Offerman Consulting
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Slovenian portal allows citizens to participate in government decision making

Author: Adrian Offerman

Case Abstract

Five years ago, the Slovenian government launched the predlagam.vladi.si portal, allowing citizens to participate in government decision making. The system is based on the TID+ software that was originally developed for the Estonian government. Since then, the portal has accumulated almost 13,000 registered users, responsible for 5,000 suggestions, 33,000 comments and 72,000 votes. About two dozen of the suggestions that received the required number of votes and a positive response from the government have now been implemented. The Slovenian Government Communication Office is currently working on improving the number of suggestions that receive a positive response and get implemented, by moving the decision-making process from ministries and government offices to the level of government committees.

Case Description

In November 2009, the Government Communication Office of Slovenia introduced the website predlagam.vladi.si (in Slovenian; "mysuggestion.gov.si"). The site allows citizens to communicate directly with their government and among themselves on important issues. They can express their opinions, participate in the legislative process, and make suggestions to reduce administrative overhead. Citizens can submit new ideas, discuss them in an open forum, and express support for other ideas by voting. Policy makers are required to contribute to these discussions as well, addressing questions and issues that come up.

Dialogue

The project is part of a larger effort by the Slovenian government to achieve greater participation by individuals and civil society in the formulation of government policies and to strengthen dialogue between civil society and the state.

pradlagam.vladi.si is a participatory tool for citizens to address issues that they themselves perceive as needing government action or involvement, says a GCO spokesperson. In addition we have:

  • e-democracy, where citizens can comment and send in suggestions on legislative changes proposed by the government; and
  • NIO, our open data and National Interoperability Framework portal.

Project Size and Implementation

The Slovenian portal predlagam.vladi.si is based on the TID+ software (Today I Decide) that was originally developed for the Estonian government under the name TOM. This public participation portal was partly financed by the European Union under the eParticipation project and launched in June 2001. By the time the project had ended, 7,010 registered users had proposed and discussed 1,187 new initiatives. Subsequent rounds of funding for further development let the software evolve into an elaborate suite that can serve as a starting point for governments and organisations looking for a solution through which citizens can channel their ideas for regulation. The code is not published under an open source license but will be made available upon request.

In cooperation with the Estonian government and a non-governmental organisation, the TID+ software was updated and extended with new functionality to meet Slovenian needs. Over the last five years, 28,480 euro was paid to the Estonian contractor responsible for upgrades and maintenance of the web application. Most of this was to cover the cost of the initial installation and updates in the first year of the project and a visual update because of the introduction of a new corporate identity in 2010.

Efforts

Adjusting the software to our requirements did not take a lot of effort. Since it comes with a lot of options, the software allowed us to customise the process. Translating the software was pretty straightforward too. We did add some specific features like Facebook login (later removed), a weekly newsletter with the latest developments and ideas — which proved to be very effective in motivating users to return and participate — and a voting quorum, among others.

The software can be easily deployed by other European countries. But it was developed over a decade ago, so there are probably more contemporary solutions available on the market.

Currently, two people from the government are directly involved in interacting with citizens, which takes about ten percent of their time. The answers, of course, are prepared by the ministries and government offices responsible for the particular issues.

Impact, Innovation and Results

According to the Government Communication Office, in the space of five years, the predlagam.vladi.si portal has achieved the following results:

  • 12,891 registered users,
  • 5,095 suggestions (3 on average per day),
  • 33,304 comments (7 on average per suggestion),
  • 72,289 votes (14 on average per suggestion),
  • the maximum number of 1,334 votes was received for a suggestion regarding dog fights,
  • 1,675 suggestions (33 percent) received the required level of support and were forwarded for a response,
  • 3,113 users were active in the last year, 674 in the last month.

Two percent (25) of the suggestions that got the required level of support received a positive response from the government. Most of them deal with the quality of online government services. Fifteen of those were implemented. Some examples are:

  • lower duties on vehicles used for transport of disabled people (not yet implemented), and
  • lower Value Added Tax on washable diapers: clearly a mistake had been made when drafting the legislation, because washable diapers ended up with higher VAT than disposable diapers; this decision was implemented in a matter of days.

We are currently working on improving the number of suggestions that get a positive response and get implemented. So we are moving the decision-making process from ministries and government offices to the level of government committees, where the majority of policy decisions are made.

Multimedia content

TID+ demo site: http://ideas.tidplus.net/