A Better Overview of Committees, Boards and Councils – More Public Access to Information and Better Opportunities for Further Use (NO0032)
The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs has
responsibility for keeping a record of central government committees, boards and
councils. The record is available in a database that can be accessed from the Norwegian
Government website, Regjeringen.no. The database contains information provided by
the various ministries, and has no facilities for advanced searching.
Make the record of committees, boards and councils easier to use for the general
public, public administration and research institutions.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
2. A better overview of committees, boards, and councils—more public access to information and better opportunities for further use
The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs has responsibility for keeping a record of central government committees, boards and councils. The record is available in a database that can be accessed from the Norwegian Government website, Regjeringen.no. The database contains information provided by the various ministries, and has no facilities for advanced searching.
Make the record of committees, boards and councils easier to use for the general public, public administration and research institutions.
KEY IMPACT BENCHMARK
Make the information available in the form of searchable files
In cooperation with the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs (Government Administration Services), the Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD) and the Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi) will prepare principles for technical solutions.
Responsible institution: Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs
Supporting institution(s): None
Start date: Unclear End date: 1 July, 2014
There currently exists no centralized source of information on who participates on municipal government boards and committees. The commitment aims to improve the functionality of a website (regjeringen.no, as referenced in the commitment text), maintained by the Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi), to make information on board and official committee membership in municipal governments easier to access. A prototype website has been developed based on recommendations from an independent consultant, though it is not clear whether any formal “principles” have played a role in this process.
Mid-term: Unable to tell from government and civil society responses
The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation (KMD) reports that work on this commitment began with a preparatory phase. It is not clear what activities this included, and the IRM researcher was not able to gather any additional information or to secure an interview with the contact point for this commitment.
The consultancy firm, Northern Beat, was contracted to produce a work plan for improving the functionality of the website and a website prototype, which was delivered in 2015. The work plan is on file with the IRM researcher, but not publically available. According to the IRM researcher’s examination of the work plan, it is clearly informed by the needs of journalists and researchers to access relevant information. According to the KMD focal points interviewed, this initiative was motivated by internal government dissatisfaction among government employees with their ability to access information local boards and councils. Desire for a better overview was voiced within KMD, and was not demanded or requested by any civil society or business groups.[Note 11: Tom Arne Nygaard and Terie Drystad, interview by Christopher Wilson, in-person interview, Offices of the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, September 31, 2016. ]
KMD’s focal point further stated that this report was welcomed by the Government Administration Services (DSS), who commissioned it and is responsible for implementing the changes to the website. The contract for that implementation is now under tender, according to the focal points in KMD.[Note 12: Ibid.] The IRM researcher understands the work plan to include “principles” referenced in the activity description of this commitment, but since the information is not yet publically available, the researcher assessed progress on the commitment to be limited.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Did not change
Improving access to information regarding individuals' participation on government committees, boards, and councils is a positive step in improving transparency. However, the website has not been built yet, and the IRM researcher cannot yet make a determination on whether or how it will change government practice. Some civil society actors have noted the potential value of this register for tracking political influence and financial relationships in Norwegian local governance.[Note 13: Information meeting on the second national action plan (June 13, 2013), interviews with Transparency International Norway (March 18, 2015) and Norwegian Press Association (September 1, 2016), notes on file with researcher. ] In addition, the Norwegian Press Association noted that while this initiative gathers existing information into a central electronic archive for public access, it does not compel the provision of such information, and registration of participation in many municipal boards and committees is still voluntary.[Note 14: Nils Øy (Special Adviser, Norwegian Press Association), interview by Christopher Wilson, in-person meeting, Offices of the Norwegian Association of the Press, September 1, 2016. ]
This commitment has not been carried forward in the Norwegian government’s third national action plan, which is available on the OGP website.[Note 15: ”Norway’s third action plan Open Government Partnership (OGP),” Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, accessed September 4, 2016, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Norway_2016-17_NAP.pdf.]