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Netherlands

Dilemma Logic (NL0029)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Netherlands Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Information Council (VoRa)

Support Institution(s): VNG, IPO SCP, EUR, NSOB, WRR

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government

IRM Review

IRM Report: Netherlands Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Pending IRM Review

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Dilemma logic
1 July 2018 - 30 June 2020
Main action owner (organisation) Information Council (VoRa)?
Description of the action point
Which social issue does the action point seek to address? • Dissatisfaction among citizens and entrepreneurs about government policy reveals a need for more recognition of public unease about the reasons behind government interference, the considerations and the steps on which policy, implementation and compliance are based.
What is the action point? • Awareness of the need to pay attention to dilemmas at an early stage and how to communicate this when developing policy (‘dilemma logic’).
• Professionalisation of the presentation of dilemmas and the presence of administrators and civil servants
• The initial focus is on national government, after which the initiative will be rolled out to other levels of government.
How will the action point contribute to remedying the social issue? • Perceived incentive for the fairness (procedural justice) of government actions
• Better recognition of how and why government actions are taken in all phases of policy preparation
• Extension of the repertoire of action, on paper (letters, memoranda) and in dialogues and personal contacts
• Appreciative appeal to skills and job satisfaction.
Why is this action point relevant to OGP values? • Working with dilemmas contributes to a much earlier release of information, improving the quality of the information that is released, improving the accessibility of information and the right to information.
• The action point reinforces some basic professional qualities and thus the pride and motives of public professionals
• It helps to create a constructive atmosphere for community organisations.
• It strengthens the tool set / repertoire for public accountability.
Additional information The SGO attaches great importance to strengthening the presentation of dilemmas and considerations (see for example ‘Van wens naar daad’ (From desire to action)). The Information Council (VoRa) has included this topic as a priority in its Gemeenschappelijk Jaarprogramma 2018 (Joint Annual Programme for 2018).
Milestone with a verifiable result (please note: SMART) Start date: End date:
Phase 1: exploration at ministries:
- workshops; education
- case studies (pilots)
- research tools (evidence)
- preparing a guideline for ministries 01 February 2018 01 January 2019
Phase 2: deeper development:
- embedding in training courses, procedures for ministries and for the entire national government
- learning network on http://www.Onscommunicatierijk.nl
- Information afternoon at the Academie voor Overheidscommunicatie (Academy of Government Information and Communication) (also for local authorities) 01 September 2018 01 September 2019
Phase 3: broader development:
- Guideline for local authorities
- Transfer of knowledge and skills 01 November 2018 01 January 2020
Contact information
Name of the responsible person representing the main action owner Guido Rijnja
Position, organisational unit Communication policy adviser with the Dutch Government Information Service (RVD)
Email, phone number g.rijnja@minaz.nl, +31(0)6-46875112Other actors involved Authorities involved
VNG, IPO

Other organisations or bodies (such as community organisations or the private sector) SCP, EUR, NSOB, WRR

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Dilemma logic

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

  1. Awareness of the need to pay attention to dilemmas at an early stage and how to communicate this when developing policy (‘dilemma logic’).
  2. Professionalisation of the presentation of dilemmas and the presence of administrators and civil servants
  3. The initial focus is on national government, after which the initiative will be rolled out to other levels of government. [29]

Milestones

7.1. Exploration at ministries:

- workshops; education
- case studies (pilots)
- research tools (evidence)
- preparing a guideline for ministries

7.2. Deeper development:

- Embedding in training courses, procedures for ministries and for the entire national government
- Learning network on http://www.onscommunicatierijk.nl

- Information afternoon at the Academie voor Overheidscommunicatie (Academy of Government Information and Communication) (also for local authorities)

7.3. Broader development:

- Guideline for local authorities
- Transfer of knowledge and skills

Start Date: February 2018     

End Date: January 2020

Context and Objectives

Professionals in the political sphere, ranging from elected officials to civil servants, often find themselves needing to explain unpopular decisions and policies to their constituents or communities. In addition, the rise of social media presents new challenges for those communicating political messages to the public. This commitment aims to better link the presentation of government policies to the level of satisfaction about government policy among citizens and entrepreneurs. By adopting the proposed method of ‘dilemma logic’ during the decision-making process, the ambition is to remedy perceived injustice and unfairness of government action and instill a sense of procedural fairness. [30] The commitment plans a number of activities that are verifiable, though only generally. These include organizing workshops, case studies, and developing guidelines for ministries (milestone 7.1), as well as organizing subsequent training sessions and establishing a practitioners’ network on a website for government officials working on communications (milestone 7.2). Finally, the plan is to scale this work up and roll out the sharing of knowledge and skills at the policy-making departments of ministries (milestone 7.3).

According to the government, the problem this commitment seeks to address is the perceived fear of disclosure dilemma’s in the first phase of policymaking. However, and notwithstanding the difficulty to point to specific causes for citizens’ mistrust and dissatisfaction with governments, the commitment’s objectives would have benefitted from being drafted to identify a well-defined problem to be resolved. This could entail efforts to investigate what frames or messages are better received during the early stages of policy-making and instill trust and understanding in future government policy, and ideally where a baseline can be established, for instance through focus groups. The objectives for this commitment, however, are currently geared to defining project-related tasks as opposed to resolving problems around understanding and satisfaction with government policy. It is therefore difficult to assess the direct relevance of this commitment to the OGP values.

In addition, in order to understand a dilemma and apply logic reasoning, citizens need information in support of the various arguments and positions. If as part of dilemma logic, the government proactively releases to the public all documents at their disposal that shaped the thinking around a dilemma, this commitment would be transformative in its impact. At this point, however, deliberations at for instance the weekly council of ministers are designated state-secret under the Dutch Constitution and its minutes are classified for 20 years. [31] Furthermore, the ability to communicate government policy properly to the public may also have to do with individual skills and organizational culture. These aspects are not captured in the commitment nor is it clear how such skills and culture relate to dilemma logic and via what mechanisms. Therefore, the commitment’s potential impact cannot be scored higher than minor.

Next steps

Recognizing that this work is important for the way government cultivates relationships with its constituents, the IRM researcher recommends the following:

  • Delineate the work better and integrate these insights into specific or concrete policy decisions or proposals. This is particularly relevant to Commitment 6 on open algorithms. Algorithms and their perceived fairness (or bias) are increasingly subject to political debate and activism. Social psychology and the concept of procedural fairness would provide an opportunity to test this in practice and link the opening of algorithms with the idea of dilemma logic.
  • Apply specific research tools and hypothesis in future work, so that (e.g. via focus groups) one can learn and verify the value of information or datasets and its relevance for citizens to better understand specific government dilemmas. Such work could be an important contribution to the broader field of open government studies.
  • Recognize that actions often still speak louder than words, and government action itself is a strong determinant of trust and satisfaction. [32] Subsequently the commitment would benefit from a reflection on the place of dilemma logic in the broader field of determinants of government trust and satisfaction.

[29] The complete text of this commitment, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Netherlands_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf

[30] The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice. Springer US. 1988. Lind, E.Allan, Tyler, Tom R.

[31] https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/regering/ministerraad/werkwijze-ministerraad

[32] OECD, Statistics Working Papers, Trust and its determinants, https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/trust-and-its-determinants_869ef2ec-en


Commitments

  1. Local Digital Democracy

    NL0028, 2018, E-Government

  2. Dilemma Logic

    NL0029, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Join EITI

    NL0030, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Open Algorithms

    NL0031, 2018, Automated Decision-Making

  5. Open Local Decision-Making

    NL0032, 2018, Access to Information

  6. ‘Open by Design’ Pilots

    NL0033, 2018, Access to Information

  7. Open Contracting

    NL0034, 2018, Access to Information

  8. Open Parliament

    NL0035, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  9. Open Government Standard and Dashboard

    NL0036, 2018, Access to Information

  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, Access to Information

  13. Stuiveling Open Data Award

    NL0020, 2016, Access to Information

  14. Groningen Open Data Re-Use

    NL0021, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Releasing Ministerial Research Reports

    NL0022, 2016, Access to Information

  16. Detailed Open Spending Data

    NL0023, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Open Local Authority Decision-Making

    NL0024, 2016, Access to Information

  18. Training Civil Servants on Public Participation

    NL0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Easier Freedom of Information Requests

    NL0026, 2016, Access to Information

  20. Open Government Expertise Centre (LEOO)

    NL0027, 2016, Access to Information

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

    NL0001, 2013, Access to Information

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

    NL0002, 2013, Access to Information

  23. Open House of Representatives

    NL0003, 2013, E-Government

  24. Instruments for Integrity

    NL0004, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  25. Revamp the Legislative Calendar

    NL0005, 2013, Access to Information

  26. More Online Consultation

    NL0006, 2013, E-Government

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

    NL0007, 2013, Access to Information

  28. Informal Approach to Freedom of Information Requests

    NL0008, 2013, Access 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, Access to Information

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

    NL0018, 2013, Access to Information

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