1) had taken place by June 2017. The self-assessment report stated that in the second half of 2017, the work process (Milestone 2) in some 10-15 policy files would be adapted. The third milestone was included in a revised version of the action plan in early 2017. In 2016 and 2017, two Communities of Practice (Milestone 4) were held. The report on Milestone 5 is unclear. As for Milestone 6, an “Energetic Civil Servant” workshop was held during the How Open? Festival on 12 December 2016. [28] The project leader told the former IRM researcher at that time there were no (publicly-available) records on any of the milestones, because the nature of this commitment was about process and culture change.

End of term: Substantial

On 27 September 2018, the lead institution’s spokesperson provided the former IRM researcher a table that showed that 87% (around 825 people) of the policy officials have followed the workshop “The Art of Connecting” in Milestone 1. [29] According to the lead implementing institution, by that time all 11 tranches had taken place. [30] There are two external pieces that record the workshops taking place [31]. The lead implementing agency shared an evaluation report of the workshops with the IRM that highlights lessons from the series of courses. [32]

The lead institution reports that Approach Strengthening Professional Skills started early 2017 and continued in 2018. [33] Activities continued after the end of the implementation period of this action in 2019. [34] (Milestone 3).

According to the lead institution, three communities of practice took place during the last year of implementation. [35] The Beter Benutten case study is captured in a comprehensive report that includes lessons and recommendations. [36] There are also studies available for NOVI and Lansingerland. [37]

As for the training of managers, during the review process for this report the lead institution noted that a new Leadership Program was being developed for middle management, that included cooperation across borders and the ideas from the workshops. This initiative would continue through 2019.

Though the lead institution reports that the knowledge and experience acquired by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment in the learning pathways is shared in various ways (Milestone 6), they also confirmed they did not have concrete evidence to share at the time.

Did It Open Government?

Civic Participation: Did not change

Though the eventual aim of this commitment is for civil servants in the Ministry to interact with civil society, the relevance to civic participation was closely linked to the possibility that this approach would enable more participation.

So far, the activities seem to be internally-oriented. How government uses the internal trainings and skills to improve quality of engagement with civil society or create more opportunities for participation remains to be seen. To that extent, the lead institution agreed that this is a long-term process of organizational development and that the commitment contributes only with some influence. [38]

Carried Forward?

This commitment is not carried over to the next action plan. However, as noted in the end of term completion update, this is an ongoing initiative in the Ministry.

[27] “Midterm Self-Assessment Report 2016-2018”, ibid.
[28] “Program How Open? Festival”, Open Overheid, https://bit.ly/2Yo1aM4.
[29] “Annual Report 2017”, Operational Management IenW 01, 26 March 2018, https://bit.ly/2MvsCBl.
[30] Government response to IRM report during pre-publication review.
[31] “Werkateliers Vakmanschap ‘Kunst van verbinden’”, Publiek Versnellers, available [in Dutch] at https://bit.ly/316T3RP; and “Workshop Craftsmanship, art of connecting: Contact”, Van Vieren, https://bit.ly/2Kaqxrs.
[32] The government of the Netherlands shared the evaluation report with IRM staff during the pre-publication review of this End of Term report.
[33] The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment Team "Strengthen Craftsmanship for the Energetic Society" for 2017 and 2018 were shared with the IRM staff during the pre-publication review of this End of Term report.
[34] Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment Team "Strengthen Craftsmanship for the Energetic Society" file:///Users/denissemiranda/Downloads/VVES%20Jaarplan%202019.pdf
[35] NOVI, Beter Benutten and Lansingerland.
[36] Theo van Bruggen, Rens Dautzenberg, Teun Groenen, Victoria Dekker, Jacques Handelé, Els Snel, Gita Maas, Case Study Beter Benutten, April 2018.
[37] The government of the Netherlands shared the reports with IRM staff during the pre-publication review of this End of Term report.
[38] Comments provided by lead institution during the review process for this report.

Commitments

  1. Local Digital Democracy

    NL0028, 2018, E-Government

  2. Dilemma Logic

    NL0029, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Join EITI

    NL0030, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  4. Open Algorithms

    NL0031, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Open Local Decision-Making

    NL0032, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. ‘Open by Design’ Pilots

    NL0033, 2018, E-Government

  7. Open Contracting

    NL0034, 2018, Open Contracting and Procurement

  8. Open Parliament

    NL0035, 2018, Audits and Controls

  9. Open Government Standard and Dashboard

    NL0036, 2018, E-Government

  10. Pioneering Network for an Open Government for Municipalities

    NL0037, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Transparent Political Party Finance

    NL0038, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  12. National Open Data Agenda

    NL0019, 2016, Capacity Building

  13. Stuiveling Open Data Award

    NL0020, 2016, Open Data

  14. Groningen Open Data Re-Use

    NL0021, 2016, Infrastructure & Transport

  15. Releasing Ministerial Research Reports

    NL0022, 2016, Health

  16. Detailed Open Spending Data

    NL0023, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  17. Open Local Authority Decision-Making

    NL0024, 2016, Open Data

  18. Training Civil Servants on Public Participation

    NL0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Easier Freedom of Information Requests

    NL0026, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Open Government Expertise Centre (LEOO)

    NL0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Further Develop and Promote Disclosure and Use of Open Data

    NL0001, 2013, E-Government

  22. Increase Financial Transparency Through Open Budget and Experiments with Open Spending and Budget Monitoring

    NL0002, 2013, E-Government

  23. Open House of Representatives

    NL0003, 2013, E-Government

  24. Instruments for Integrity

    NL0004, 2013, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  25. Revamp the Legislative Calendar

    NL0005, 2013, E-Government

  26. More Online Consultation

    NL0006, 2013, E-Government

  27. More Transparency in Decision-Making Through Volgdewet.Nl Legislation-Tracking Website

    NL0007, 2013, E-Government

  28. Informal Approach to Freedom of Information Requests

    NL0008, 2013, Right to Information

  29. From Rules to Freedom

    NL0009, 2013, Public Participation

  30. Change Attitudes and Procedures Through Smarter Working and ‘Public Servant 2.0’

    NL0010, 2013, Capacity Building

  31. Water Coalition

    NL0011, 2013, Public Participation

  32. Develop and Implement Participation Policy at the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

    NL0012, 2013, Public Participation

  33. Make Government Information Accessible and Easy to Find

    NL0013, 2013, Capacity Building

  34. Make Citizens Better Informed and More Empowered: Public Inspection and Correction of Information

    NL0014, 2013, E-Government

  35. Open Announcements and Notifications

    NL0015, 2013, E-Government

  36. Public Services and the User Perspective

    NL0016, 2013, E-Government

  37. Designate Categories of Government Information for Active Access

    NL0017, 2013, Capacity Building

  38. Rethink Information Management and Active Access: Four ‘Open by Design’ Pilot Projects

    NL0018, 2013, E-Government