National Action Plan Process
National Action Plan Process
A: Consultation during NAP development:
A great deal of time and effort was invested in the development of the NAP and an intensive process of consultation utilising a variety of mechanisms was undertaken to provide the broadest possible range of citizens the opportunity to engage. The process took place over a period of 14 months in a manner consistent with the OGP Guidelines for Public Consultation on Country Commitments. Following a competitive procurement process, Transparency International Ireland was engaged by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) in June 2013 to manage a public consultation process with civil society aimed at developing proposals for consideration for inclusion in the NAP. Three public meetings, arranged by Transparency International Ireland with funding support from DPER, were held during summer 2013 involving civil society groups and citizens and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform addressed the first meeting. Some 40 non-governmental organisations (over 100 individuals) participated in the consultation - see details in the archive section of www.ogpireland.ie. . DPER also encouraged a large number of organisations (civil society, unions, business and public bodies), to advise them of the OGP consultation process and to encourage participation.
The consultation process resulted in a report containing 62 recommendations for inclusion in the NAP. The recommendations spanned a broad range of areas with diverging degrees of specificity and no priorities assigned. A number of submissions were also submitted to DPER and can be found at http://www.per.gov.ie/en/background-to-the-development-of-the-national-action-plan/. The report and submissions were considered by Government and a meeting was held with civil society to consider how best to identify a limited number of recommendations for inclusion in the draft NAP which would best meet OGP objectives and standards.
A Joint Working Group (JWG) comprising representatives of civil society and Government Departments was established and met on a weekly basis from February 6th to April 3rd with an alternating chair. The JWG considered the recommendations for a period of several weeks culminating in a detailed response to each proposal (http://www.ogpireland.ie/documents/) and developed the draft NAP; with the civil society representatives consulting weekly with a Civil Society Forum. The action points from the weekly meetings of the JWG and all drafts of the NAP were published on the web. Following consideration by the Government, the draft NAP was launched at the OGP Europe Regional Meeting in Dublin Castle on 8th and 9th May 2014 for public consultation. Following the consultation, the NAP was finalised, approved by the Government and submitted to the OGP Steering Committee.
B: Consultation during implementation
Consultation during implementation took place at two levels - in relation to the individual actions under the plan and in relation to the OGP plan as a whole.
Consultation on implementation of individual actions
Primary responsibility for implementation of specific actions under the Plan rests with the public body to which lead responsibility is assigned and details of the extent of engagement of civil society with the public sector during implementation are set out in the individual templates at Appendix 1. There was extensive engagement in the development of the first Government Strategy on Children and Young People's Participation in Decision-making brought forward by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. There was also extensive consultation at all of the key stages in the development of the legislative reforms brought forward by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to ensure adequate and effective arrangements for governance and accountability and to increase public integrity.
Of particular note is the consultation undertaken during the implementation of the action on the Register of Lobbying. The process included seeking submissions from interested parties, follow-up meetings with stakeholders, hosting an open public seminar, a further consultation phase on the outcome of these, a public consultation on the draft General Scheme, pre-legislative scrutiny, and consultation across all Government Departments. In addition, prior to the enactment of the legislation, a paper-based pilot of the proposed lobbying register was developed and stakeholders (i.e. five groups in total including representative organisations) were invited to highlight issues encountered and an Advisory Group has been established to advise on implementation of the legislation.
A number of public events have been held, for example in relation to the Open Data actions, referenda were held following the Constitutional Convention in which many stakeholders participated, key policy documents were published for consultation and many other actions were taken to involve citizens and civil society during implementation.
Consultation on monitoring of implementation
In relation to the monitoring of implementation, DPER is responsible for collecting information and reporting on progress in respect of the implementation of the Action Plan. A progress update was provided in December 2014, further progress reports were published in April 2015 and, following an update provided at an open consultative event on 14th July 2015, in August 2015.
As regards consultation on the monitoring of the NAP as a whole, the proposal as set out in the NAP was to establish an Implementation Review Group (IRG) comprising representatives of civil society and Government Departments to monitor and oversee progress in respect of the NAP as a whole. A meeting of public service and civil society representatives was held in December 2014 to discuss draft terms of reference, the appointment of its Chair and the mechanism for appointing members to such a group. There was correspondence and meetings in later weeks in this regard. However, the Department was concerned that having such a small group of civil society representatives would not significantly progress the core objective of the OGP of increasing citizen participation. The Department proposed therefore, and the civil society representatives agreed, that a public consultative event should be held to address such issues. The aim of the event was to seek to establish how best to raise awareness of the OGP, broaden participation of citizens as well as civil society in the OGP and embed it in a sustainable way, and to inform the final approach to a model for monitoring progress in implementation. The event was held on 14th July 2015.
C: Consultation on the Self-Assessment Report.
A draft version of the mid-term Self-Assessment was published for consultation from 21st September to 12th October 2015. The response rate was low. One concern related to the short time available to respond to the Self- Assessment Report. However, it should be noted that progress reports on the implementation of the NAP were published at regular intervals and reported on at the consultative event held in July 2015.
Concern was also expressed about some delay in progressing actions in relation to young children and on enabling citizen engagement in local authority budgetary processes. The Digital Strategy for Schools is a long-term goal that sets out a five year programme of work and important progress has been made in the summer of 2016 towards achieving greater teacher support for the reform necessary to maximise understanding of young people in civic life.
A great deal of time and effort was invested in the development of the NAP and a consultation event was held in July 2015 to consider, among other things, how best to broaden participation of citizens as well as civil society in the OGP and embed it in a sustainable way.