Innovative Methodology for Co-creation of Open Government Commitments
As one of Open Government Partnership’s co-founders, Brazil has developed a new co-creation methodology to define the commitments of its National Action Plans (NAP). It has envisaged co-creation workshops with parity participation of experts from government and civil society in chosen themes. The initiative aimed to conciliate the watchful eye of civil society’s representatives and the technical eye of those actors who live the reality of the state administrative machinery to set commitments.
The methodology for the co-creation of commitments was materialized on the 3rd National Action Plan in response to the Brazilian government's desire to involve civil society more actively in OGP-related activities, solving gaps observed during its first years in the Partnership. As a result of an intense collaborative work, developed by representatives of government and civil society to implement this significant change in relation to the construction of previous plans, the methodology of the co-creation process was innovative, unique, internationally praised and replicated for succeeding in the effort of conciliating the watchful and rewarding eye of civil society’s representatives and the technical and legal eye of those actors who live the reality of the state administrative machinery to set commitments in Open Government.
The co-creation methodology predicts the realization of several workshops that stimulate the collaborative work between government and society, resulting in a wide debate among specialists on the prioritized themes. For each theme chosen, two co-creation workshops are held: the first to discuss the challenge to be faced and the second to define the commitment. Thus, at the end of the second stage, each group defines the Brazilian commitment in the theme, the actors responsible for its implementation and execution, as well as the deadlines, actions and milestones for monitoring.
This methodology overcome both the models that use simple public consultation to civil society on documents exclusively drafted by the government and those which fix government’s approval of propositions originated in civil society’s exclusive fora. The initiative strengthens democracy, the legitimacy of public action and promotes collective well-being. It is, therefore, a management model in which the government not only listens to society, but seeks solutions to meet the priority demands in a collaborative way.
Given the positive results achieved in Brazil's 3rd National Action Plan, the co-creation methodology was used again to build the 4th Plan and is expected to be used again in the preparing processes of future National Action Plan of the country, although there is always space for improvement.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The process is innovative for involving actors who usually have no common spaces to discuss public policies. The co-creation project is innovative because it can significantly increase the interaction between government and society, overcoming difficulties inherent to the dynamics of discussing several themes with different segments of civil society and with different areas of government. By using techniques of design thinking, the methodology leads government and civil society to negotiate and work together to reach the best for both. In addition, it is also successful to define and consolidate, in the co-creation process, the involvement of governmental and extra-governmental partners in the work of executing and monitoring the commitments.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The participation of specialized staff happened as follows: 3rd NAP: 16 commitments designed by 105 people (57 CS representatives, 48 government officials from federal, state and municipal levels); 4th NAP: 11 commitments, designed by 105 people from 88 entities (39 CS representatives, 39 government officials from Federal Public Administration and 10 officials from State and Municipal Government). They brought their experience, enthusiasm and work in the theme they were selected for.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Users and beneficiaries of 3rd and 4th Brazilian NAP are part of a broad group of people, entities and governing bodies (from various levels). Some themes discussed on the last two Plans gives a notion on their dimension: open data, access to information, education, health, prison system, innovation in public services, legislative process, Electoral Justice, environment, culture, security nutritional, land transportation, repair of regions affected by dam rupture, land issues and water resources
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The co-creation process developed by Brazil has contributed to move the country towards a more transparent and responsible administration. The model implemented generated positive impacts on the interaction between government and Civil Society and produced benefits such as: increased trust in government, more qualified definition of political agenda, participation of appropriate interlocutors on discussions, improvement on prioritization of actions, promotion of citizenship and management of public problems. In education, for instance, there is a platform for sharing OER (open educational resources); in environment, the relation between civil society and government for opening data is highly successful; in the legislative, many tools have been implemented for opening the parliament; in access to information, there was the implementation of the requester's identity preservation functionality in the Federal Electronic System for Citizen's Access to Information, among others.
Challenges and Failures
The greatest challenge of the process is to ensure correct representation of specialized segments in co-creation workshops, since there is the concern to include diverse groups and profiles, such as gender and territoriality. There are also difficulties related to low engagement of Civil Society and government officials in some actions, and to budget constraints. As a solution, the CGU strengthened contacts with partners, held meetings to raise public awareness and sought institutional support to develop the work.
Conditions for Success
Structural conditions that allowed for the success of the project were: legal and institutional support, the CGU's continuous interaction with Civil Society's Advisory Working Group, existence of specific spaces for the dissemination of all actions and results, and the availability of a team that works specifically with the activities related to OGP, embedded within the Coordination General for Open Government and Transparency of the CGU.
Another important aspect was the issuance of the Decree (http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_ato2011-2014/2011/dsn/dsn13117.htm) that institutionalized the National Action Plan of OGP in the scope of the Federal Administration. Also, there is the Resolution n. 1 (http://governoaberto.cgu.gov.br/no-brasil/grupo-de-trabalho-da-sociedade-civil/copy_of_grupo-de-trabalho-da-sociedade-civil/resolucao_institui_gt_ge_ciga_2014.pdf), that institutionalizes de Civil Society's Advisory Group.
The methodology of co-creation was initiated in in 2016, during the drafting of the 3rd National Action Plan, and was used again for the preparation of the 4th National Action Plan, in 2018. In addition, the municipality of São Paulo (which implements OGP projects for subnational level) and other countries (such as Germany and Portugal) showed interest in Brazilian co-creation methodology and the possibility of replicating the dynamics for the elaboration of their action plans.
Experience has shown that difficulties and limitations in the implementation of commitments on open government can be better overcame when there are engagement and participation of actors from different bodies and entities sharing their expertise for a common result.
In this sense, as learning, it is possible to mention that the co-creation dynamic brings several immediate benefits. Among them, we can mention the setting of mutual trust that is established when spaces of collaboration, evaluation, validation and execution are created.
In addition, as already highlighted, it promotes the qualification of political agenda, with the participation of appropriate interlocutors in the discussions, the improvement of actions prioritization, the promotion of citizenship and the better management of public problems.
The perspective with this innovation is to allow the country to move towards a new reality in which transparency, social participation, accountability and accountability are guidelines adopted in all public management work practices.
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