Euskadi or the knowledge that used to get lost in between the seams

We are making it! In the Basque Country (or Euskadi in Basque), we are implementing an action plan at different institutional levels. It’s not easy. More than a local government, we are a group of institutions with various degrees of expertise in openness that decided to align their work. We share responsibilities and we co-lead working groups.

Euskadi is a small territory. Life and citizen participation in policy occurs across institutional limits. There are three institutional levels (Basque Government, Provincial Councils of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa and the Municipalities of Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Donostia-San Sebastian), with decentralized and, sometimes, shared domains.

Open territories should develop a shared open government model, ensuring that opportunities for participation and collaboration are equal for all the citizens of Euskadi. Through an associative network and with citizens participating on their own behalf, we co-created over 40 potential commitments for the action plan.

Following the establishment of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum, it was necessary to create an even playing field for the action plan, in other words, the foundation for future open governance efforts. Thus, the list of 40 commitments was distilled to 5 commitments.

But the citizens still had legitimate questions: Where will we implement the pilot projects? How will we maintain participation among the commitment groups in such a small territory? What effect will potential political changes have during the implementation of the plan?

These legitimate questions are starting to be resolved through the work of commitment groups:

  1. Accountability through mandate plans. This is about identifying a document, such as Government Programs or Mandate Plans, to allow for the presentation of a list of political commitments and initiatives across the Basque institutions in order to facilitate citizen audits.
  2. Open & Linked Data. Contribute to open knowledge, opening up public data and creating services that create wealth, knowledge and include the citizenry. Create structures that contribute to the homologation of datasets across institutions.
  3. Ilab. Innovation lab for citizen participation to learn from OGP experiences and continue to test and share progress in identifying solutions to engage citizens more actively in public management.  
  4. Open Eskola, open school for citizens. These will set a reference model for different territorial levels to educate increasingly responsible citizens and create learning materials for collaboration, co-creation and co-management skills for public value.
  5. Basque Integrity System to create the minimum requirements for managers to identify the values that identify our people and the tools and institutions to eliminate unethical behavior, not only among positions but also among providers, civil servants, entities that receive grants, etc.

Complex aspirations require strong institutional leadership, collaboration and a long-term process. We are very excited because we are learning to value peer exchanges. We value, together with the citizenry, all the knowledge that used to get lost between the seams.

Authors: Luis Petrikorena