Table of Contents

  • How can we better listen to citizens and businesses to improve public policies and services for inclusive growth? How can we develop policies for inclusive growth across the whole of government and choose the best policy instruments? How do we improve the delivery of services for and with citizens? How do we know when inclusive growth policies actually work?

  • Pursuing inclusive growth involves identifying policies that can improve a population’s living standards while more evenly sharing the benefits of increased prosperity among social groups. In a context of widening world inequalities, policy makers in advanced, emerging market and developing economies are examining the potential of inclusive growth policies to kick-start growth by turning equity into a driver of economic performance.

  • Over the last thirty years, public sector reforms have focused on making government more responsible and accountable for results. More recently, and particularly following the economic and financial crisis, governments are also coping with questions of legitimacy, where levels of confidence in public institutions are clear indicators of challenges and the perception of the capacity of the public sector to solve problems (or not) is under pressure. Further to the crisis many public sectors took on expanded responsibilities, with governments often having to deal with the cost of financial failures. Exclusion and increasing gaps within societies for access to services and policies such as the labour market, justice, health, and education are also putting pressure on governments to deliver inclusive outcomes. Increased unemployment, particularly among younger generations in a number of countries, has created a debate on who benefits from growth. The realisation that, in some countries, the benefits of growth may have been captured by the very few – with little general improvement in overall living standards – is focusing government attention on delivering inclusive growth (OECD, 2015a).

  • In the Australian public sector, there are persistent reform themes driven by the enduring need to adapt to technological, social and demographic change against a backdrop of shifting global, including economic, circumstances.

  • At the federal level, the Austrian government launched a comprehensive budgeting and public sector management reform in 2013. The reform introduced performance-oriented budgeting and a system of regulatory impact assessments in order to initiate a cultural change process with the goals of increasing efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery and leading to more transparent processes throughout the public administration. The reform has since initiated further public debate about performance targets, which has led to a number of further large-scale reform initiatives.

  • In July 2015, the federal Council of Ministers gave the green light for an ambitious open data federal strategy. This new strategy mandates that all public data become open and free to use by anyone interested. Proposed by the Minister of the Digital Agenda and Telecoms and the Secretary of State for Administrative Simplification, the strategy is an important step towards reinforcing the digital ecosystem in Belgium and the evolution towards a leaner, efficient and modern administration.

  • Government of Canada has recently made a number of important commitments on open government and transparency. Budget 2016 highlights that “Open and transparent government is good government. It strengthens trust in our democracy, and ensures the integrity of our public institutions.” As well, all ministerial mandate letters, made public in November 2015, note that “It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. Government and its information should be open by default.”

  • In 2011 Law N° 20.500 was enacted, introducing several modifications to the Organic Law of the General Basis for State Administration. Among other things, article 32 made public participation and consultation compulsory, setting general criteria and establishing permanent bodies within the administration to ensure its compliance.

  • In recent years, various legal and institutional reforms have been conducted by the Government of Colombia in order to strengthen the relationship between the government and citizens to promote active participation of stakeholders and civil society in the decision-making processes.

  • The Government of Costa Rica has developed some initiatives that put citizens and businesses in the centre of the government actions.

  • Recently, a number of initiatives have been taken by different subnational government administrations to explore new ways to engage citizens and businesses in decision-making. For instance, “The Good life” project, implemented by the Municipality of Ballerup, explored new ways of collaborating directly with citizens in realising their dreams. The Municipality launched a survey to understand what citizens of Ballerup dream of, what drives them in their pursuit of their dreams, and what may constitute obstacles to the realization of their life aspirations and dreams. The survey formed the basis for co-creation processes where municipality staff and citizens meet in order to develop new ideas together and rethink the way in which the municipality performs its tasks. This co-creation process is ongoing in line with the project progress.

  • At the national level, The People's Assembly (in Estonian: “Rahvakogu”) was established as an online platform for crowd-sourcing ideas and proposals to amend Estonia’s electoral laws, political party law, and other issues related to the future of democracy in Estonia. The Assembly combines modern communication tools with traditional face-to-face discussions. During the first stage, which operated until the end of January 2013, proposals and comments were submitted, commented, supported or criticised online.

  • In May 2015, the Commission adopted its “Better Regulation Package”, outlining measures to deliver better rules for better results. The measures aim to prepare policies inclusively, based on full transparency and engagement, including by consulting more and listening better to the views of those affected by legislation.

  • Recently, the Ministry of Justice upgraded the 15-year old consultation portal and transformed it to demokratia.fi. Originally known as otakantaa.fi, the new portal includes five e-tools for participation, which provide citizens with different ways to participate at the various stages of the decision-making process.

  • The Secretariat-General for Government Modernisation (SGMAP), in the Prime Minister’s Office, promotes public policies that are based on the expectations of citizens and users. Several tools have been developed to consult with citizens in order to determine where administrative complexity exists, map user journeys, observe users and analyse the drivers of satisfaction with government services.

  • On 28 March 2012, the Federal Cabinet decided that draft bills of the Federal Government will be published online after they have been adopted by the Federal Cabinet and that, wherever suitable, the Federal Government intends to engage in broader public information or consultation prior to a Cabinet decision than is presently the case, with involvement of groups directly affected by the intended legislation. On 4 June 2014, the Federal Cabinet decided that the Federal Government will in future take even greater account of the experience of those affected when it develops new legislative proposals. According to the decision of the Federal Cabinet of 4 June 2014, the Federal Government frequently performs statistically representative surveys on the perception of the quality of the co-operation of citizens and the business sector with the public administration and the quality of the given legal framework. The website of the Federal Government initiative “amtlich einfach” contains additional feedback functionalities for the public on specific life events, the legal framework, and the performance of the public and state administrations.

  • Over the last six years, the Greek Government has established four major open and participatory government initiatives to better engage with citizens and businesses and to serve the principles of transparency, collaboration and accountability.

  • The Hungarian Government has implemented regulations to ensure that citizens and businesses can participate in the decision-making process. The participation framework for citizens as well as other social and entrepreneurial representative bodies is regulated by the Act CXXXI of 2010, which addresses social participation during the preparation of legal regulation. Under this Act, citizens and businesses are provided the opportunity to comment the draft laws and concepts.

  • The Icelandic government is constantly working on ways to better liaise with citizens and business. For example, the Iceland Growth Forum was established in January 2013 by the Prime Minister´s Office following a report on growth prospects for the Icelandic economy. The main message of the report highlighted the lack of productivity in the domestic sector.

  • Ireland has implemented a number of initiatives aimed at better engaging with citizens and stakeholders in the policy process. In July 2014, Ireland became a full member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) on publication of its first OGP National Action Plan. Prior to this, a two day OGP Europe Regional Conference was held in Dublin in May 2014, which brought officials and civil society together to discuss many topical issues and policies. A draft version of the OGP plan was published for public comment during the event.

  • In the past year, the Israeli government has led an extensive public engagement process as part of the effort to create a national plan for a better integration of Israelis of Ethiopian origin in society. The engagement process was held through a variety of platforms, such as meetings with citizens in neighbourhoods and roundtables led by different ministries involving social organisations, experts and citizens. All policy documents that followed the engagement process were uploaded to an Internet platform for the public to review and comment. Through this platform, 22 000 people viewed the documents and 1 500 comments were received.

  • Since 2014, the Italian Government has adopted a number of relevant measures, both legislative and non-legislative, aimed at modernising the public administration. For example, the recent Delegation to the Government for Public Administrations’ Re-Organisation Law (“Delegation Law”, no. 124 of 7 August 2015), among other, contains provisions to improve the implementation of open government policies. These provisions are at the core of the Charter of Digital Citizenship, which aims to promote and develop digital citizenship rights for citizens and businesses, such as web-based participation in public decision making, more direct control on public administrations (open data), together with improved access to digital services in line with the need to speed up the implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

  • The Japanese Government regularly consults with citizens. Each year, an online survey on government policy is conducted. The survey obtained 600 responses from citizens and released the results online for the public to view. In addition, starting last year, the Cabinet Public Relations Secretary consults with about 20 citizens selected from the respondents of the survey to facilitate a candid and direct discussion between the officials and the citizens.

  • The Government of the Republic of Korea has continued to work on strengthening its legal and institutional foundation to foster participatory decisionmaking. For example, in March 2015, the Government revised the Administrative Procedure Act, which serves as the framework act concerning civic participation. The revision of the Act established a legal foundation for web- and mobile-based policy debates, taking into consideration the emerging communication channels (web or smartphones) which are characterised by their nature of two-way and real-time communication. Web- and mobile-based policy debates were adopted during the previous administration (between 2003 and 2007), but they did not have any legal foundation back then.

  • In 2013, the Latvian Government launched a suite of reforms that seek to improve citizen engagement, public service quality management and improve regulations by involving the public in reducing administrative burden and improving public services in Latvia. The reform package, called “Let’s Share the Burden Together!” first established an easy-to-use website created to submit ideas to reduce administrative burden or improve public services. The proposals are reviewed every week by the State Chancellery. It is then forwarded for evaluation to the ministry responsible for the issue and the submitter is informed on the progress of their proposal. The results of this campaign are reported to the Prime minister twice per year during Cabinet of Ministers meetings.

  • The Government of Lithuania recognises the strategic importance of civic engagement in policy making and service delivery. As such, the priority activities of the Government and its current public administration reform strategies focus on efficiency, openness, quality, strategic thinking and digitisation of public administration.

  • Recently, the Luxembourg Government implemented four reforms to involve citizens and service users in the design, delivery and evaluation of public services, including the use of ICT and social media. First, in 2014, the Ministry for Civil Service and Administrative Reform launched a website called “vosidees.lu” (in English: “your ideas”) with the aim of collect ideas, suggestions, comments and criticisms concerning administrative procedures, service delivery matters and, more generally, ideas for administrative reform.

  • In 2015, continuing the policy of Civic Participation in Government Decision Making, 107 Exercises of Civic Participation took place. These exercises addressed 138 substantive topics under the responsibility of departments and agencies of the Government of Mexico. Through these exercises, 2 275 representatives of society were consulted and they contributed with 1 113 proposals to improve public policies of their interest. As in 2014, the citizens' proposals were answered through the websites of the respective institutions (found under the Transparency/Citizen Participation section).

  • The Government of Netherlands believes that establishing a better connection with citizens is one of the necessary dimensions of modernisation. This requires that the state develops an information society that is characterised by less hierarchical relations between government and citizens. Society is becoming a network in which citizens increasingly take initiative and the government is one of the actors in this network. Citizens want a say in public policy making and government should connect to initiatives in society. Therefore, a more equal information system for citizens is crucial. Since government is an important supplier and user of information, new policies regarding openness, transparency and interaction are needed.

  • The New Zealand Government is using outreach and participatory work in an attempt to engender a more inclusive, customer-centric approach to service delivery and design. In this field, the Government developed the Result 10 Blueprint to enable government agencies to align their digital initiatives and to take a joined-up, citizen and customer-centred approach to the services provided by government. The overall goal is to improve New Zealanders’ interactions with government.

  • In terms of an inclusive growth agenda, results for citizen’s satisfaction and confidence with healthcare, education, the judicial system and the national government are all above the OECD average in Norway. The country also scores positively with regards to changes in disposable income by income groups. Norway also scores close to OECD average in regards to access to health care and scores best in terms of equity in learning outcomes. In line with the Nordic approach, Norway is above average for results regarding gender balance. These results testify for the capacity of inclusiveness of the public institutions and the governance approach in the country. However, Norway, similar to some other European countries, has seen its average score in mathematics in PISA go down, and they are now slightly below OECD average (OECD, 2015).

  • In May 2015, Poland implemented new Guidelines on Regulatory Impact Assessment preparation and on conducting consultation. These new guidelines provide more detailed guidance and put stronger emphasis on public consultation during a legislative process (its transparency, predictability, commonness and responsiveness). The guidelines include not only requirements, but also manuals how to conduct public consultation in order to engage citizens and businesses in the decision making process through a variety of tools such as: pre-consultations, on-line consultations, consultation meetings or drafting concrete questions that will make it easier for the public side to get acquainted with draft legislation and facilitate responsiveness.

  • In Portugal, open government has become prominent at the national level. The Government believes that open government provides major social benefits and uses inclusion mechanisms to co-produce public services. These mechanisms lead effective policy-making, improved government trust, civil society engagement and efficiency of public services enabled by transparency and access to policy making.

  • To better listen to citizens and businesses, the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic, as a co-ordinator of Better Regulation in Slovakia, launched a reform of Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) in 2015. The goal of the reform is to increase the quality of legislative and non-legislative materials and to enhance transparency of public policy decision-making based on recommendations of the European Union, OECD and experience of member states. New guidelines on impact assessment of governmental proposals were approved by the Government earlier this year.

  • In Slovenia, several participation tools have been developed to stimulate citizens, businesses and civil society organisations to take part and actively engage in decision-making process and the co-production of public services. In addition to online tools that enable one way relationship where government produces and delivers information for citizens, tools have also been designed to implement two way communication. These tools will enable citizens and businesses to provide feedback to government and actively participate in the policy-process.

  • In an effort to better listen to citizens and businesses, the Spanish Government passed the “Law on transparency, access to public information and good governance” (“Transparency Law”) in 2013. This law improves and strengthens transparency in public activity as it develops obligations for all public administrations and public organisations to actively include public participation in the decision-making process. It also recognises and guarantees access to public information, which is regulated as a right of a wide subjective and objective scope. It develops, as stated in Article 105.b) of Spanish Constitution, the access of citizens to administrative files and records, except those affecting the security and defence of the State, the investigation of crimes and the privacy of individuals. Finally, the law promotes transparency in the public activity by ensuring that the public has the right to access public information and guarantee the regulations on good governance by creating a Counsel of Transparency and Good Governance.

  • Beginning in July 2014, the Swedish Government appointed a commission to study and propose measures to increase and broaden involvement of citizens in representative democracy. The aim was to find solutions that would increase opportunities for individuals to participate in, and have influence over, the decisionmaking process. This includes suggestions on how marginalised groups can gain influence.

  • Switzerland has a long tradition of semi-direct and federalist democracy that has created a special bond of trust between the population and its political authorities. This confidence between citizens, their political representatives and public administrations that perform state functions must be preserved as public expectations for transparency and interactivity are always high and reinforced by new technological possibilities.

  • Aware of the importance of participatory decision making, the Tunisian Government has undertaken efforts to engage with citizens and businesses to promote exchanges with different sectors of society. The spirit of consensus helped Tunisia through its democratic transition and overcoming major crises that have recently occurred.

  • The Turkish Government has used participatory decision-making mechanisms in various fields, including taking the opinions of stakeholders in preparing strategic plans and performance programmes, establishing city councils in local governments, consulting with relevant parties in the process of drafting the legislation, the Prime Ministry Communication Centre, the application “Ask the President”, receiving opinions through the website of Turkish Grand National Assembly and through certain websites for the works on the new constitution, and other websites belonging to the public institutions designed to receive individual opinions and suggestions. For example, the Prime Ministry Communication Centre is a sophisticated public relations service through which citizens can submit requests, complaints, notices, opinions and proposals directly to the Prime Ministry or to other relevant authorities with the help of Prime Ministry by means of various communication channels (Internet, phone, letter, fax or in person). In addition, some individual initiatives will be discussed below.

  • The Open Policy Making team in Cabinet Office was created to challenge the traditional culture of policy makers and help them adapt to meet the demands of a fast paced and increasingly digital world. The team had a remit to broaden the range of people the Government engages with and improve the quality of participation during the development and implementation of policy.

  • The President has driven the federal government to use an approach that focuses on innovation and improvement, not just compliance. From the first days in office, he has asked agencies to develop clear goals that matter to citizens, ensures there are regular reviews of progress using data and evidence, and is transparent about progress to the public. The United States has provided some specific examples of ways this work is being carried out in agencies and how it is leading to measurable improvements in the way government operates.