Eunpyeong-gu Residents Participatory Budgeting based on Mobile∙Internet Solutions
Eunpyeong-gu Office, Seoul Metropolitan city

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
- Monopoly of Budgeting Right by Local Government Heads Thus far, the budgeting right has been monopolized by local government heads. Programs implemented by budgets excluding residents' opinions have often failed, wasting the budget. A policy made dominantly by the local government without the participation of the residents has often failed to draw agreement or satisfaction among the residents, often failing to do anything useful during its implementation and often faces the residents' opposition. - Adoption of Nominal Participatory Budgeting Policies To help solve these issues, starting with Buk-gu in Gwangju Metropolitan City, many local governments in Korea began to adopt the residents’ participatory budgeting system in 2003. Note, most of such systems were nominally operated, faced with time and space limitations regarding the engagement of residents or worse, resisted by local councils or government employees. - Indifference to District Policies and Limitations in Residents’ Engagement In the past, to participate personally in the policymaking process, residents had to attend special meetings or visit specific sites. Therefore, the elderly citizens or disabled who are not able to move about freely, office workers, busy business owners, multi-cultural families with poor information (minorities), and mothers busy raising their children could not actually participate in the policymaking process, thereby alienating them further from district policies.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
- Proposals and Requests by Citizen Groups Regarding Residents’ Participatory Budgeting Policies The residents’ participatory budgeting system was first introduced in Porto Alegre City in Brazil in 1989. For Korea, it started to attract people's attention when a political party promised to legislate a "Residents’ Participatory Budgeting System" in the 2002 local election. In August 2005, with the “Local Finance Act” paving the way for laws on residents’ participatory budgeting systems, most local governments introduced pertinent ordinances. However, these were also found to be formal and imitative. This prompted some citizen campaign groups to insist on the adoption budgeting policies that were more practical in how citizens participate. - Strong Resolution and Positive Drive of the 5th Mayor of Eunpyeong-gu Elected by Popular Vote These citizens' demands were not reflected on related policies, and some local governments on the front line, in a struggle to adopt a residents’ participatory budgeting system, ended up introducing a formal and nominal service, especially after the government head position was filled by a new figure. Afterward, the local election in June 2010 served as a momentum to realize the citizens' desire for a practical residents’ participatory budgeting system (RPBS). Kim Woo Young, Mayor of Eunpyeong-gu, made a commitment to prioritize the RPBS issue as a core project to be implemented by the district. - Preparation of Diverse Systems to Help Expand Residents' Participation To implement his project, the Mayor of Eunpyeong-gu organized a "RPBS Council" consisting of a total of 17 members including ordinary citizens, citizen group activists, and panel of experts. The task force could build a consensus on the need for a policy to help sustain the system even with the change of the Mayor of Eunpyeong-gu. It conducted research on how to engage as many residents as possible, including a series of public hearings and private/public councils. Such efforts led to the institution of a policy requiring the participation of residents in not only budgeting, but district service planning, implementing, and the appraising process as well. The Eunpyeong-gu Office is the first in Korea to have adopted a mobile voting system in the general meetings of residents and on residents' proposed programs.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
- Requiring Residents' Participation in Every Administrative Process The Eunpyeong-gu Office has institutionalized a review and feedback by RPBS Council on planning, implementation, and assessment of major programs to minimize budget wastage and project implementation failures. The RPBS Council with 8 sub-divisions covering service for second-class citizens may adjust the budget or project scale. - Expansion of Participation Scope and Methods Previously, residents had to personally visit the administrative task-processing site to submit opinions; only few residents could do so. It was not easy for the elderly or disabled, office workers, and students to participate in such process. Thus, the Eunpyeong-gu Office decided to extend its administrative process to mobile and online networks. Mobile voting was held in community meetings on residents’ proposed projects (for the first time in Korea) to decide whether to launch a program proposed by some residents. This is the District's own intuitive system, accommodating those who cannot participate in the offline administrative process. This year, the district authority also held Internet voting and opened a website dedicated to the RPBS and the RPBS Council cafe on the portal website, Daum, allowing residents to forward opinions freely and have discussions without time and space barriers.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The following is a description of the strategic aspects of Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS from past to present, divided into Birth, Walk, Run, and Fly stages. [BIRTH] A. Foundation of RPBS     - Installation of Administration-dedicated Department In July 2010, the Eunpyeong-gu Office introduced the "District Policy Task Force" to bridge the citizens/citizen groups and government agencies an effort to institutionalize the residents’ participation system. Furthermore, the District Policy Task Force aids in directing the governance of Eunpyeong-gu and assumes responsibility for RPBS capacity education and Residents’ Participatory Budgeting Academy (RPBA). - Organizing and Running the RPBS Preparation Council In August 2010, Eunpyeong-gu launched the "RPBS Preparation Council" with 17 members including ordinary citizens, citizen group activists, and a panel of experts. In December 2010, it enacted the "RPBS Framework". [WALK] B. Operation of RPBS - Organizing and Running the RPBS Council In July, 2011, the Eunpyeong-gu Office organized the "RPBS Council" to lead residents' engagement efforts, with 8 sub-committees and 16 neighborhood councils. The RPBS Council is responsible for cutting or adjusting the main or supplementary district budget by reviewing the feasibility of each project and submitting proposals for each division's key plans. - RPBS Capacity Education and RPBA (Residents’ Participatory Budgeting Academy) The Eunpyeong-gu Office runs an education/training program for both residents and district employees. So far, it has provided the so-called "outreach residents’ capacity education" and 5 sessions of "RPBA" for a total of 716 residents in all 16 neighborhoods. It has also run a "leader training program" twice to produce 89 leaders of district councils. [RUN] C. Adoption and Running of New RPBS - Mobile & Internet Voting on Residents’ Proposed Projects Eunpyeong-gu introduced, for the first time in Korea, a system that allows residents who cannot afford to visit the polling station personally, e.g., elderly, disabled, commuters, or students, to vote via their mobile phone. In August 2012, the district built a mobile network after consultation with a specialized network service provider and held mobile voting on Sept. 24 ~ Oct. 5 through an ID authentication system. The district authority actively promoted the voting system using various channels. In 2013, the district expanded the voting system to the Internet. -Requiring Citizens' Participation in Major Projects: Planning and Government-level Construction Eunpyeong-gu has required its budgeting subcommittees to review the process from budgeting and planning to implementing and closing a major project (beginning March 2012). Thus far, this initiative has been applied to about 300 projects. In addition, by January 2013, the authority has made arrangements allowing its residents to have discussions on the entire process of a project planned by the district from design to progress and ultimately to completion; so far, about 400 residents have used this further service in 25 projects. These initiatives are unique to Eunpyeong-gu and are an elaborate and drastic attempt to ensure its residents’ practical engagement. [FLY] D. Dissemination among Other Local Governments Nationwide - President's Award for Good Examples of Efficient Budgeting and Best Practice of Citizens’ Engagement Eunpyeong-gu won the President's Award for its presentation "District Housekeeping by Residents' Own Hands" on an efficient budgeting case contest for all local governments in Korea. It also got to present its budgeting system -- selected as an exemplary case -- in a briefing session by the Ministry of Security and Public Administration (MOSPA) in March 2013. Eunpyeong-gu's case was introduced as best practice in an open local finance promotion research forum held in the parliamentary in April this year. - Making and Distributing the Residents’ Participatory Budgeting White Paper ("RPBS changing the Eunpyeong-gu") In 2013, the district published a white paper on its RPBS and distributed it to all local government authorities in Korea.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The success of Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS is attributable to the cooperation, support, and efforts of RPBS [Preparation] Council, citizens, and government employees concerned. - RPBS Preparation Council: Prepared RPBS Framework and Ordinance (draft) Eunpyeong-gu organized the RPBS Preparation Council consisting of citizens, citizens’ groups, and experts before launching the RPBS Council. The council drafted and reviewed the RPBS framework and ordinance through 23 meetings held between August 2010 and April 2011 and made all arrangements regarding how to launch the RPBS Council through discussions on related research and education to enhance residents' capacity for engagement. - RPBS Council: Laid the Foundation of RPBS Based on the RPBS Ordinance, the 120-member RPBS Council may forward their opinions on a major project’s budgeting and planning, serving as a medium for promulgating the Residents’ Participatory Budgeting System. - Citizens: Driving Force and Future of RPBS Previously indifferent to the district's administrative activities, district residents began to show interest in what was going on in their neighborhoods through the actions of the RPBS. The early settlement of the RPBS would not have been possible without the voluntary participation of residents including district meetings and voting on residents’ proposed programs; these actions contributed significantly to the development of Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS. - Government Employees: Responsible for Shaping and Implementing a Project Even with his firm resolve to pursue RPBS for Eunpyeong-gu, the Mayor of Eunpyeong-gu would never have succeeded without the support of 1,200 district office employees. Eunpyeong-gu's staff members have successfully shaped and embodied each program proposed by the residents in close cooperation with them. They have also paved the way for extending the RPBS process from offline to mobile and online and tried to foster a collaborative governance environment by sharing project plans with the residents.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
- Financial Resource Eunpyeong-gu tried to keep the cost of office work and the RPBS operations to a minimum, including the KRW 6 million for the building of a mobile voting website. Yet, most interestingly, a large portion of the budget was saved through donations and voluntary services by residents and civil groups. - Human Resources: Citizens who Voluntarily Participated in RPBS Service The human resources of Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS include 17 members of RPBS Preparation Council, 120 members from the RPBS Council, about 1,200 district office employees, 6,600 residents from 16 neighborhoods participating in community meetings. In the beginning they only had 700 participants in the 1st general meeting of residents, but this number sky rocked to 12,377 participants in the 2nd general meeting of residents. In particular, the 17 members of RPBS Council laid the foundation for the RPBS and written the ordinance until the launch of the RPBS Council through 23 official and 15 unofficial meetings. They voluntarily undertook the roles of not only topic researcher and debater in residents' hearings for the legislation of the RPBS ordinance, but also as instructors in the RPB capacity education. Moreover, the RPBS Council has never missed occasional meetings and subcommittee meetings despite their busy schedules. They have actively participated during the budgeting period, while also exchanging information on project plans via e-mail with government employees, served as event guides in general RPB meetings for Seoul citizens, and attend general Eunpyeong-gu residents' budget meetings. Thus far, thanks to the passion and devotion of these volunteer workers, Eunpyeong-gu was able to have numerous achievements. - Technological Resource: Mobile/Online/Offline System to Receive Citizens’ Feedback Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS enables mobile and online communication via the RPB website, a mobile web page for voting on residents’ proposed projects, "Daum cafe for RPBS Council," etc. The RPB website provides information on the activities of each council and district committees, the progress of residents’ proposed projects and the district's budget, and bulletin board wherein the residents can propose a district program or discuss a proposed project. It updates every piece of information, including the minutes and findings of a meeting, in real time. The "Daum cafe" as an online communication channel for RBPS Council lets members exchange opinions on any matter that cannot be dealt with in an offline meeting and allows them to discuss any urgent agenda. The mobile voting website allows any resident with a smart phone to vote on a resident-proposed project. Offline, the district holds a district meeting that can be participated in by anyone in the same district as well as 8 subcommittees to review and discuss important issues. The seventh floor of Eunpyeong-gu Office building has a 20 seat, 46.8㎡ meeting room where residents can hold discussions all year round; the meeting room is also used for the meetings of the RPBS Council.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
- General Residents' Meeting as a Reconciliation Arena Based on RPBS Eunpyeong-gu held a general residents' meeting for the first time in Korea in 2011. Each resident’s group promoted its proposed projects to residents visiting its booth and offered interesting events. Residents could also enjoy performances wherein applicants showed their talents. 23,536 people participated in the General Residents' Meeting 2013 held in the District Office Square. The general residents' meeting, driven by the RPBS, has been reborn as a festival of Eunpyeong-gu and an arena for communication and reconciliation. - Increase of Participants in District Policies and Improved Transparency and· Reliability of the District's Administration The core unit of the RPBS is the district-level meeting. The number of Eunpyeong-gu residents participating in district meetings is increasing from 640 in 2011, 2,500 in 2012, to 3,460 in 2013. In addition, since the first mobile vote held in a general residents' meeting, the number of people participating in the vote skyrocketed from 700 in 2011 to 12,377 in 2012 and 23,536 in 2013. Many of those who have attended a general or a district meeting at least once say they feel more attached to and concerned about their neighborhoods. Through discussing their community and its issues, they have developed a bond. Residents' engagement in projects coordinated by the district staff has also enhanced administrative transparency and reliability. - Saving KRW 25.0 Billion Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS Council may examine the district's entire budget including the main and supplementary budget. In 2011, 2012, and 2103, the 8 subcommittees helped save KRW 25.0 billion of project budget through budget screening. RPBS helped collect the ideas of Eunpyeong-gu residents, and the intellectual, collective power of each district contributed to saving the ward's budget, which would have been wasted otherwise. - Approx. KRW 3.0 Billion in 61 Resident-proposed Projects Reflected on the District Budget Eunpyeong-gu holds district-level (16 neighborhoods) local meetings that let residents propose a project or discuss possible solutions for a community issue. Projects proposed by the residents are downsized to 2 projects each time through 5~6 district meetings; the priority of both projects and budget is determined through spot or mobile/Internet voting. 20, 17, and 24 projects (total of 61) were selected and implemented in 2011, 2012, and 2013, respectively. Resident-proposed projects with higher priority were not only life-facilitating projects, but also made considerations for particular social classes, such as: twilight honeymoons for low-income elderly citizens, thematic trips with the disabled, and field trips to historic sites for elementary schools. - "Warm city" Brand Eunpyeong-gu used to be considered a backward area due to the poor urban infrastructure and low fiscal self-reliance ratio. However, currently it is dubbed a "warm city" as the district's RPBS became an exemplary case in Korea. The district is attracting more and more residents to its administrative tasks and inspiring local patriotism.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
- RPBS Appraisal Briefing Session Eunpyeong-gu holds an appraisal briefing session every January to share the achievements and issues with its RPBS and to draw possible solutions for improvement. This session helps the district correct any faults and aids in learning from good practices, reflecting on the findings for future plans. - Full-time Monitoring by the District Policy Screening Panel The District Policy Screening Panel has a meeting every other month. It monitors the operation of the ward's RPBS and reports and shares the findings in the evaluation session with other committees. For 2011, DPSP cited as areas for improvement the short-lived nature of district meetings and for 2012, problems resulting from the excessive competition between different districts regarding mobile voting. Eunpyeong-gu's DPSP's monitoring is the only residents’ participatory system in Korea, one that cannot be found in any other district. - Breakdown of Closed-off Administration through Workshops and Forums Eunpyeong-gu has held a wide range of workshops and forums to listen to the external viewpoints and opinions of experts regarding the operation of RPBS. In particular, in July 2013, the district held "Talk about Eunpyeong-gu RPBS" and it was attended by residents, civil groups, occupation associations, district Councils, and a panel of external. They exchanged opinions about their community pertaining to the benefits, problems, and areas for improvement, etc. The district took into account the events conclusions into the process of running the district's RPBS. - Collecting Residents' Opinions into an Online System One of the most outstanding characteristics of Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS is that it lets residents forward their opinions. The district provides bulletin boards on its RPBS website and portal site for its residents to post their feedback regarding any issue or resident-proposed program.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
- Lack of Awareness of RPBS among Residents In the initial stage of introducing the RPBS, residents lacked awareness of the RPBS and this added to the district's difficulties, which naturally resulted in the low participation of residents in district meetings or general residents' meetings. To promote the RPBS, Eunpyeong-gu aggressively made use of district-level meetings with the district chief who serves as an interface between the residents and the administration and the residents' capacity training program. It also utilized an online help desk that enables two-way communication, such as the RPBS website or Eunpyeong-gu SNS (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.). As a result, 23,536 residents participated by voting in the general residents' meeting in 2013. - Lack of Participation by People from Various Social Classes The district's administration had been led by occupation associations and few residents, including district chiefs. To overcome this limitation, Eunpyeong-gu established an ordinance allowing any district resident to participate in district meetings as an institutional strategy. It has also introduced mobile/Internet voting systems to collect more opinions from each community. - Negative Views from Government Officials and District Council In the initial stage of RPBS, many Eunpyeong-gu officials complained about the complicated administrative procedure, caused especially by the mandatory prior consultation with the RPBS Council. However, after some time these government employees found lots of the residents' ideas useful in providing service to the residents' satisfaction and finally recognized that the RPBS is a good system. There was some conflict between the district Council and RPBS Council because the former thought the latter infringed on their exclusive right to examine the budget. This was also resolved by an active campaign to persuade them that the RPBS is all about returning the budgeting right to the residents.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
- Conflict Resolution Cost Reduced by the Participation of Residents in the Administrative Process In the past, projects unilaterally led by government staff excluding the residents' opinions have often failed in the face of objection by the citizens. Eunpyeong-gu could minimize the opposition of residents and the cost of resolving conflicts by making residents' participation compulsory in the district's administrative procedure. The district also made its administrative process transparent to secure the residents' confidence in the district's service. - Cutting the Budget and Improving Residents' Satisfaction with Projects Meeting the Residents' Needs By letting the residents directly propose a project and choose one through voting, the district could allocate its budget to projects designed to meet the residents' needs. The residents' engagement also realizes budget savings that have been customarily allocated, which would have been wasted otherwise. This in turn has improved how residents perceive the administration of the district. - Residents Having Opportunities to Engage Anytime, Anywhere Today, with a smart phone, one can access the desired information in real time, anywhere. In keeping with this trend, Eunpyeong-gu has successfully promoted residents' engagement in the district's administration through online and mobile solutions. It provides a number of different online participation channels; in addition there are offline channels for IT-weak groups, so that everyone can post their opinions. - Lifestyle Improvements of Residents in Alienated Social Classes The socially alienated classes including the disabled, elderly, those from multi-cultural families (minorities), women, and juveniles can now become policy proponents anytime within the boundary of RPBS. In any district meeting, these people can present their opinions, and they have the right to review the budgeting for each project involving themselves through subcommittee meetings. Similarly, Eunpyeong-gu has in place a system for actively developing the views of the alienated social classes and improving their lifestyle.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
- Multilateral Efforts to Disseminate the Best Practices of Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS With the local major press and societies reporting the fresh and ingenious aspects of Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS and the district receiving the President's Award for best practice in efficient budgeting in 2012, the district was inundated with benchmarking requests from outside. Many are eager to learn how the district runs its RPBS and what is the secret of its success. To respond to this nationwide interest, Eunpyeong-gu decided to document what its RPBS was all about in the form of white papers and manuals, which have been distributed to all local governments in Korea. The case of Eunpyeong-gu was also introduced as an exemplary case of RPBS at forums in the MSPA and National Assembly, as well as on MBC Pohang, a public TV broadcaster that spotlighted the RPBS of Eunpyeong-gu. - Mobile Voting System that can be utilized in numerous ways In particular, the mobile voting system is the first attempt in Korea and consequently an example for other local governments. The mobile voting system costs almost nothing except the initial program building cost and requires only a minimal budget for its maintenance. Thus, the system is highly sustainable since it imposes a very minor budgetary burden, is consequently easy to benchmark, and finally, is adaptive to other decision-making processes. - Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS as a Precedent in which other Local Governments Show Greater Interest Eunpyeong-gu held a general residents' meeting for the first time in Korea in November 2011. At the meeting, Park Won Soon, the mayor of Seoul, announced that he would adopt and implement an RPBS just like Eunpyeong-gu's in his congratulatory speech. Afterward, in Sept. 2012, Seoul Metropolitan Government held a general residents' meeting that benchmarked Eunpyeong-gu. Seongbuk and Gangdong-gu in Seoul have also benchmarked the mobile/Internet voting of Eunpyeong-gu and used the same system when voting on residents’ proposed programs in 2013. Okcheon County in Chungbuk, Goyang, Suwon City in Gyeonggi, and Cheonan City in Chungnam have visited Eunpyeong-gu to receive materials for benchmarking the district's RPBS.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
- Dissemination of Recognition that Residents' Participation is a Prerequisite to the Policymaking Process In the beginning, Eunpyeong-gu tried to adopt an RPBS that meets the needs of its residents and to encourage more residents to participate in the district's administrative process through mobile and Internet voting and district meetings. These efforts led to the aggressive participation of residents, who were initially not interested in the district's RPBS, to engage in the district's administration to improve the effect and efficiency of the district's policy. From now on, any government agency might have to cooperate with the citizens not simply as the target of its service, but as a partner in the process of adopting a policy. - Real Success Means the Participation of Residents It can be easily seen that any project undertaken without taking into account the residents' opinions is very likely to fail or change in the face of residents’ complaints. On the other hand, any project involving the engagement of residents and their decisions can guarantee higher satisfaction, budget saving, and project sustainability. Besides, such projects are more likely to leave less room for criticism by the press or any external organization. To make a better world, Eunpyeong-gu has learned from its experience that it needs the opinions of its residents, not the brains of a great genius. The district will always communicate and go together with its residents in future projects. - The Dream of Eunpyeong-gu, Flying High! In the past, residents were satisfied with the right to select their representative through an election. However, currently such a passive right cannot fully satisfy the residents. Bruno S. Frey, a Swiss economist and a renowned happiness researcher, confirmed that how satisfied a person is as a citizen depends on whether he/she can directly participate in the administrative process. In other words, the more rights and opportunities the resident has for direct engagement, the more satisfied he/she would be. Therefore, the engagement of residents through RPBS is now a prerequisite. We hope the UN becomes a medium in spreading Eunpyeong-gu's RPBS and its benefits worldwide.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Eunpyeong-gu Office, Seoul Metropolitan city
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Yong Kyeong Eun
Title:   general manager of participative budget team  
Telephone/ Fax:   (phone)82-2-351-6475/(fax)82-2-351-5618
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   84, Nokbean-dong, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Postal Code:   122-702
City:   Seoul

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