Faces of Open Government – Tamara Puhovski
In this section of the OGP newsletter, we feature individuals from government and civil society, and ask them about their experiences. Here is what Tamara Puhovski (Office of the Deputy Foreign Minister and coordinator of the Open Government Partnership in Croatia) had to say:
How does open government make a difference in peoples lives?
OGP is like a superhero, it does very complicated things to bring about very simple solutions to everyday problems. It ensures that the Governments and the societies people live in are not lagging behind in bringing about 21st century quality of life, democracy and decision-making. It empowers people.
How have you benefited from exchanging ideas with civil society?
To paraphrase the OGP slogan, great ideas come from the civil society. Personally I can say that the civil society organisations I have worked with have helped me be at the same time more ambitious and more realistic and have been and endless source of motivation and creative solutions that I rely on. Also they have ensured I receive a couple of crash courses on topics such as IT technology, legislation in the area of access to information and fiscal transparency. But probably what I appreciate the most is the sense of community and support for common good that we have developed the mutual support for shared values and ambitions for Croatia’s future. It’s not us and them anymore, it’s the OGP and the non-OGP, Or rather “not yet OGP” people. In short, if you are working in public sector and you feel alone you probably need OGP and civil society partners. We often disagree on the speed or the methodology of going after OGP goals but the sentiment behind it and the common ambition that we have for the future of this society is something I at the same time immensely treasure and try to never take for granted. To be perfectly honest once you realise how it enriches the process of policy-making you will want the CS as partners on other things you do as well.
Describe one OGP commitment from your country that you are proud of.
Just one? I’m proud of all of them, because I know the complex process we went through to discuss them and choose them and plan them and finally implement them. I know we didn’t settle for what we thought could be achieved but went a little bit further each time. I’m especially proud of our Information Commissioner and the way that office was established and how it has created an institution for safeguarding and advocating the right to information, I’m immensely proud of our system of e-consultations and the fact that now legislation cannot be put in front of the Government of Croatia without a report on public consultations. I’m very proud of all our online services we offer our citizens, I’m proud of how fiercely we are working on open data and I’m proud of the way we have included youth in our efforts to make this a sustainable revolutionary effort.
How are you working to overcome challenges in opening up government in your country?
By closely following the NAP as an important contract between the civil society and the Government and by practising my “I see, but what if we….” sentence. By, due to budgetary restrictions, relying on social capital and mutually fostered motivation within the OGP Council as the “deus ex machine” for the problems and challenges in OGP implementation. By trying to acknowledge everybody’s priorities, and set a plan of how we can tackle it even if it is too soon to do it right now. By always emphasising the importance of education and youth. And by hoping that every challenge we have had has made us better at OGP and has strengthening the relationships and trust between the stakeholders of the process. But I am, as most OGP people, an incurable optimist and enthusiast!