E-Engagement Portal (SYC0004)
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
In order to submit a concern to relevant authorities, one has to go through a series of bureaucratic procedures before it can finally reach a high-level official. The time lapse and undue intervention often creates discouragement and a feeling of helplessness among the public. Currently, there exists a Government website (E-gov) which provides links to all the ministries and departments. Also, most of the Government sectors have a dedicated website on which information can be shared and queries taken up via email/ dialogue boxes. However, despite the existence of these features, public concerns are rarely addressed and this render citizens frustrated and distrustful of Government institutions. Given the current situation, the public have turned to social media platforms to air their concerns regarding deficiencies in service deliveries (both public and private), corruption, Government reforms, policies and legislative decisions, environmental pollution, social injustice, moral decline, effectiveness of the justice system, etc.
The approach being taken by citizens does reach the attention of the Government, especially on matters that warrant a public outcry (or are sensational in nature), or where politicians get involve to pressure the Government. However, despite the fact that the right to freedom of expression is being exercised in absentia of restraints, the avenues currently being undertaken do not necessarily facilitate immediate action on the part of the Government as they are taking place in a setting which is informal. This is especially true for matters which involve change in legislature and policies. A concrete example which can be used in this case is that of the office of the Registrar of Associations. Incidents of malpractice/corruption occurring in the different federations/associations are being brought to social media and not to the Office of the Registrar. As per the law, the Registrar cannot act on the matter unless a formal complaint is brought to her attention in order to open an investigation.
Also, for the purpose of data collection and statistics, information received from social media alone can come in an unstructured form (cannot be taken up/ translated by IT systems) which can affect its usability. Moreover, the data belongs to the respective social media platforms and often, feedback received through these media can only be accessed through public discussions. This implies that discussions (citizens’ concerns) taking place in private cannot be taken into account. In addition to that a lot of people are wary of commenting on social media for fear of discrimination/victimization.
What is the commitment?
The Commitment entails the implementation of technology with relevance to public participation. Its main objectives include:
• Providing citizens with a formal space to voice their opinions/ concerns on national issues.
• Giving citizens a participatory role in Government decision making.
• Making the Government more aware of the concerns of the citizens.
• Making citizens more aware of the work of the Government and rendering the Government more accountable towards the people.
It is expected that from this commitment there will be more of effective collaboration between Government, the parliament and civil society in the interest of the public and country as a whole.
Embedded in the E-Engagement Portal will be a link to the online performance monitoring and evaluation dashboard of the Government. This online dashboard will provide a view of how every Government MDA involved in the implementation of RBM (Results Based Management) is performing against targets set and KPIs used. This will provide for a fully transparent view of how every MDA are performing with respect to their delivery and thereby a full view of how Government is performing in terms of the delivery of its operations. It will be a tool for tracking progress and supporting decision making. With this level of visibility of Government performance, the public should become more informed and participate more substantively in the national governance process.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
The commitment will be implemented through multi sectoral collaboration/ consultation whereby the principal responsibility of ensuring the set-up and running of the platform will be done by the Department of Information Communication Technology (DICT). The platform for civil society (CEPS) can engage in a monitoring/ performance watch dog role to ensure that citizen concerns are not being neglected and that the space is not being misused to limit freedom of expression, as well as guarantee the anonymity and protection of the personal details of citizens who interact with the platform. First, consultation will have to take place between civil society and the relevant Government stakeholders. This will be followed by the set-up of a trial version of the platform to test its popularity/ ease of use with the public. Aggressive campaigns will be done through the media along with education of the public on the purpose of the platform and why public participation is so crucial. Success stories (if any) can be used and from there an assessment of the trial can be done prior to the actual set-up of the portal. An app can be developed in addition to the portal along with the use of toll free telecom and whatsapp group so as to attract and facilitate user participation. The portal will also have a system in place where information can be fed from social media platforms. The commitment will solve the public problem by providing the people with a platform where they will have the opportunity to participate in national decisions, surveys, elections and freely exercise their democratic rights and also have them taken up directly by the relevant Government agencies. Government practice may change by becoming more open and accepting of public opinions. It will also help improve service delivery in the public sector as well as enhance the performance of the communication and information officers present in every department.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
The commitment is relevant to transparency because it will enable frank online discussions and exchange of information. Moreover, there will be a link with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which acts as a data repository whereby information can be retrieved for the purpose of reference, research etc. The commitment is relevant to civic participation as it will be a platform made for the public. Moreover, through meetings, the public will have the chance to provide inputs on how they want the platform to function and how best it can be used as a tool for public service. The online stage will be a formal space where the Government can act on the issues brought forth by the public and also answer certain queries that the people may have. In this line, Government becomes accountable to the public.
The commitments in the NAP are in line with Seychelles’ Vision 2033 and the first National Development Strategy (NDS). Implementation of the Commitment will be monitored by the RBM Committee.
Public Participation in the Budget
SYC0001, 2019, Capacity Building
Implementation of the Access to Information Act
SYC0002, 2019, Access to Information
Implementation of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI)
SYC0003, 2019, Anti-Corruption
SYC0004, 2019, E-Government