An Open Declaration on Public Services in the European Union
The needs of today’s society are too complex to be solved by government alone. While traditional government policies used the web to automate public services and encourage self-service, the biggest impact of the web will be in improving services through collaboration, transparency and knowledge-sharing.
Europe is uniquely well placed to be a leader in this area. It should grasp the opportunity to rebuild the relationship between citizens and the state by opening up public institutions and by empowering citizens to take a more active role in public services.
Against this background, we propose three core principles for European public services:
1. Transparency: all public sector organisations should be “transparent by default” and should provide the public with clear, regularly-updated information on all aspects of their operations and decision-making processes. There should also be robust mechanisms for citizens to highlight areas where they would like to see further transparency. When providing information, public sector organisations should do so in open, standard and reusable formats, but with full regard to privacy issues.
2. Participation: government should pro-actively seek citizen input in all its activities from user involvement in shaping services to public participation in policy-making. This input should be public for other citizens to view and government should publicly respond to it. The capacity to collaborate with citizens should become a core competence of government.
3. Empowerment: public institutions should seek to act as platforms for public value creation. In particular, government data and government services should be made available in ways that others can easily build on. Public organisations should also enable all citizens to come together and solve their problems for themselves, by providing tools, skills and resources.
We recognise that implementing these principles will take time as governance mechanisms will have to be adapted, but we believe they should be at the heart of efforts to transform government. Citizens are already acting on these ideas and transforming public services “from the outside”, but governments should support and accelerate this process.
We call on European governments and the European Commission to incorporate these principles in their eGovernment action plans and ensure that Europe’s citizens enjoy the benefits of transparent, participative, empowering government as soon as possible.