On 8-9 May 2014 over 300 representatives of governments and civil society from over 30 countries took part in the OGP European regional meeting hosted by Minister Howlin of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Dublin Castle. On day one of the conference the Minister presented Ireland’s 1st Draft OGP National Action Plan and between May 8th and June 7th the Minister invited feedback on this Draft (PDF).
Open Knowledge Ireland participated in a joint working group with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform between February and April 2014 and continuously helped to refine the Action Plan to help make it more meaningful to all Irish citizens. However, there was a lot of red tape and to date many suggestions have not been adopted. Another shortfall is that there was no public engagement on behalf of the Minister or the relevant Government Unit.
So in the spirit of the OGP principles of citizen engagement and participation, Open Knowledge Ireland, with support of the OGP, held an OGP Jam on Saturday, 7th June to generate tools and ideas on how to make the OGP Action Plan meaningful to Irish citizens. Around ten people participated in a collaborative and creative event supported by Microsoft Ireland and Dovetail Technologies.
The main benefit of the OGP Jam was that we were able to work with other citizens and use new technologies to explore how we can turn a government document into something that makes sense to the average citizen. What follows is a brief story around what was achieved on the day.
The main goal of OGP Jam was to make Ireland’s first OGP Action Plan more concise and specific in the areas of “Open Data”, “Citizen Participation” and “Trust”.
Over the course of the Jam, our volunteers concentrated on three key areas of Ireland’s first OGP Action Plan. The participants concluded that in order to make the Action Plan more actionable, measurable, readable and understandable the Action Plan in its current format needs to be improved by including the following:
[NOTE: All suggested dates and partner organisations are to be confirmed with the Irish Government, these are our suggestions]
- Assigning partner organisations (which may follow up with the government throughout the implementation period). The Irish OGP Action Plan needs to be populated with Partner Organisations that the Government can partner with the government to achieve their goals. Other Action Plans including for example the UK OGP Action Plan have demonstrated that this is a solid methodology for Action Plan implementation:
- Make commitments SMART wherever possible. Remember, that’s Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Realistic-Timebound. Applying SMART classification to tasks is the only way we can interpret if and when a commitment was completed.
- You cannot easily see this from the 27 pages of the Action Plan. But if you look at it in a structured way and strip down the text into what’s relevant, not many commitments are SMART, yet.
- Create a roadmap for NAP implementation over the 2014-2016 period
As per OGP guidelines, Action Plans should be written in plain language with minimal use of jargon or technical terms. So the idea was to simplify the document and make it more accessible to a wider audience through clarity, precision and specification.
Imagine going from this:
To this (actual content! – and this is only a very simple prototype!!):
The community members who attended the OGP Jam created this model and to a large extent filled it with possible values. In many cases the time-frames, partners, goals, challenges, etc. for each commitment are still unknown. But we have provided this model to the Government Reform Unit looking after the OGP Action Plan as a recommendation on how to make the Action Plan more accessible to everyone.
Our work will continue throughout the implementation phase of the Action Plan and you can follow our progress here (http://openknowledge.ie/ogp-action-plan/).
The OGP Jam is storified here and you’ll find photos of the event here.