Dilemma Logic (NL0029)
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, +31(0)6-46875112Other actors involved Authorities involved
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:
- 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. 
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.  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.  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.
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.  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.
 The complete text of this commitment, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Netherlands_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf
 The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice. Springer US. 1988. Lind, E.Allan, Tyler, Tom R.
 OECD, Statistics Working Papers, Trust and its determinants, https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/trust-and-its-determinants_869ef2ec-en
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