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Norway

Simplification and Digital Administration of Arrangements for NGOs (NO0044)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Norway Action Plan 2013-2015

Action Plan Cycle: 2013

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Culture

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Civic Space, E-Government, Freedom of Association

IRM Review

IRM Report: Norway End-of-Term Report 2014-2015, Norway Second IRM Progress Report 2013-2014

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

NGOs are independent players in civil society. At the same time, Norway has a long
tradition for close interaction between the voluntary sector and the public authorities in
a number of different areas. In order to promote greater predictability and a common
understanding in the interaction and dialogue between the authorities and the NGOs, a
declaration of principles is to be prepared. The declaration of principles is to include the
role of the NGOs in Norwegian society and the special characteristics of voluntary
work. The declaration of principles will be based on the fundamental principles laid
down in the Council of Europe’s “Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the
Decision-Making Process” prepared by international NGOs
The Ministry of Culture will make efforts to ensure that the requirements regarding
applications and reporting for voluntary organizations are simplified where
appropriate, that information concerning state grant schemes is easily available and
that, in the long term, more schemes are linked to the Register of Non-Profit
Organizations.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

9. Simplification and digital administration of arrangements for NGOs

Commitment Text:

[…]

COMMITMENT DESCRIPTION
The Ministry of Culture will make efforts to ensure that the requirements regarding applications and reporting for voluntary organizations are simplified where appropriate, that information concerning state grant schemes is easily available and that, in the long term, more schemes are linked to the Register of Non-Profit Organizations.

KEY IMPACT BENCHMARK
More support schemes for voluntary organizations are, in the long term, to be linked to the Register of Non-Profit Organizations.

Responsible institution: Ministry of Culture

Supporting institution(s): None

Start date: 1 January , 2013              End date: 31 December, 2015

Editorial note: The text of the commitments was abridged for formatting reasons. For the full text of the commitment, please see http://bit.ly/1QlVIja.

Policy Aim

As in most countries where civil society organizations receive grant funding from governments, processes and paperwork surrounding applications and reporting for such funding can be cumbersome. In December 2013, the Association of NGOs in Norway (Frivillighet Norge), issued 11 demands for simplification in the relations between Norwegian government and civil society.[Note 52: ”Frivillighet Norges elleve krav til forenkling og avbyråkratisering,” Frivillighet Norge, December 6, 2013, accessed September 9, 2016, http://bit.ly/L6ph8Y. ] Nevertheless, the civil society representatives consulted for this report indicated that cumbersome paperwork and bureaucratic processes were less problematic for Norwegian government funding than other government funding.[Note 53: Stian Slotterøy Johnsen (General Secretary, Norwegian Association of Voluntary Organizations), interview by Christopher Wilson, phone interview, September 13, 2016;  Joachim Nahem (Director of Financial Politics, IKT-Norway), interview by Christopher Wilson, in-person meeting, Offices of the International Law and Policy Institute, March 23, 2016; and Liv Freihow (Executive Director, Transparency International Norway), interview by Christopher Wilson, in-person meeting, Offices of the International Law and Policy Institute, March 12, 2016.] Nonetheless, this commitment aims to simplify grant scheme procedures for civil society organizations (CSOs) to apply for government financial resources by pulling information automatically from the national registry in which all Norwegian CSOs are registered. This procedure makes it unnecessary for CSOs to re-enter the same information each time they submit a grant application.

Status

Mid-term: Substantial
The Ministry of Culture reported that it published an overview of grant schemes for volunteer organizations and a guide for how to improve grant schemes for child- and youth-focused organizations. The ministry encouraged all government agencies to review their processes for civil society support in order to identify opportunities for simplification.

End-of-term: Substantial
The Ministry of Culture published the results from its review processes
in a government report in May 2016.[Note 54: “Enklere tilskuddsordninger for frivillige organisasjoner,” Ministry of Culture, updated May 26, 2016, accessed September 4, 2016, http://bit.ly/1DnGbtv. ] Though the ministry published this report after the action plan implementation period, its contents suggest that broad efforts were underway to identify simplification opportunities during the implementation period. These efforts included nearly 30 initiatives across nine government agencies. Of these, details are available for 16 of the initiatives, which tend to be articulated in general language about reviewing frameworks, without measurable outputs, and with few direct linkages to the national registry, as described in this commitment.[Note 55: Ibid. ]

Ministry focal points for this commitment describe a close collaboration between the ministry, the National Council for Youth and Children’s Organizations (Landsrådet for Noregs barne- og ungdomsorganisasjoner), the Norwegian Association of Civil Society Organizations, and the Norwegian Confederation of Sports (Norges idrettsforbund og olympiske og paralympiske komité).This collaboration prioritized work to integrate individual civil society registries with the national registry of volunteer organizations. This led to simplified reporting processes on the national registry,[Note 56: “Forenklet skjema for foreninger,” Brønnøysundregisteret, accessed September 9, 2016, https://www.brreg.no/produkter-og-tjenester/skjemakatalog/skjema-for-foreninger/. ] though integration work is ongoing.  As such, this commitment is understood to have made substantial progress to completion.

Did it open government?       

Access to information: Did not change

As implemented, the commitment did not change government practice in either the quantity or quality of information disclosed to civil society. The processes targeted by this commitment largely impact the activities and allocation of resources to CSOs and only indirectly impact the interaction of civil society and government. Interviews with Norwegian CSO representatives indicate that CSO actors do not see application and reporting processes to be particularly problematic in the first place, or to impact open government in other ways. [Note 57: Stian Slotterøy Johnsen (General Secretary, Norwegian Association of Voluntary Organizations), interview by Christopher Wilson, phone interview, September 13, 2016;  Joachim Nahem (Director of Financial Politics, IKT-Norway), interview by Christopher Wilson, in-person meeting, Offices of the International Law and Policy Institute, March 23, 2016; and Liv Freihow (Executive Director, Transparency International Norway), interview by Christopher Wilson, in-person meeting, Offices of the International Law and Policy Institute, March 12, 2016.] Norwegian civil society representatives note that the most important improvement to their relationships with government would be a prioritization of core and restricted funding rather than project funding. This prioritization would allow NGOs to perform a watchdog role that is necessary for democratic and open societies, but increasingly difficult in times of austerity and with project-specific funding. Though the government has indicated a willingness to move in this direction in meetings with civil society, no specific actions have been taken. Civil society actors describe the activities in this commitment as an important start to improving and simplifying administrative processes.[Note 58: “God start på et viktig arbeid,” Frivillighet Norge, November 4, 2014, accessed September 9, 2016, http://bit.ly/1ztIQOH. ]

Carried forward?

This commitment has not been carried forward in the Norwegian government’s third national action plan, which is available on the OGP website.[Note 59: ”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.]


Commitments

Open Government Partnership