Increasing citizens’ engagement by using social innovation and social media to enhance government’s transparency and accountability

Overview


The project came about as a result of several factors: the Government of Montenegro joining the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the penetration of Internet and new media, and the need to create the right environment for citizens’ participation. Within the broader framework of the government’s commitment towards more transparency, effectiveness and accountability, with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations, the Project aims to advance the on-going activities and expand the tools, mechanisms and areas for citizen engagement. Having in mind the fact that participation is steadily moving towards the online space, the project will rely on the use of web/mobile technology to create indispensable linkages between the public sector and civil society.

In line with the OGP principles, the project strives to tackle grey economy by ensuring the maximum possible civic participation in reporting and creating a mechanism for prompt feedback to the general public. The project will further promote social innovation as a model of engagement where citizens lend their unique skills to solving the challenges of accessing public services. Finally, the project will extensively use new media for constructive dialogue, voicing and solving citizens’ concerns.

What is the project about?

The project aims to achieve the overarching goal of enhancing government transparency and accountability through three components.

Firstly, there is a need to introduce e-petitioning at the local governance level bearing in mind the experience in running the central Citizens’ Voice e-petition platform. Since the majority of submitted petitions pertain to the competence of municipalities, the project will transfer knowledge and experience gained by running Citizens’ Voice to the municipal authorities interested in digital forms of engagement in policy making.

The second component revolves around civic reporting of informal economy and tax fraud. The intervention was designed jointly with the Ministry of Finance in an effort to achieve fiscal discipline; citizens’ inputs are of paramount importance as they are providing real-time updates on breaches of pertinent legislation across the territory. This component relies heavily on the use of web and mobile applications, which greatly contributes to the transparency of operations of government entities.

The third component is implemented chiefly in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, in an effort to further apply the concept of social innovation, i.e. sourcing ideas and technology powered solutions from the citizens. The project will set up a customizable toolkit to browse multiple public records databases in order to increase effectiveness and transparency of the public procurement. The project will make use of the fact that social media are becoming a place where politics and policies are discussed, activism exercised, and initiatives promoted. Dialogue on social good and community development will therefore be channeled through Twitter, while at the same time strengthening civic activism and empowering new faces of Montenegro.   

What have we accomplished so far?



The project builds upon the successes in opening up the space for civic participation. Together with the Government of Montenegro we have rolled out a web-based solution for digital democracy on October 9, 2012. The launch was marked by a lot of enthusiasm and aspirations that the “Citizens Voice” would become a vibrant spot for civic activism. As the platform is essentially a tool for the citizens, we sought out their feedback and committed to fine-tuning the website so that it meets the needs of the citizens. “Citizens’ Voice” is a website that enables the public to influence public policy-making process by submitting e-petitions (in local language) to the Government of Montenegro. Every adult citizen of Montenegro or a foreigner with permanent residence is allowed to file an e-petition in any field within the Government’s remit. If supported by at least 6000 citizens’ signatures, the relevant ministry will be required to turn such a petition into a formal initiative, which is then to be considered by the Government, and, if necessary, submitted to the Parliament.

In the last quarter of 2012, UNDP Montenegro and three NGO partners conducted an outreach campaign – Open ideas for Montenegro - throughout Montenegro to engage the citizens in defining problems in relation to transparency and accountability of the public administration, anti-corruption, equitable access to health, youth unemployment. 300 participants took part in 18 open meetings which produced a plethora of ideas to employ technology to issues such as: mapping problems in local communities, youth and education, effectiveness of local administrations, public utilities and transport, health, employment, information provision and volunteerism. Outreach was broadened via online community building through a dedicated web page and social media (Facebook, Twitter) interaction. UNDP Montenegro brokered relations with the citizens directly, which was not the predominant scenario in previous development projects.

At the final event held in May 2013, web/mobile application “Be Responsible” designed by the creative team of teachers and students of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering was awarded the first prize by the panel of judges. The application allows anyone to report cases of misuse of Government vehicles, illegal waste dumps, irregular parking, issuance of non-fiscal receipts, etc. and operates on a very simple 'capture and send' principle. The mobile application amassed more than 1000 active users in a month’s time. The project received global recognition, having been presented as one of the 7 Bright Spots at the Open Government Partnership Annual Summit, held in London in 2013.

Together with the Centre for Democratic Transition, we launched the Twitter project in November 2013, aiming to enhance civic activism and participation. One twitter agent is managing the @CGTvituje account for a week, sharing content and opening up pertinent debates in their respective areas of expertise. The project will run for 24 weeks, until May 2014. From the very start, the project generated a lot of interest – more than 1413 followers so far (March 2014).

Who finances it?

Donor name

Amount contributed

Government of Montenegro

USD 78,512

UNDP

USD 10,000

TOTAL

USD 88,512

Delivery in previous fiscal years

December 2013        
USD 37,695        
Project Overview
Status:
Active
Project Start Date:
August 2013
Estimated End Date:
December 2014
Geographic Coverage:
Nationwide/Montenegro
Focus Area:
Democratic Governance
Project Officer:
Ms. Marija Novković
marija.novkovic@undp.org
Tel: +382 20 447 460;
Partners:
Ministry of Finance of the Government of Montenegro, Tax Directorate, Directorate for Inspection Affairs, Center for Democratic Transition, Faculty of Electrical Engineering.
Related Documents
Project document
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