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New pathways for citizen agency: Open Government National Action Plans in Uruguay

Date added: June 20, 2017

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Since the implementation of the first Open Government Partnership National Action Plan (OGP-NAP) in Uruguay in 2012, open government has evolved from a focus on e-government that was non-participatory, towards a multi-stakeholder, transversal approach to public policies, with its own budget allocation. This and subsequent NAPs have incorporated citizen engagement in its objectives to improve government transparency, accountability and responsiveness, and have been developed though a multi-stakeholder consultation process.

This case study examined whether the ICT-supported citizen engagement processes underpinning OGP-NAPs have transformed democratic governance or whether they remain a superficial exercise to reinforce politically correct visions of open government.  The key focus of analysis was the bargaining process among stakeholders – how different actors were able to adapt and collaborate to develop the course of action.

The authors state that citizen engagement processes have met with challenges. While all actors involved in the NAP implementation agree that a bottom-up approach in the plan creation process has boosted participation, participatory initiatives in the NAPs have had limited impact overall. Government end efforts seek to engage civil society and citizen participation in public policy, specifically in open data access. However, these new modalities are not widely used nor are they extended to policy processes in all domains.

Recommendations for public policy:

  • citizen engagement mechanisms in public policy need to be expanded and improved to deepen social and governmental democratisation
  • government capabilities to support co-creation and collaborative development of public policies need to be strengthened, including an increase in ICT-mediated participation and training programs for civil servants
  • advocacy spaces need to be made available for young actors willing to take part and introduce innovations in the process
  • all actors involved in the process should continue to work on building further technical capacities as well as trust-based cooperation mechanisms
  • the government needs to demonstrate the political will to engage citizens and to open up official data in order to strengthen and consolidate ICT-mediated public policy co-creation
  • democracy in digital times requires a revisiting of regulatory frameworks - the implementation of the access to public information law needs to be strengthened.
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