Open Government: Participate, Propose and Be Heard! – The Process in Greece

The involvement and collaboration of governmental bodies, citizens and other stakeholders in order to promote open data and open government initiatives were one of the main achievements of the event “Open Government: Participate, Propose and Be Heard! Conformation of the Third National Action Plan 2016-2018.” The event was co-organized by the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction, Aristotle University and Open Knowledge Greece on the 30th of May.

The first part go the event included speeches from the following speakers: Christoforos Vernardakis, the Alternate Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction, Cecile LeGuen, Open Knowledge International, Open Spending Project Manager, Dr. Charalampos Bratsas, CEO of Open Knowledge Greece,  Dr. Vassilios Peristeras, Programme Manager, European Commission, Prof. Pericles Mitkas, Rector of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Theodore Theodoropoulos, Investments Evaluator at Region of Western Macedonia,  Charalampos Tsitlakidis, Chief Digital Officer at the municipality of Thessaloniki, Sotiris Kilafis, Coordinator and Nancy Routzouni, Adviser on e-Government to the Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform.  

ΣυνολικήThe speakers discussed many aspects of open government in the national and local levels. The representatives of the government and the local administrations underlined the importance of fiscal and administrative transparency and the participation of the citizens in the decision making process.

The Alternate Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction, Christoforos Vernardakis, emphasised the need for collaboration: “The demands are growing and there is a need for a collaborative work between public bodies and citizens in order to support transparency in the public administration” , Some of the Ministry’s goal for this year are a functional open deliberation, the existence of a transparent Justice System and the collaboration of the Parliament for an open legislation process.

There is also a significant interest and activity in the local administrations. The regional Administration of Western Macedonia has made two commitments on budget: The first is regarding an open budget that enables the citizens to see the administration’s budget and monitor its implementation. The second one involves  a participatory  budget which will give citizens  the opportunity to vote and decide the budgetary allocation.

Mr. Tsitlakidis, Chief Digital Officer at the municipality of Thessaloniki, mentioned the strategic collaboration with Open Knowledge Greece on open government and the initiatives on open budgets, as well as the “Improve my city” service, the open data portal in CKAN, concluding with the strategic planning and the challenges of transforming Thessaloniki into a city as a platform.  

Open Knowledge International and Open Knowledge Greece, introduced their work on open data and transparency. Open Knowledge International has developed an Open Fiscal Data Package (FDP) standard for publishing information on budgets in open data formats. Open Knowledge Greececurrently selects and analyzes the financial performance indicators from a number of municipalities that are provided by the government according to the law and creates visualizations, that will be used to develop data journalism stories (first example). Both parties participate in the project, where a semantic equivalent of the FDP is also developed and country-specific fiscal indicators are being studied and visualized.

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Other important initiatives and platforms have been presented by the Aristotle University, as it is the very first university to openly provide all of its data and also publish statistics visualizations, in order for the data to be more appealing to the public.

In a European level, Vassilios Peristeras, Programme Manager, European Commission, underlined the importance of interoperability and the contribution of a single European database, the European Data Portal that could also cooperate with the local administrations for publishing data.

The second part of the event was a workshop organized by OK Greece in order to encourage people to participate in the process of deliberation and get involved in the initiative of open government. Members from OK Greece coordinated the whole procedure, while others participated along with the other people.

The participants, divided in 4 teams, discussed and made proposals on open government based on the three issue areas of integrity and accountability, access to information and authorisation to the citizens.

The workshop was very successful and productive as more than 32 proposals were made. Moreover, it was an opportunity for the administrative sector to talk and listen to citizens and other stakeholders on the matter of a transparent society.20160530_154933

As Nancy Routzouni, Adviser on e-Government to the Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform, mentions in her speech “the administrative reform is a matter that concerns all of us”.

The participants evaluated the proposals in an online form and the most important ones became part of the final document with the proposals from OK Greece that has been submitted to the Ministry for further evaluation in order to be incorporated in Greek third national action plan to the Open Government Partnership.

OK Greece worked hard to make this event happen. We want people to be informed about open data and transparency and get them involved in the deliberation process. As a Greek Chapter of a Open Knowledge we are trying to promote and, mostly, we develop open data initiatives in all levels.

See more about the workshop in the attached video.