In October 2014 OGP-executive officers from the public administration in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden met in Berlin. The main purpose was to discuss and exchange experiences about OGP Actions Plans. In addition we wanted to learn more about the cooperation between public administration and civil society in the four countries.
The Danish Action Plan has emphasized open data, transparency and citizens’ engagement in decision-making processes. It has also led to the creation of open camps, where questions concerning openness and participation have been discussed.
In Finland, the Action Plan has concentrated on open government, plain language, information access and public administration as an enabler. There have been discussion groups between public administration together with the Finish association of municipalities and the civil society.
Norway finalized its second Action Plan in 2013 with altogether 26 commitments ranging from electronic public records, re-use of public sector information to access to health data, Norwegian grants portal and transparency in the management of oil and gas revenues. Norway has also participated in the OGP Steering Committee from 2011 until October 2014.
Sweden focuses on e-Government and access to information in three main areas: citizen-oriented public sector development, re-use of public administration documents and aid transparency. The focus is to work with OGP commitments in an integrated manner in the subject fields and overarching processes.
Although this process is quite informal, Denmark, Norway and Sweden (and possibly Finland) are about to cooperate together on an operational level in order to promote open data. The countries are planning to simultaneously arrange hackathons/data events in their respective terriotries this coming July.
The experience among the Nordic countries is rather similar: OGP has contributed to an increased understanding for the importance of openness. Still the public administrations in all the Nordic countries find it a challenge to make civil society sufficiently involved in questions concerning OGP. Norway is about to launch an OGP-council. This will be a link between public administration and civil society but probably most important: a means to use when developing and implementing OGP action plans.
The Nordic countries decided to cooperate further, for example by sharing information about their national OGP work. Themes of particular interest here could be: plain language and openness around foreign aid and the exploration of natural resources.
Author: Tom Arne Nygaard (Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, Norway)
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons