| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The eTools Specification (strategy) was developed and implemented through the following steps:
4.1 Review of Terms of Reference
• Discussions with MINPO to determine needs, priorities and ICT requirements;
• Discussion with SME representatives (business associations) to determine needs and priorities;
• Discussions with Government Legislation Office, Ministry of Public Administration, Prime Minister’s Cabinet and Government NGO Office to determine legal requirements, scope for expansion to all ministries and ICT requirements for expansion;
• Discussions with ICT companies to determine likely timescale, cost etc.
4.2 Review of international good practice
• Review of international experience with eConsulation and good practice in creation of better regulations (Regulatory Impact Assessment);
• Recommendations for eTools specification.
4.3 Study tours to Ireland and Estonia
• Ireland: focus on RIA with emphasis on SMEs;
• Estonia: focus on electronic systems, eGovernment and eConsultation;
• Recommendations for eTools specification.
4.4 Specification of eTools (eConsultation, BTP and VCoE)
• Preparation of draft Specification;
• Commissioning ICT expert to check technical requirements;
• Circulation of draft specification to MINPO and business associations.
4.5 Co-ordination with MINPO, business associations and Government
• Presentation of draft Specification to MINPO and stakeholders for comment;
• Revision of Specification;
• Approval of Specification by MINPO to ensure ownership of tools and capacities required for implementation, including associated costs;
• Dissemination of Specification to Government NGO Office (responsible for consultation), GLO (better regulations) and Ministry of Public Administration (ICT infrastructure) to ensure eTools have potential for replication in all ministries.
4.6 Commissioning of eTools
• Invitation of 22 ICT companies with appropriate skills and experience to bid to programme eTools based on Specification;
• Evaluation panel, including MINPO and independent ICT expert, to assess 5 bids received;
• Interview of winner to i) ensure understanding of eTools ii) discuss gaps in bid and iii) determine capacity for project management;
• Negotiations to ensure suitable cost structure (programming and maintenance costs for two years), secure intellectual property rights (e.g. source code for eTools) and ensure what is done in one ministry can be replicated in all 20 without significant additional cost.
4.7 Monitoring and Supervision of eTools
• Over 30 meetings to specify eTools details with selected ICT company;
• Monthly reports to oversee progress;
• Use of independent ICT expert to assist with technical issues;
• Presentation of beta version to BIZimpact;
• Testing to remove any remaining bugs.
4.8 Presentation of eTools to MINPO, Government, RIA and Consultation Co-ordinators
• Presentation to MINPO senior management, policy and technical staff;
• Detailed follow-up to ensure eTools perform as required, including customisation and branding;
• Approval of eTools by MINPO, preparation of server and certification;
• Training of all relevant MINPO staff and SME stakeholders;
• Presentation of eTools to Government NGO Office, GLO, Ministry of Public Administration and Prime Minister’s Office to ensure buy-in for replication in all 20 ministries;
• Managerial and technical discussions to expand system to all ministries;
• Quotation from ICT company for expansion to all ministries at modest cost;
• Approval of quotation and signing contract for replicating eTools in all ministries (deadline 01 January 2015).
4.9 Awareness Raising
• Discussions with MINPO, business associations and strategic government bodies (GLO, Government NGO Office and Ministry of Public Administration);
• 6 regional events presenting eTools to i) SMEs ii) local authorities iii) business associations and iv) other SME stakeholders such as business centres, development agencies and NGOs;
• National launch of eTools on 06 October 2014: 115 participants, national TV, radio and newspaper coverage.
4.10 Further Steps Planned
• Full implementation capacity within MINPO;
• Replication of eTools in all 20 ministries (planned for January 2015);
• Training for all ministries on eTools;
• 12 awareness raising events, including Final eTools national event;
• Co-operation with media, business associations, etc. to promote eTools.
(eTools Implementation Plan uploaded – Specification and Project Plan)
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Numerous institutional stakeholders contributed to the design and implementation of the initiative:
• Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts (MINPO): the civil servants responsible for entrepreneurship at MINPO prepared the Terms of Reference for the eTools and thus were the catalyst for the eTools eventually created.
• Business Associations/private sector: the private sector played a key role, for example HGK, HOK, HUP, HCZP and Pohl Consulting and Associates Consortium, including Pinto Consulting GmbH. They strongly supported the development of the eTools, contributed to the creation of the eTools, which were programmed by the Croatian ICT firm IN2.
• Other public institutions: various other public institutions played a role in development and implementation, including the Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovation and Investments (HAMAG BICRO), the Ministry of Public Administration (responsible for governmental ICT infrastructure), the Government Legislation Office (responsible for better regulations) and the Prime Minister’s Cabinet.
• Citizens/NGOs: to a lesser extent, citizens/NGOs also played a role. The BIZimpact initiative involved the Government NGO Office in early discussions with a view to ensuring that the eConsultation tool could be expanded to the whole of the government system. The eTools were presented to the Government NGO Office when they became available and the NGO Office immediately recognised the potential for enhancing dialogue and transparency, as well as for replication across all ministries. It is now working towards this objective.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
There were various financial, technical and human resources costs for the eTools.
The BIZimpact initiative is a European Commission (EC) project involving two financing sources:
• European Commission: EUR 1,187,025 (85%);
• Government of Croatia: EUR 209,475 (15%);
• Total BIZimpact initiative costs over two years: EUR 1,396,500 (100%).
The above funding was for all four project components. Only a fraction of the budget was used for the technical and human resources connected with the eTools, namely:
• Programming: EUR 60,000 (all intellectual property rights owned by MINPO);
• Maintenance: EUR 14,000 for two years;
• ICT expert within IN2 assigned to programme the Business Test Panel: EUR 7,500;
• Independent ICT expert: 20 days (specification, monitoring and evaluation);
• Project Management: BIZimpact initiative resources to implement the overall project.
A further EUR 30,000 is being spent by the Government on the replication work connected with extending the eTools from MINPO to all 20 ministries in the country. This is expected to be operational in January 2015. It is also possible to expand the system to all 6 project partners.
It is anticipated that in the medium term, the eTools could be expanded to all 21 counties and eventually all 555 local authorities in Croatia.
The BIZimpact initiative involved an international tender procedure than was won by the Pohl Consulting Consortium, including Pinto Consulting GmbH, both from Germany.
The eTools were tendered locally. Over 20 ICT firms were invited to bid. Five bids were received and evaluated by an evaluation panel comprising MINGO and BIZimpact initiative staff, as well as an independent ICT expert. The winning bidder was interviewed. There followed discussions, prior to negotiations over the price connected with the work.
In terms of value for money, the eTools will cost EUR 82,000 (15% provided by MINPO). This represents good value for money.
However when extended to all 20 ministries, the total cost per ministry will be EUR 1,500. This represents sensational value for money, while also transforming the transparency and effectiveness of the process of creating evidence-based legislation across the whole of government.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Five concrete outputs contributed to the success of the initiative:
1. The development of the most sophisticated eConsultation tool available in the European Union and possibly the world. Even Estonia, the country widely regarded as the most advanced in this field, is interested in using some of the eTools developed under the BIZimpact initiative. The tools can be implemented in any country/RIA system with minor adjustments.
2. The development of the most sophisticated Business Test Panel tool to test likely costs and benefits of laws, regulations, strategies, programmes, etc. directly with target beneficiaries. The BTP has the potential to be adapted to any and all government policy fields. Information critical to effective policy development can be collected from the ultimate beneficiaries in real time and at zero cost to the government. Tool can be implemented in any country/any RIA system with minor adjustments.
3. The development of a simple but powerful method of assessing the likely costs and benefits of potential new laws and regulations, including the integration of public consultation (eConsultation) and the ability to ask the ultimate beneficiaries directly about the possible implications (positive or negative).
4. The eTools result in a significantly improved consultation process, dramatically increased transparency while at the same time delivering critical policy-relevant information which allows government to create laws and regulations (as well as programmes, policies, strategies, etc.) which are based on evidence, rather than purely on the basis of political motivation. Society and the economy will benefit greatly from the eTools and their impact.
5. The ability to replicate the eTools from one ministry (MINPO) to all 20 ministries (for an addition EUR 30,000), thus resulting in a significant value-adding impact. In the medium term, the eTools have the potential to be expanded to all 21 counties and eventually all 555 local authorities, delivering potentially a transformative effect throughout Croatia. Above that, with minor adjustments, tools can be implemented in any other country.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Various checks and balances were put in place to monitor implementation of the eTools strategy:
• Regular progress meetings between the BIZimpact initiative and IN2, the programmers;
• Monthly progress reports from IN2 to BIZimpact initiative;
• Use of independent ICT expert to advise the BIZimpact initiative on technical matters/issues;
• Use of independent ICT expert to review eTools and ensure conformity with Specification;
• Regular presentations of the eTools to assess progress.
Methods are also being put in place to evaluate implementation of the eTools strategy:
• Establishment of four eTools Administrators at MINPO;
• Training of eTools Administrators in other 19 ministries once the eTools are replicated;
• Annual report on better regulation by GLO (Regulatory Impact Assessment);
• Annual report on consultation by Government NGO Office (consultations);
• MINPO review of impact of eTools.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main problems encountered during implementation of eTools were:
• Lack of trust in government by SMEs and public;
• Scepticism about government’s willingness to consult and listen ;
• Scepticism about government’s willingness to become more transparent;
• Concerns about the inclusiveness of electronic initiatives such as eTools;
• Concerns over capacities at MINPO and other ministries to use eTools.
These problems were addressed and overcome as follows:
• Lack of trust: this requires procedures and practices demonstrating government’s commitment to follow legal requirements for consultation, proactively involve public and stakeholders, respond to comments and change laws in response to feedback. This is already happening: according to information available, 30% of feedback leads to changes in legislation and eTools will enhance this process further.
• Lack of willingness to listen: the eConsulation tool allows stakeholders to be informed of new consultations, there will be a central eConsultation site for all consultations, stakeholders will be reminded of deadlines and all comments will receive a reply about whether they have been accepted or not and why.
• Lack of transparency: the BTP will allow government to focus on specific target groups (e.g. SMEs, crafts and co-operatives), in particular economic sectors or regions.. It allows direct feedback on likely costs and benefits. Furthermore, comments made via the eConsultation tool and responses will be visible to all visitors.
• Lack of inclusiveness: eTools allow everyone in all parts of the country to participate in consultation connected to legislation. They provide complete inclusiveness, except for those without internet, who are covered by normal consultation arrangements, such as through business associations.
• Lack of capacities: the BIZimpact initiative requires the appointment of eTools administrators and moderators. Nine civil servants at MINPO were trained; the same will apply to all other ministries. All ministries must empower the individuals responsible to prioritise the eTools.