| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
1. Formulating an “information-oriented strategic plan” to construct an automatic information release system.
To proactively release its administration information, the city of Seoulhas formulated a strategic plan for information disclosure consisting of the following three steps: preparing a strategy for administration information release service, constructing an automatic information release system, and executing citizens-oriented public information release service.
2. Constructing the world’s first automatic information release system.
The project of upgrading theSeoul Open Data Plazaweb serviceand constructing adocuments release system was completed through convening of advisory conferences five times during which commencement, mid-term, and completion reports were made. During the project duration, the information release service commenced in two different stages: On October 28, 2013, the service began, initially releasing approved documents signed by division heads and higher-ups, followed by a complete release on March 1, 2014, of documents approved by departmental managers and higher-ups. The main reasonbehind the incremental releases of documents was to minimize trials and errors anticipated in the implementation of Korea’s first system automatically releasing municipal documentsupon production.
3. Ensuring successful implementation of the system.
During the initial phase of the service, two hundred some documents signed by division heads and higher-ups were released, inadvertently including classified ones, which created quite a bit of confusion among City officials. To eliminate further misgivings and minimize system errors, the service was put on holdfor 10 days, during which City employees received training on identifying classified or personal information in the documents they handle.
4. Major steps taken towards proactive release of administration information.
Oct. ’11: Open Government 2.0 Policy promulgated
Nov. ’11 ~ May ’12: Advisory Conferences of Experts for Open Government 2.0 convened (11 times).
Feb. ~ May ’12: Innovating the organizational culture to promote proactive release of information .
May ’12: Ordinance on releaseof administration information revised in line with the open government policy.
Aug. ’12: General execution plan established titled “Release, Share, and Communicate through Open Government 2.0”.
Jan. ~ May ’13: Information-oriented strategic plan established.
Feb. ’14: Experts consulted and invited to conferences (130 some times) on matters related to information release and the information web service.
June ’13 ~ Feb. ’14: Construction of an automatic information release system (Seoul Open Data Plaza, documents release system) began.
Aug. 1, ’13: Ordinance on release of administration information completely revised.
Jan. 1~ 12,’14: the document release system and the Seoul Open Data Plaza web site vetted.
Jan. 1, ’14: Administration Information All-out Release Service launched.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
1. Conferring with citizen groups demanding transparent information release.
Demand for information release had been around for many years, mainly by groups of citizens on the fringe of main society. They had been active in Transparency International’s general assemblies, International Anti Corruption Conference, and other events demanding transparency in public information, strenuously striving to secure a citizen right to know that would conform to the international standard. The level of transparency they demanded from the City in its administrationand the extent they wanted it to go in combating corruption were higher and farther than those demanded of other local governments.
2. System managers each in charge of specific information category.
The city of Seoul’s administration information service is unique in that it makes contents of its internal information systems, including documents approved by its manager-level officials and higher-ups, accessible to the pubic through use of a regular Internet service. In order to make specific types of information in its internal systems readily available to the public, the City has constructed an information release governance in which the manager of each department in charge of its internal information system is identified as major stakeholder and all the departments share the same goal under the vision of Nude Project as the Nude Project charter.
3. Involvement of experts in the area of publicizing information .
The city of Seoul sought and paid a great deal of attention to experts’ advice in order to launch Korea’s first public information release service that is free of usual trials and errors and high in stability and utility; from the initial strategic planning to actual operation stages, the City held a total of 130 some conferences seeking opinions of experts in the area of making information public. All major decisions related to construction of adocument release system and launching of the information web service were made based on opinions of experts who discussed among themselves and shared their independent views on the direction to be pursued in terms of policy innovation, service planning, and system architecture.
4. Communicating with the central government, regional governments, and affiliated organizations.
For formulation of policy direction for releasing information and creation of aninformation release service, the city of Seoulconferred not only with the central government but also with 25 regional autonomous governmentsand 17 affiliated organizations. As a result, a common understanding on the need for information release was formed and the central government launched “Government 3.0”, an information release project, which led to a sweeping change in the attitude of government organization towards releasing public information.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
1. Using non-budgetary financial sources.
In developing the administration information release service, the city of Seoul sought to minimize costs by including short, mid, and long-term plans in the formulation of a strategic master plan for publicizing information and implementing them one by one. In developing the document release system, in particular, the City relied mostly on open source software, thereby being able to minimize the costs of purchasing or licensing commercial software. Moreover, by fully utilizing technical resources within itself and industry experts, the City was able to minimize trials and errors, and thereby, sunken costs.
2. Using global open source S/W and other technical resources.
In developing the system platform, the City used the world-renown Open-source software (OSS), the world-reliable CKAN and Drupal, and eGov Framework, developed by the central government. By using these software programs, the City was able to raise the economic feasibility and improve the reliabilityof the system, thus maximizing returns on investments made in the system.
3. Relying on industry experts for advice.
As the administration information release serviceinvolves not only information publication but also web architecture design and archive management among many other technical issues, human resources experienced in diverse IT sectors became crucial to success of the service. Accordingly, the City created a project unit, appointed a project manager, formed a task force, and invited as official task force adviser a number of professionals and experts in IT and other fields related to information release service, with the intention of minimizing trials and errors.
For smooth policy formation and work process, experts in the fields of information publication, records and archives, and administration, were actively involved from the beginning of the project; during the strategic planning stage, a Ph.D. in communication played the role of project manager; the task force, comprising experts in web planning, design, and development, and headed by an IT specialist. In addition, a certified privacy protection general (CPPG) was involved with the task of minimizing the number of inadvertent releases of personal information during initial launch of the service. In short, by involving experts of various fields in the project from the very beginning, the City was able to develop and successfully launch its information release service.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1. From passive and defensive minimal release to maximum transparent release of negative method.
The information release service reflects a sweeping policy change: within a couple years, the City has replaced the decades-old practice of withholding as much administration information as possible with a proactive and transparent system publicizing all information with exceptions specified by law, in an effort to honor the citizens’ right to know government business. As a result, Seoul citizens, fully informed of municipal undertakings, can now take an active part in formulation of policies of their interest. Moreover, the active participation of the citizens in the administration of the City has resulted in outcomes that are both economically viable and socially commendable. For example, a “Owl Bus” service serving less-commercialized routes was developed with citizen inputs and through an in-depth analysis of data from phone and taxi companies as well as the administration information of the City. By finding out where, when, and how many people called for or used taxi service in late hours, the City was able to identify routes that were not served by public bus companies yet of high foot traffic to justify their commercial viabilities. Another example is an app developed, based on popular citizen requests,to keeps track of the schedules and current locations of public buses in Seoul and its vicinity.
2. Comprehensive information publication through use of the latest in IT technology.
The City has constructed a process that automatically collects and publishes via the Internetnon-classified administration information in its internal systems, in an effort to transform its practice of releasing public information through use of manual uploads into a proactive and automatic process. All documents produced are linked with other related documents through use of keyword mapping tools, and the information web service is constructed to support the latest in IT technology as to accommodate all visitors regardless of their devise platforms, thereby further promoting the “consumption” of public information. With the introduction of a sweeping service that automatically publishes most of the administration information they generate, City officials strive harder to build a more transparent and upright municipal government through renewed commitment to accountability, while citizens, now better informed of their City’s undertakings than ever, gradually develop a more caring sense of civic duty.
3. Reaching out to more citizens through clicks of the “ask question” button.
The Seoul Open Data Plaza web service has the “Ask Question” button for visitors wanting to know more or to send ideas about published administration information. Once a question is submitted, the questioner is promptly informed by an employee from a relevant department of the questionsubmitted and steps to be taken. Because all communication, from acknowledgement of the question to notification of final results, is carried out in diverse formats, from SMS to email, the questioner is given feedback in a transparent and speedy manner. Moreover, a channel has been established through which citizen opinions on published information can be heard, a clear contrast to the old practice whereby City employees used to release public information as deemed fit.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
1. The city of Seoul uses diverse monitoring tools under the slogan, “What is not measured can’t be managed.”.
Using a QMS for successful management of the project.
For efficient management of its IT projects, the City has developed an internal project management method and operates a “Quality Management System (QMS)” to better manage the projects. The management method and the QMS have been employed in managing the information publishing service project, monitoring the progress of all stages, from the beginning of the project to ordering contracts, implementation and adjustment, to completion. In particular, the City was able to successfully complete the implementation and adjustment stage by breaking down the areas to be monitored and managed into schedule, boundary, reporting, conference, risk, personnel, quality, and change. Monitoring and managing the progress of the crucial stage in such a way has played a key role in the successful completion of the project.
2. Continued monitoring of the information publishing governance.
The most important aspect of the information release service has been information quality from the start. To better manage the quality of published information, the City has developed a monitoring tool of its own and through use of this tool, has been able to manage the whole process from the collection to publishing of information. In addition, through monitoring of information release by department, departments with an unusually low rate of release are identified and given a special guidance includinga proprietary analysis of “classified” information and employee training on types of information that can be released. As a result of this internal policy intended to realize the release of appropriate information through accurate weighing of the nature of information available, the ratio of information released to the total amount produced by the City’s internal systems has been steadily improving since the launch of the service.
3. Using web log analysis and web master tools.
Releasing administration information through a web service, the Cityuses various web log analysis tools to keep track of the number of citizens visiting the service and analyze their use patterns, in an effort to reflect resultant data in its system upgrades. The status of visitors is analyzed in terms of numbers of visitors, of the pages visited, and of average hours visitors stay logged in. By analyzing the flows of visitors and thus better understanding how citizens “consume” information, the City seeks to improve the quality of the information release service.
4. Operating citizen groups monitoring information release.
The City also analyzes the effect of its information release service on society in general on a regular basis through employment of monitoring groups comprising citizens and retired City employees; in addition the City conducts email, phone, and online community surveys to gaugeits citizens’ levels of satisfaction, all in efforts to identify areas to improve and to reflect more diverse opinions in its policy making. Specifically, the City focuses on collecting citizens’ opinions on all aspects of the information release policy, from requesting information release to theSeoul Open Data Plazaweb service, and publishing administration information including approved documents and meeting minutes. Moreover, by inviting all of its municipal organizationsand affiliated institutions as well as autonomous districts in the municipality to evaluation councils on a regular basis, the City rewards outstanding performers of public information release and explores together ways to improve the quality of the information release service.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
1. Overcoming the internal resistance to publishing information.
Building up a consensus within the municipal government in favor of linking the internal information systems to an automatic release service was the hardest part of the project. It has taken the City numerous internal discussions and consultations with industry experts to formulate a legal framework through which it can deal with, and thus win over the skeptics, such potential issues once the service is launched as privacy invasion, press embargo imposition, loss of public confidence due to discrepancies between policies adopted and projects completed. Of these, the biggest challenge was convincing City employees to release the types of administration information that had been traditionally withheld from the public. Asthe popular saying goes, old habits die hard, but with a series of across-the-board awareness sessions through which City employees each went more than a dozen times on average, the ratio of once classified information released through the web service steadily climbed, reaching a level in 2014 worthy of the vision of “Open Government 2.0”.
2. Fear of exposing personal information as a consequence of information release.
Another thorny issue that emerged with the talk of proactive information release was the danger of personal information exposure. As the planned document releasing system posed the risk of including documents containing personal information, a double layers of process that filter out personal information have been built into the system. Since no system is perfect, however, when it comes to such a delicate process as identifying what constitutes as personal information, the City sought to cover the gap by educating its employees on types and cases of personal information exposure, guidelines to follow in identifying personal information, and masking techniques.
3. Forming consensus with the central government and other related organizations.
Governing a bustling metropolis like Seoul entails the production of somany types of information that its citizens often feel bewildered about the terminology associated to the information and knowing where to find what they need. To address these and other related problems, the City has produced PR videos explaining how to use the Seoul Open Data Plazaweb service and exhibited the videos at 100 some locations including subway cars, public buses, public service centers, and outdoor electronic screens. Webtoons, or Internet comics, also were produced with similar contents and distributed. Moreover, the City sought to convince the central government, a bigger source of public information, about the weight of the project and has established a general consensus on the potential utility of such a project.