On November 15, 2014 Open Government Institute was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration to conduct a workshop on Open Government & Transparency in Decision-Making processes for more than 60 representatives of the public sector, many of whom are directly responsible for the implementation of transparency in decision making and citizen engagement as part of the Ministry they work at. Public servants had the opportunity to share details about the implementation of the transparency related processes in ministries or other public authorities.
Veronica Cretu, President of the Open Government Institute, who moderated the workshop, challenged participants to think about a number of issues and encouraged them to share about ways public servants are currently implementing the provisions of the legal framework related to transparency in decision making and citizen engagement.
Veronica also shared with participants the main principles adopted by Moldova once joining the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and what is OGP all about.
When it comes to practices implemented by the Ministries/Central Public Authorities, the following have been shared:
- Press conferences announcing launching of a decision making process;
- Consultative Groups;
- Thematic councils;
- Debate forums;
- Opinion polls;
- Hot lines;
- Working Groups
Participants added that more work could be done to promote the consultation platform of the State Chancellery www.particip.gov.md. There should be more efforts put in place to strengthen the inter-institutional cooperation between CPAs and CSOs, particularly with the National Participation Council. Participants also mentioned that it is important for CPAs to implement more video promotional materials which would encourage citizens to get more actively engaged in meaningful debate around different issues of their interest.
Among the key difficulties mentioned by participants in terms of practical implementation of the provisions of the existent legal framework on transparency in decision making process the following have been enumerated:
- Resources are always an issue when it comes to organizing round table meetings, debates and other initiatives related to consultations and so realistic estimation of the costs is a challenge indeed;
- Political or high level commitment for transparency and citizen engagement agenda;
- Respecting/following strictly the deadlines for consultations, etc;
- CPAs are not good at utilizing and referring to already existent reports, studies, analyses produced on the issues addressed, and waste time and resources producing new ones;
- Ex-ante evaluation of the public policies is still weak;
- Lack of citizens’ engagement in policy making, in providing feedback and comments;
- Weak engagement of CSOs in decision making processes. Often, there are the same usual ‘suspects’ involved and this does not lead to generating new input into the processes;
- There is a weak understanding of the broader concept of Open Government and lack of a common vision on this issue leads to low engagement of CPAs in the Open Government Agenda.
One of the challenges lies in the fact, as it has been articulated during the event, that the mandate of CPAs is not Communication per ce. Even if the role of the public institutions is policy elaboration and implementation, any public authority has to be able to clearly communicate with its target beneficiaries and get their input. So consultations and citizen engagement is a mandatory part of CPAs agenda, and it is important that this vision is shared across the public sector and all public servants.