Faces of Open Government – Igor Vidacak
In this section of the OGP newsletter, we feature open government champions both from government and civil society, and ask them about their OGP experiences. Here is what they have to say:
How does open government make a difference in peoples lives?
Unresponsive government can often make people feel like they are hamsters on a wheel…constantly in search for high quality information or service, but never seeing any progress. Opening government is really about empowering citizens, investing in public trust and allowing the wisdom of society to drive the government agenda.
Describe one OGP commitment from your country that you are proud of.
I am really proud about our efforts to make civil society engagement in public policy making more meaningful. We have substantially improved responsiveness of our Government to citizens inputs, which resulted in 4875% increase in number of citizens’ comments on new legislative initiatives in just 3 years. By opening more public consultations (from 30 in 2010 to 374 in 2013) and significantly improving the quality of reports on results of consultations (with detailed elaboration on why certain comments were not accepted), we have witnessed continuous growth of citizens interest in taking part in public consultations in various policy areas (from 171 written contributions on new legal acts in 2010 to 8299 in 2013).
How have you benefited from exchanging ideas with civil society?
The Croatian Government has co-drafted two national OGP action plans in close collaboration and partnership with civil society. Our OGP commitments would be certainly less ambitious without continuous pressure and numerous innovative ideas coming from a wide variety of of active citizens, volunteers and professionals from CSOs around the country.
How are you working to overcome challenges in opening up government in your country?
Transforming mindsets and influencing behavior change in public administration takes time and requires systematic collaborative effort from enthusiastic public sector leaders and civil society activists. Opening up government means constant investment in capacity building of civil servants and CSOs. In my view, it is essential to keep creating new opportunities for Government-CSO through offline and online dialogue. It is through constant exposure to different views and perspectives that prejudices and preconceived notions disappear.
Igor Vidacak – Director of the Croatian Government Office for Cooperation with NGO’s and incoming OGP Steering Committee Member