Let’s co-create: many (and diverse) heads are better than one

Since Colombia joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011, there has been a sustained interest in strengthening transparency, accountability, citizen participation ,and the use of new technology – all main pillars of OGP. Over the years, and through the co-creation and implementation of two successful Action Plans, we can say that our efforts have paid off. In fact, we are very proud of our second Action Plan - the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) has acknowledged it as the only country to obtain eight starred commitments in one single plan. In the coming years, we must keep up with this trend. That is why, for our third Action Plan, we are taking to heart one of the open government principles: collaboration.

The third Action Plan builds on the challenges identified by the Monitoring Committee of the second Action Plan and on the IRM’s recommendations. Thus, we identified two main needs: to broaden citizen participation to academic and private sector stakeholders, and to consolidate the initiative at the subnational level.

The Action Plan, as coordinated by the Secretariat for Transparency of the Presidency of Colombia, identified forty-eight public agencies to include in the creative and collaborative co-creation process.

We hosted forty-one working groups with representatives from different sectors (national government, academia, private sector, and civil society) to identify open government challenges, as well as strategic action lines to develop the Action Plan. The participation and collaboration of many stakeholders was shown throughout seven technical sessions where commitment proposals were identified, videoconferences that guided interested entities in the development of proposals, and reflection to sustainable technical proposals. The selection of final commitments was also participatory, as we launched a consultation process in which over two million users participated.

The outcome: twenty-six ambitious commitments, adapted to different contexts and, most importantly, the engagement of new stakeholders in an unprecedented participatory process: twelve agencies of the executive branch, one agency from the judiciary, one from the legislature, one control body, one defense agency, and six subnational governments. This effort was formalized in the signing of the Declaration for Open State, signed by the heads of the three government branches and control bodies.

This process would not have been possible without the expertise and drive of the many stakeholders who participated in the co-creation process. In the end, collaboration has one aim: guarantee the relevance, adoption, and impact of commitments from the start. They say that two heads are better than one but why only two? I believe that many heads from various contexts, focusing on one single goal, can change realities and, eventually, the world.