Moldova’s second Action Plan on Open Government – or what does 2014 bring to us?!

Moldova’s second Action Plan on Open Government – or what does 2014 bring to us?!

Moldovan Government is one of the first and few Governments from the 63 Governments members of Open Government Partnership (OGP), to approve already the second Action Plan on Open Government, which is, in case of Moldova, an Action Plan for the year 2014.

Note: Moldova joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011 and with this, committed to the principles and aspirations of an Open Government, by signing up the Open Government Declaration.

Moldova’s first Action Plan on Open Government, which was for years 2012-2013 http://lex.justice.md/index.php?action=view&view=doc&lang=1&id=342679, was a stand alone plan of action, with several commitments responding to the Grand Challenges of the Open Government Partnership.

The provisions of the first Action Plan for Open Government included:

  • Compulsory use of www.particip.gov.md platform for consultations on draft legislation
  • Publication in the electronic format of information on foreign assistance
  • Launch of online petitions portal
  • Development of an IT system for online filing of income statements by public officials and decision makers
  • Use of social networks for a more efficient communication with the citizens
  • Publication of local regulatory documents on www.actelocale.md
  • Transparency in the judicial system

While the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) is still to make the interim results of the independent evaluation public at the end of January 2014, and share the degree to which commitments for 2012-2013 were fulfilled or not by the Government of Moldova, a new Action Plan has been approved at the end of 2013 by the Government.

The new Action Plan is not a stand-alone plan this time, rather, part of a broader Action Plan for the Strategic Program for Technological Modernization of Governance (e-Transformation) implementation.

Only 13 commitments of the above mentioned Plan relate to Open Government measures/initiatives and fall under the first area of intervention: Promoting the Principles of Open Government through consolidating public integrity and ensuring a participatory decision making process: via citizen engagement and increasing transparency in the Governance processes. The approved priority measures also include: promoting the principles of Open Government by opening the governmental data as default and encouraging a participatory decision-making process through electronic communication platforms. Some key Open Data related commitments relate to:

– Developing and launching the new version (V3.0) of the www.date.gov.md (official open data portal of Moldova) by publishing data through API interface;

– Elaborating the Government Decision regarding the Concept for promoting open data principles;

– Evaluating the degree of use of governmental electronic mailing system/service (.gov.md) by Central Public Authorities;

– Elaborating the proposal for the Governmental Decision for approving the Bi-annual Action Plan (2014-2015) regarding the implementation and promotion of open data principles by Central Public Authorities;

– Adjusting the technological part of the www.actelocale.md platform;

– Elaborating the proposal for Governmental Decision regarding the approval of the Regulations on functionalities of the www.date.gov.md portal.

In addition to Open Data related commitments, other commitments include:

– Elaborating and implementing methodological norms on citizen consultation processes, adjusted to the OECD recommendations on “Citizens as partners” (2001), that will become applicable for all public authorities;

– Capacity building for public servants on open government and open data;

– Elaborating and approving the regulations regarding the use of the single access portal www.actelocale.md – in communication and interaction between State Chancellery and local public authorities; (note: “acte locale” stands for “local documents/acts/norms – in Moldova referring specifically to the local government structures/authorities);

– Annual audit of the web pages of central public authorities from the perspective of the Governmental Order nr. 188 from April 3, 2012 “Regarding official web pages of the public authorities in the Internet”;

– Assessing the legal, institutional and technical frameworks as the basis for implementation of online petitions platform;

– Capacity building of public servants on citizen engagement in decision-making processes via the use of online communication tools;

– Extending and developing the www.particip.gov.md platform, more specifically its “Acts/Documents in consultation process” through developing and implementing the ‘project evolution trajectory’ function for each consulted public policy document (law, strategy, etc) starting from providing access to the first version of the document, additional supporting documents, synthesis of recommendations and feedback, approved final version, and link to www.lex.justice.md.

The full version of the Action Plan in Romanian language is available from http://www.gov.md/public/files/ordinea_de_zi/26.12.2013/Intr12.pdf

With all these, I am happy to share that in the process of elaboration of this second Action Plan, there was a much more active engagement of civil society, through the civil society working group on E-Government/Open Government which is part of National Participation Council (coordinated by the Open Government Institute). Members of the working group were involved not only during the consultations, but provided input for the draft of the Action Plan itself.

Co-creating the Action Plan together with input from civil society was indeed a positive experience, however, there were higher expectations from the civil society on the engagement of all Central Public Authorities in generating sectorial commitments for the plan … meaning, each Ministry could have had its internal consultations on its priorities for 2014 and identify some of them which could have become more ambitious and having Open Government principles and values at the core of them!

I was writing back in 2013 about how would this process look in practical terms http://blog.opengovpartnership.org/2013/08/personal-reflections-on-the-value-of-the-small-changes-emerging-from-open-government/, however, these proposed stages were not implemented as thought, given several challenges (among which lack of capacities among Central Public Authorities and Civil society organizations to re-think sector based priorities from the Open Government perspective).

I believe that even the proposed approach was, in a way, much more ambitious that we could deliver …

At the end of this process we have an Action Plan that does reflect our current status, context and realities in terms of our readiness to adopt Open Government related commitments (both at Gov and CSO level).  However, I continue wondering about a number of issues and aspects still, and hope that countries’ experiences in drafting their Second Action Plans (especially from Cohort 2 http://www.opengovpartnership.org/countries) will provide some insight into my questions:   

Whether or not an Action Plan on Open Government should be a stand-alone plan or part of the broader Action Plan (as it is in case of our second Action Plan)? There is no evidence still to prove which practice generates better results, and Moldova might be in a privileged situation given that it has now both approaches: 1st Action Plan is a stand-alone one, while the 2nd one is not. Hope more clarity on this will be with the help of the Independent Reporting Mechanism;

What is more important for an Action Plan on Open Government:

  • number of commitments – then, what is a reasonable number?
  • quality of commitments and how to measure them?
  • ambitiousness of the commitments – and then, how should we define ambition in our Moldovan context?

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