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FROM INDIVIDUALS IN PUBLIC SERVICE TO DEMOCRATIC ENABLERS: THE CASE OF OPEN GOVERNMENT IN COSTA RICA

Together with the Costa Rican government, we co-created its open government action plan and designed spaces for dialogue with citizens.


CONTEXT:


In the framework of the IV National Action Plan for Open Government, Kubadili accompanied the Costa Rican government in the co-creation of its action plan. The plan sought to involve different actors from civil society, the private sector, academia and the public sector in a series of commitments to promote transparency, accountability, innovation and citizen participation in the public management processes of the three Costa Rican branches of government.

This plan was carried out in collaboration with Accesa, Global Integrity, Ministry of Communication of Costa Rica, Iplex, Indefinido and Costa Rica Íntegra with funding from the World Bank and Open Government Partnership.


LISTENING TO THE CHALLENGE:


The objective of an open government is for citizens to collaborate in the creation and improvement of public services and in the strengthening of transparency and accountability through free access to information, active citizen participation and the collaboration of the civil sector in the co-creation of public policies. Innovation and modernization are also fundamental characteristics of an open government, as they enable the development of the public sector and quality public policies for all citizens.


In this sense, the Government of Costa Rica approached us with a key challenge and objective: to generate transparency and trust among citizens based on sustainable practices linked to open government.


METHODOLOGICAL DESIGN:


Prior to the start of the process, it was necessary to generate an organizational transformation. Carrying out a transformation with these characteristics is always a challenge, so it was important to take into account two aspects: first, to know the state culture in order to anticipate what would happen during the transformation process. Secondly, to determine the impact of the bureaucracies faced by citizens and those that are formed internally in governments through linkages and power relations.


Promotional flyer for the IV Open Government Action Plan


Therefore, in order to generate openness, transparency and transformation, decision-makers were involved so that the government could open up inwards, since internal decision-making tends to be the most bureaucratized processes (and the ones that have the greatest impact on citizens). As an organization that accompanies and facilitates change, we had to adapt our agreements with the Costa Rican government, generating instances of dialogue and joint learning that would allow us to review and improve the transformation process during the accompaniment.


Finally, a series of actions were carried out to ensure compliance with the highest standards of participation and co-creation. This involved an exhaustive review of official OGP documents and Independent Review Mechanism assessment reports for Costa Rica, as well as focus groups with stakeholders who had been part of previous co-creation processes and calls and meetings with other experts.

EVENT AND Y RESULTS:


For three months, we accompanied Costa Rican government officials involved in decision-making in their transformation into democratic facilitators. Throughout several virtual and face-to-face workshops, our team worked on their conceptions, their decision-making processes, their problem-solving skills and their ability to connect with citizens to foster co-creation dialogues.


Once government personnel began to simultaneously conceive of themselves as democratic facilitators and successfully appropriated the skills of our facilitators, we began the spaces for dialogue with citizens that we co-created together.


Costa Rican government officials participating in a face-to-face workshop. Photo: Open Government of Costa Rica, Kubadili


The pillars on which the co-creation roundtables were based were: transparency and trust, informed participation, evidence-based decision making, joint learning, focus on the final beneficiary, inclusive participation, continuous participation, alignment with government priorities and national vision.


The key to this process was to identify the demands of the users who formed the various working groups and, from there, to design the relevant spaces and solutions. This project allowed the Costa Rican government to work with the citizens and learn from their concerns, needs and initiatives as users in order to develop public policies.


RESULTS IN NUMBERS:

  • Over the course of 3 months, we held a series of workshops aimed at people in the public sector and 1 space for dialogue aimed at civil society, the private sector, academia and the public sector.

  • Together, more than 100 people participated in both spaces.

  • Multiple specialists in open government and transparency from the Government of Costa Rica and organizations that accompanied the transformation process participated.

  • Two specialists from Kubadili participated.

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