Increased transparency in the decision-making process
State Chancellery

The Problem

The problem of the public authorities in Moldova is that there was not enough knowledge, skills, and abilities relating to the development of public policy, with specific emphasis on the meaningful inclusion of stakeholders and citizens.
Until 2009, the decision-making process generated ignorance and distrust of citizens because central public authorities had no desire to open themselves and actually showed communication fears. These features were characteristic of the system on both dimensions: vertical and horizontal. There was no desire to engage citizen participation.
As a result there was no viable mechanism for the involvement of citizens and civil society organizations in the development of public policies and decision making process. The mechanism that existed was very cumbersome and not very popular among interested parties. Each ministry and central public administration body (a total of 24 institutions) maintained their own database of public participation and if someone wanted to find a specific public policy, they had to check all the websites of all the authorities. Most of the time, ministries and central public administration bodies had no designated person responsible for the consultation process, which also created obstacles for citizens if they wanted to participate in the process.
The civil society organizations had no access to Government agenda and couldn’t participate in Government meetings. Because of this, it was very difficult for interested stakeholders to participate in the monitoring, evaluation and the process of updating the strategic documents. There was no strategic partnership between Government, civil society and private sector. The dialogue between interested parties was very sporadic without elements of a continuous and permanent connection. In today’s day and age there is a big need for a meaningful dialogue between stakeholders.
One of the main reasons for not promoting active citizen participation was the lack of guidelines in elaborating a public policy. Each ministry had a distinct approach on solving a specific issue, which usually did not take into the account the impact of the decision on different social groups which were affected by the public policy. The civil servants were not able to see the desire of citizens to engage and contribute with their own expertise to the public policy development. The public policy process lacked the capacity to engage everyone to work together for better, more convincing and inclusive policy making and governance.
The confidence on the decision making process declined and made citizens very skeptical towards all the decisions that were approved by public authorities.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The initiative consisted of several steps. The first step was to convince the main decision factors that opening the Government to citizens will deliver tangible benefits for both citizens and civil servants. With the support of the Prime-minister, the State Chancellery implemented ambitious actions that had the goal to persuade the ministers to change the usual way of doing things; to coach civil servants in engaging citizen’s participation; to reform the central public administration. The main idea of the initiative was to shift from just consultation to citizen engagement in decision making process.
After laying the groundwork, now was the time for innovative solutions to today’s challenges. In order to streamline the process of public consultations and reduce the number of websites interested stakeholders had to check (24 websites of ministries and central public authorities) the State Chancellery introduced the “Participation module” which is the technical solution for organizing public consultations online which are simple and transparent. With the “Participation module” everyone can see all projects on one page. Everyone can now comment on everything that was posted online. The comment will appear immediately on the site in order to be seen by others users. The citizens can log into the system using the identity of the most popular social networks. Also, the website contains a public consultation agenda. You can check which public consultation is going to take place or you can return to past public consultations and watch the video of the event. The traffic increased from 2,000 unique visitors at the launch of the site to over 18,000. The idea of the platform is not only to consult the public opinion, but to promote active citizen participation.
In order to increase the participation of civil society in all Government activities and to institutionalize the dialogue as a norm the National Council for Participation was created. The council aims to develop and promote the strategic partnership between public authorities, civil society and the private sector to enhance participatory democracy in Moldova. The Council consists of 30 representatives of civil society. The term of office is two years. Members of the National Council for participation are consulted when the Government conveys the agenda and also they have the right to participate in all Government meetings. The direct connection to the Prime-minister of the country is a norm and an indispensable element of the decision making in Moldova.
In order to coordinate the process of public policy development, the State Chancellery developed a couple of guides: Ex-ante Analysis and Ex-post Evaluation. It presents the necessary steps that the authority needs to take in order to ensure that all stakeholders had the chance to share their opinion regarding the issue. Also, an important mandatory step is to include the gender and migration impact of the public policies. This was done to ensure that women and citizens who are abroad can be a part of the decision making process at all levels.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The above mentioned solutions were proposed by the State Chancellery in collaboration with the team of experts. The team consisted of people with a various background. Some came from the public sector, some from the private sector, and some from local or international NGOs. This different perspective helped in designing an interactive solution.
In order to ensure the implementation of the solution, the management and leadership was provided by the civil servants from the Policies, Strategic Planning and Foreign Aid General Department (State Chancellery).
A series of public events and workshops were organized in order to gather feedback and learn new ideas that improved the overall solution. For example, local NGOs, responsible for monitoring Government’s transparency, contributed a lot to the design of the “participation module”. They were very interested in creating a one-stop solution, instead of having to visit 24 different websites to find out what are Government’s next steps in terms of public policies.
The solution also came as a result of constant pressure on behalf of civil society. Instead of answering to specific questions addressed by specific civil organizations, the Government thought that it would be better to become more transparent and offer a possibility to everyone to be a part of the decision making process.
As a public authority, the civil servants from the State Chancellery realized that only by informing, consulting and engaging citizen’s participation, the Government can improve the quality, credibility and legitimacy of the policy decisions. The idea of transparency in decision-making and participation in governance is crucial, both for government and for citizens. The proposed solutions are lucrative and well institutionalized. The ultimate goal of these initiatives - transparency of the decision – is not the process itself, but a participatory democracy lived and practiced by every citizen, every day, and whenever there is a decision that it affects in particular or the community as a whole.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The civil servants from the State Chancellery together with the team of experts developed an action plan in order to implement the proposed solution. The main strategies that the organization focused on included: continuous dialogue with interested stakeholders, training with public servants and citizens interested in this topic, development of policy in the area of decision making transparency, and organizational change.
One of the most significant barriers in implementing the solution is resistance to organizational change. To succeed, the State Chancellery put a strong emphasis on dialogue within the government structures and also outside it, in order to receive feedback regarding the initiative. This allowed a strong sense of ownership to be created which was a great advantage when implementing the initiative. To make sure that central public authorities maintain the long-term commitment, the civil servants from the State Chancellery offered encouragement, consultation and help whenever there was a question regarding the “participation module”.
The first objective set by the State Chancellery was to develop a technological solution that would provide the integration of all 24 different websites into one which would include all information regarding public consultation and public participation. By simplifying and unifying all public participation, the Government delivered a one stop solution to all citizens which gave them the permission to comment and to evaluate all public policies developed by the Government and to participate in the decision making process.
The second objective was: to reduce the burden of meeting the reporting requirements. Until the “participation module”, each ministry and central public authority body had to report twice a year to the State Chancellery regarding the results achieved in the transparency area. Now all this information is publicly available on Anyone can generate information regarding the number of public policies posted, the number of comments in the system, the number of public consultation organized. More accurate data is available in a timely fashion. The better use of modern technology reduced cost (less paper used) and improved the efficiency of civil servants.
The third objective was to institutionalize the dialogue and create a stable partnership between government, citizens and business. The facilitator of the communication is the Council for National Participation. Their mission is to keep Government accountable in reaching to its citizens and reacting to their concerns with relevant policies.
The fourth objective was to shift the focus of central public administration from public consultation (which meant just posting online) to citizen engagement. Civil servants must demonstrate commitment to the process and have enough strength and patience to work with all interested stakeholders.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Consulting new draft legislation and public policy documents became mandatory, under Moldovan law in 2008. The first step was to analyze the experience gathered during the 4 years since the law was enacted. The analysis outlined that the impact of the consulting requirements was not significant and had not increased the public participation. The State Chancellery organized consultations with civil servants and local NGOs to come up with a viable solution that would go beyond consultation to include active participation. The solution that emerged after these consultations was to create the “participation module”. The State Chancellery organized a tender in order to select an IT company that would develop the website according to the collected proposals. Afterwards, during the pilot phase of “Participation module” civil servants from the State Chancellery organized two day trainings for civil servants responsible for public consultation and public participation from all ministries and central public authorities. After collecting their feedback, the “participation module” was improved and all identified bugs were fixed. The launch of the website was accompanied by a good advertising campaign. The “participation module” banner was placed on the most popular Moldovan websites, for example has over 1.6 million visits a month.
Another solution that emerged after consulting with different NGOs was that the existing dialogue between the Government and civil society must be institutionalized. The State Chancellery developed the draft of a Government decision regarding the National Council for participation. The draft also included the regulation of this new body. The draft was sent to all ministries and central public authorities and also to the civil society. The National Council for Participation was received with great enthusiasm among both, the Government and the citizens.
The State Chancellery also developed the ex-ante and ex-post guides. Thus, the public policy cycle will be achieved through a comprehensive analysis and assessment conducted in three consecutive stages - the ex-ante, mid-term and ex-post evaluation. One important aspect of the methodological guides is to help ministries to engage citizen’s involvement at all phases.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The State Chancellery identified the key barriers that could prevent the successful implementation of the proposed solution. The first obstacle was the culture of central public administration. Most of the time, civil servants don’t want to alter their habits. Each change is considered to be an extra-thing that doesn’t deliver results. One way to mitigate this obstacle is to sustain a high level leadership and commitment on behalf of the implementing institution. This high level leadership was also encouraged by the Prime-minister which made the transparency and participation a priority for the entire Government. The State Chancellery organized training for all key public officials in order to maintain high visibility that would push for more openness and active involvement of citizens. The institution also assisted all civil servants from other public authorities with any question or confusion that was raised regarding the usage of the “participation module”. Permanent communication and dialogue was very effective in keeping central public authorities motivated to implement change.
The second obstacle was lack of knowledge on behalf of some public authorities and interested stakeholders. To overcome this, the civil servants from the Policies, Strategic Planning and Foreign Aid General Department (State Chancellery) organized trainings to make sure that everybody understands the purpose and the utility of the new “participation module”. During the training, the technical part was also explained in order to facilitate the insertion of the module to the specific websites of all public authorities.
A major challenge is the lack of interest from citizens regarding e-participation. This can be attributed to Government’s failure to market and publicize the “participation module”. In order to increase the visibility of, the State Chancellery took steps toward organizing an advertising campaign. The “participation module” banner was placed on the most popular Moldovan websites. Major news outlet started referring the website as the main source for all public policies and draft legislation.
The important lesson is that promotion of the site cannot solve entirely the issue of citizen engagement, but definitely it is a good starting point. Through the above mentioned trainings, we want to go beyond and consider public consultation more than just a checkmark that public authorities have to fulfill. The main idea of the “Participation module” is to create a culture of public participation for both, civil servants and citizens. But this culture, in order to be sustainable, needs to be nurtured. The State Chancellery assumed the leadership role in governing the transparency and always promoting citizen’s engagement.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The trainings organized by the civil servants from the State Chancellery haven’t required additional financial resources because one of their job responsibilities is to coach other civil servants in implementing new techniques and methods that would increase the efficiency end efficacy of public administration. The team from the Policies, Strategic Planning and Foreign Aid General Department consisted of 5 people which on a rotating base led the coaching/training sessions. The benefit of civil servants organizing the trainings, compared to someone outside the system, is that it increases the success rate of the initiative. People tend to trust more when someone of their kind promotes a specific change, in our case full transparency and civil participation. This once again, underlined the leadership role of the State Chancellery.
The ex-ante analysis and ex-post evaluation were developed by the State Chancellery with the help of 5 experts. The development of the guides took approximately 3 months. The pilot phase of implementing the guides by public authorities was 12 months. Each expert received a monthly salary of euro 3,500.
The technical solution of developing the “participation module” was done by an IT company contracted by the State Chancellery. The development of the platform took 2 months at a total cost of euro 10,000.
As mentioned before, transparency and citizens’ participation is considered a priority of our Government. This played an important role when mobilizing the necessary financial resources from the State Budget.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Yes, the State Chancellery believes that the initiative is sustainable and transferable because before creating the participation instruments, they made sure that all key decision factors and civil servants are ready to accept the new culture of participation and openness. If you can successfully change the mindset then there is no way back. The support of the Prime-minister was crucial for their initiative, because he constantly reminded all ministers to be open their institutions and asked them to promote active participation.
The organizational culture which used to be closed now is becoming more open. For example, over 85% of all public policies adopted by the Government in 2011 were consulted with the public and allowed citizens to participate. During the last year, over 2800 comments were received and 62% of all comments were accepted. For example in 2009 less than 38% of all public policies were consulted with interested stakeholders. The goal for 2012 is to have 90% of all public policies consulted and receive more than 3500 comments. These numbers prove that a change in mindset occurred and public authorities are very interested in engaging citizens’ participation. But in order to keep the numbers climbing and keep the steam on the initiative, the State Chancellery periodically organizes new trainings with public servants. As it was already mentioned in the previous answer, the financing of all trainings and coaching is done from the State budget.
In the first three months after launching the “participation module” only 12 authorities out of 24 implemented the initiative. But at the end of this year, there are 20 authorities out of 23 which already use this instrument to allow participation of interested stakeholders. After organizing a new round of trainings (February-March 2013) the State Chancellery believes that all central authorities will use the “participation module”.
The sustainability of citizens’ participation is strengthened by the National Council for Participation (NCP). This body constantly pressures public administration to engage not only in consultation but active participation of stakeholders. The National Council for Participation also reminds the civil society that they have a great instrument to get involved in the decision making process. As mentioned in one of the previous answers, the direct connection to the Prime-minister assured by NCP is a norm and an indispensable element of the decision making process in Moldova.
The State Chancellery, by developing the ex-ante analysis and ex-post evaluation made sure that these processes are institutionalized and even if those civil servants who attended the training leave the organization, the knowledge stays in the institution.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The first thing that made the initiative a success was that during the entire implementation period the State Chancellery maintained a strong leadership level. Thus, when obstacles emerged, the institution didn’t back down but looked for ways to overcome them in order to achieve the goal that was set. The civil servants from the State Chancellery provided clear direction and they inspired ministers and motivated other civil servants to get behind the initiative.
The civil servants from the State Chancellery didn’t want to create a participation platform that would not be used. The idea was to create a participation culture that would engage Government, businesses, civil society and citizens. A culture, in which Government would share information with its citizens and citizens, in their turn, would come up with solutions to solve all kinds of issues. This was the hardest part, because to create an interactive platform is easy, but to convince people to use it is very challenging. But the continuous training sessions organized for all interested stakeholders created the necessary support for the initiative.
Another very important element was the National Council for Participation (NCP). This body made sure that Government constantly increases its transparency, and civil society uses this “facilitator” to make sure that all voices are heard. Members of NCP always reminded civil servants about the commitment they made at the start of the initiative. The partnership that was built between the Government and National Council for Participation proved once again that a constructive dialogue can exist among politicians, civil servants and citizens.
After all the work that was done behind the stage, the biggest impact is the shift of Moldovan Government from public consultation to citizen engagement. The civil servants are now interested in receiving feedback and offering feedback to all commentaries and proposals offered by interested stakeholders.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   State Chancellery
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Ruslan Codreanu
Title:   Head of General Unit  
Telephone/ Fax:   37322250155
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Piata Marii Adunari Natioanale 1
Postal Code:   2033
City:   Chisinau
Country:   Moldova

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